The 111th International Labor Conference commenced in Geneva on Monday. The conference, which will continue until June 16, brings together representatives from worker, employer, and government sectors from the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) 187 member states.
It will tackle issues, including a just transition towards sustainable and inclusive economies, quality apprenticeships, and labor protection.
ILO Director-General Gilbert Houngbo said in his opening remarks that technological and scientific progress continues to shape new forms of work and are generating thousands of jobs today while providing gains in productivity.
At the same time, all countries, without exception, are working to recover the economic and social gains lost as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Houngbo said.
“It is clear that those efforts are being undermined by the many crises which are leaving the world in the state of upheaval at the moment,” he said. “These structural changes on the labor market will, however, no doubt continue.”
Assuring that the progress in the labor market will continue, the ILO chief drew attention to some “deep-rooted” inequalities.
“Even now, four billion of our fellow citizens have absolutely no access to social protection and the 214 million workers and some which put them below the poverty line,” he said.
“How do we justify women earning on average even today?” he asked, saying women still earn 20% less per hour for equal work than their male counterparts do.
“I strongly feel that we cannot simply stand by and watch as child labor re-emerges and forced labor increases,” he said. “We can’t just watch the increasing risk of discrimination whatever type of discrimination it is that comes with these things and the exclusion, violence and harassment that they bring with them.”