From the TUC

Guy Ryder puts green economy at heart of ILO agenda

06 Jun 2013, by Guest in Environment

Blog from the ILO International Labour Conference in GenevaYesterday the International Labour Conference started in Geneva. This report from Belgian delegate Bert De Wel is one of several we’ll feature as debate unfolds.

Everybody was looking forward to the first speech of the ILO’s new Director-General, Guy Ryder, and he chose to focus on the huge challenges faced by the world of work. He talked about the global commitment to put an end to extreme poverty by 2030, which has to be translated in the post-2015 development agenda, and how a sharp focus on the rights and conditions of women in the world of work is necessary, along with genuinely effective policies to correct persisting and profound disadvantage.

And then there is the green agenda, which today moved on to centre stage.

Ryder stated it very clearly:

“Transiting to a low carbon economy as the motor of a sustainable development path is, and will remain, a central challenge for the world of work and the ILO. It must find its place as an integral part of a decent jobs objective in the post-2015 agenda.”

This linking of our traditional demands for decent jobs with the environmental challenges is a key step forward for the world of work.

During the International Labour Conference the ILO’s Committee on Sustainable Development, Decent Work and Green Jobs will tackle the issue of how we can ensure environmental sustainability, whilst at the same time realising decent work for all.

Spokesperson for the workers in this committee is Gerardo Martinez from the Construction Workers Union (UOCRA) of Argentina. He stressed that our demands for a Just Transition to sustainable development are “un combo de medidas” (a set of measures) integrating its different pillars:

  1. The need to create new, green and decent jobs.
  2. Respect for workers rights.
  3. Social protection: to be extended to the majority of the population
  4. Social dialogue: consultation, participation and negotiation with workers is key to the process of building a Just Transition.

All aspects of our Just Transition have to be taken into account, Gerardo insisted. Workers will never accept that employment conditions are “the variable that has to make the adjustments.”

After the first tripartite discussions with governments and employers, we saw broad support from many government representatives. Not surprisingly, employers were much more reserved with their support for decent work and green jobs. The concept of ‘green jobs’ especially is posing a major problem for them. For the moment, most worker representatives are still optimistic and hope that we can come up with a concrete result that will put the ILO further to work on the issue of green and decent jobs.

GUEST POST: Bert De Wel is advisor on enviroment and energy policies at the research department of the Belgian Confederation of Christian Trade Unions (ACV-CSC).