G20 Labour and Employment Ministerial Meeting

ILO Director-General’s Speech at Session on Dialogue with Social Partners and Engagement Groups

Statement | Beijing, China | 12 July 2016
Thank you Minister Yin,
I very much appreciate the decision of the Chinese Presidency to organize this session with the L20 and B20, as well as the other outreach groups.

Tripartite consultation and social dialogue have played a major role throughout the world in periods of economic crisis and post-crisis.

This is of course very natural. Workplaces everywhere are governed not just by the laws, regulations and policies governments adopt but also by the rules and processes established by employers and workers themselves, as they endeavour to make sure that work is performed productively, safely and fairly. Employers and workers can together maximize the benefits of innovation and make sure its fruits are shared justly.

So good employer-worker relations are essential to the workplace and therefore to the broader economy as well.

But that does not happen automatically.

As has been reaffirmed on many occasions, including last month at the International Labour Conference, sound employment relations are founded necessarily on respect for fundamental principles and rights at work and the pursuit of social justice.

And living in yet another post-crisis world right now, in which we face formidable economic and labour market challenges including widening inequality, social dialogue needs to play a role in the solutions that we implement.

So it is most welcome that G20 Ministers, with the leadership of China, have this year decided to stress the significance of social dialogue in the formation and implementation of good policies.

The joint IOE/BIAC – ITUC/TUAC Statement is impressive, both in the quality of its recommendations to Ministers but also in the commitment it makes regarding action by business and labour. It shows the power and creativity of social dialogue and the potential of social partner agreements for steering a way forward in difficult times.

I find particularly significant their affirmation that freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining are key to promoting and supporting social dialogue, especially for the efficient structuring of labour markets and working conditions. Indeed the very same determined affirmation has been expressed every time the International Labour Organization has addressed a watershed moment in history.

Governments and the social partners today face daunting challenges. To name but a few:
  • eradicating extreme and working poverty and reducing inequality;
  • stopping the degradation of the planet;
  • maintaining open economies and societies that respect and value diversity; and
  • shaping the future of work during a period of rapid technological change.
Against this backdrop, the importance of social dialogue in all of its dimensions - be it tripartite consultations, collective negotiations or workplace cooperation - cannot be overemphasized as a way to diffuse political and social tensions and to create sustainable solutions to them.

And I think it would be appropriate if this exchange today were echoed nationally so that country-level social dialogue can support follow-up to the Ministerial Declaration that will be adopted.

The ILO is similarly encouraging governments and the social partners to make full use of social dialogue arrangements for discussions around the implementation of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Inclusive and decent work are important drivers of sustainable development and will need to feature prominently in the national sustainable development strategies that member States are called upon to fashion.

dialogue is essential both to resolve conflicts and also build consensus on the way forward. The leadership of the G20 Ministers, and the support of the L20 and B20, in promoting social dialogue will no doubt be extremely useful for Leaders themselves at the Hangzhou Summit in September.