Crucial test for the ILO this week
The first week of the International Labour Conference has concluded with all sides – government, employers and workers – stressing the importance of sustainable development. The executive summary of the report ‘Sustainable development, decent work and green jobs’ makes it clear that:
“The environment and social development must no longer be treated as separate pillars of sustainable development, but rather as closely interrelated dimensions. Such an integrated approach turns the drive towards environmental sustainability into a significant avenue for development, with more and better jobs, social inclusion and poverty reduction.”
This approach is one that the UCU and TUC have been advocating for a considerable time. The marginalisation of sustainability into a separate ‘green box’ has hampered efforts to drive it into the heart of economic activity. The hope is that the ILO will come up with an instrument that will give trades unions a key role in this transition.
Unfortunately these discussions have taken place without the UK government and UK employers.
The only UK representative has been from the trade union side. When references are made to the ‘greenest government ever’ or the need for an ‘employer led approach’ we are entitled to be cynical. An opportunity has been missed to show the rest of the world that the UK wants to be at the forefront of sustainable development
UCU has been encouraged by the prominence being given by all sides to the importance of the education sector. The US Government representative commented that some of the best training programmes are delivered by the trades unions and that employee involvement should be explored. The Employers spokesperson concluded her submission by stating that “there must be a stronger interaction between the world of work and the world of education”.
The TUC and the UCU’s global federation – Education International – will now attempt to use the drafting stage to ensure that skills development and re-skilling are prioritised.
GUEST POST: Graham Petersen is UCU Environment Co-ordinator and ILO Workers Delegate.