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International Labour Organization's XIV th American Regional Meeting concludes its work

LIMA (ILO News) - After expressing their conviction "that economic policies must be harmonized with social justice policies," the representatives of governments, employers, and labour organizations from 35 American countries have reaffirmed their decision to promote concrete actions for the creation of decent work and the immediate elimination of the worst forms of child labour.

Press release | 27 August 1999

LIMA (ILO News) - After expressing their conviction "that economic policies must be harmonized with social justice policies," the representatives of governments, employers, and labour organizations from 35 American countries have reaffirmed their decision to promote concrete actions for the creation of decent work and the immediate elimination of the worst forms of child labour.

The delegates at the International Labour Organization (ILO) meeting agreed that "finding decent work constitutes one of the most immediate priorities for the people in the Americas". They recognize that economic growth is a necessary but insufficient condition to generate decent work and point out that, in addition, it requires "the application of economic policies that will promote an increase of productivity and guarantee the macroeconomical stability needed to stimulate savings and investments".

With the presentation and adoption of their findings, aimed at encouraging policies that will contribute to promote social progress in the region, the ILO ended its XIV th Regional Meeting this afternoon here in Lima. Its participants, including several Ministers of social and labour affairs, as well as senior representatives of employers' and workers' organizations, declared their solid support for the ILO's strategic objectives, such as the "promotion and application of fundamental principles and rights at work, the promotion of policies and programmes designed to generate more and better jobs for women and men, the widening of the coverage and effectiveness of social security for all, and the strengthening of tripartism and social dialogue".

While reaffirming their conviction that "developing enterprises, with due respect for social and labour rights, is important for the creation of jobs," the delegates warned that "it will be necessary that governments create a sound environment for investment, for the creation of new enterprises, particularly medium and small ones, facilitate access to credit, and promote growth in productivity".

The delegates emphasized in the Meeting's conclusions their commitment to the elimination of child labour. To this effect, the delegates affirmed, "we are committed to promoting the earliest possible ratification - preferably prior to the first meeting of the International Labour Conference to be held in the coming millennium (June 2000) - of ILO's Convention No.182, and, with the assistance of the International Labour Office, to implement programmes aimed at fulfilling the objectives of that Convention". ILO's Convention No.182, approved during ILO's last International Conference in June 1999, aims at the immediate elimination of the worst forms of child labour.

The Meeting emphasized the importance of an authentic social dialogue. "It's stated in the conclusions, it is necessary to strengthen the social partners in order to reach mutually agreed solutions that legitimize the policies and promote a fair distribution of the benefits of growth."

Expressing their conviction that the promotion of decent work results from a broad tripartite social dialogue, the delegates to the Meeting asked the ILO "to facilitate the realization of national and regional initiatives to that effect". The participants also emphasized the importance of linking economic programmes and social policies in order simultaneously to promote economic and social objectives. They accordingly requested the ILO to establish "constructive relations with international finance institutions and economic agencies such as the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank," and requested the Director-General to "identify, together with those institutions, concrete initiatives leading to an integral approach to the monetary, financial, social and labour dimensions of the global economy".

Defining decent work as one of the core objectives of the regional integration processes, the delegates to the Meeting requested that the ILO join in the work of the Inter-American Conference of Labour Ministers, and participate with the OAS and the IADB in developing and applying mechanisms that allow the incorporation of the social and labour dimension in the integration processes.

The Meeting also identified several areas of priority action:

  • Creating and strengthening suitable educational and training systems so as to enable workers to be integrated into the labour market and to meet the new challenges posed by a globalized economy;
  • Promoting a climate of harmonious labour relations through collective bargaining;
  • Developing job-related policies and programmes focusing on the most vulnerable social groups, particularly the young, women, and the unemployed;
  • Encouraging the absorption of informal activities into the formal sector;
  • Protecting workers against occupational accidents risks "Decent work", stressed the delegates, "does not just mean jobs with adequate productivity and salary levels";
  • Increasing the efficiency and expanding the coverage of social security systems, including the design of new security mechanisms for the unemployed.

Finally, the delegates stress in their conclusions the need to improve the capacity of the ILO member countries to respond quickly to crisis and emergency situations in the region. The delegates at the Meeting requested the ILO to provide timely assistance to the countries "in designing and carrying out a package of measures and programmes aimed at lessening the social repercussions of crises and emergencies".

In his closing speech to the Meeting, Mr Juan Somavia, Director-General of the ILO, congratulated the delegates on the quality of their debates, and urged them to promote in their countries the agreements reached in the conclusions of the Meeting. "The need to increase the opportunities for decent work for men and women, and to assure the protection of all," he said, "is the region's great unfulfilled demand. This is what the people are asking for and what they want. Furthermore, this is what our countries need if we are to build stable societies for the future".

The tripartite delegates stressed the importance of the Meeting for promoting the region's social and labour agendas.

José Alberto Andrés Uriburu, Minister of labour and social security of Argentina: "We have reached agreement on the problems that exist in the region and on the causes that produce them, since they are common to all the countries in the region. We have seen that there is a great lack of social protection in the Americas, and the conclusions of the Meeting aim at solving this problem. The participants have unanimously requested the ILO to play a more leading role vis-a-vis the international organizations and vis-a-vis the domestic situation of each country."

Rafael Alburquerque, Secretary of State for Labour of the Dominican Republic: "The most important accomplishment of this Meeting is to have created an awareness among employers, workers and governments that the fundamental task is to create jobs. This is part of the dynamic new thrust that Mr. Juan Somavia is giving the ILO: top priority for the creation of decent work. We also agree with the need to promote social dialogue, as well as to strengthening employers' and workers' organizations, since labour policies can succeed only if we have an economic growth policy."

Daniel Funes de Rioja, Employers' delegate from Argentina: "This Meeting has given us a clear picture of the profound interrelationship between economy and work. Secondly, it has stressed the enormous value of social dialogue at a time when a large part of the region is reviving its political activities. This discussion about social dialogue will ensure that our countries practice social dialogue not only as a necessity, but also as a habit."

Federico Ramírez León, Workers' delegate from Venezuela: "The outcome of this Meeting was extraordinarily positive for the institutional strengthening of the ILO, reflecting as it does a more realistic approach to the situation facing the countries of the region. It has reaffirmed the will of the governments to implement the ratification of Convention 182, aimed to eradicate the worst forms of child labour."

Luis Anderson, Secretary, International Confederation of Free Trade Unions - Inter-American Regional Organization of Workers: "We were able to reach consensual on the crucial labour issues of social protection and workers' rights. Employment continues to be the most important issue - not just any job, but a dignified and decent job, according to the needs of both the employer and the employee."