Delegates to the 111th annual Conference of the International Labour Organization, held from 5 to 16 June in Geneva, discussed a wide range of issues with a lasting impact on the world of work.

Around 5,000 representatives of governments, workers and employers from 187 ILO member States attended, including delegates from the Federation of Trade Unions of Kazakhstan, led by the President of the FTURK, Satybaldy Dauletalin.

The agenda of the forum included a second normative debate on quality vocational training; a periodic discussion on the strategic objective of social protection (labour protection); and a general discussion on a just transition to a sustainable economy and society for all, including consideration of industrial policy and technological development.

Participants considered draft conventions and recommendations for the partial revision of 15 international labour instruments to include safe and healthy working conditions among the fundamental principles and rights at work adopted by the ILO.

The overall review by the Committee on the Application of Standards focused on promoting equal treatment of women and men at work.

On the first day of the conference, Ali bin Samikh Al Marri, Minister of Labour of Qatar, was elected as chairperson. Corina Ajder, State Secretary of the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection of Moldova, Henrik Munthe of Norway and Zahoor Awan of Pakistan were elected as vice-chairpersons.

Speaking at the opening of the 111th session of the International Labour Conference (ILC), the Director-General of the International Labour Organization, Gilbert Ungbo, urged his colleagues to place social justice at the heart of global recovery and build a human-centred future.

“Any serious policy and action, be it at international, regional or national level, must be systematically built with a social perspective – this is necessary to confront growing economic inequalities. Let me make a simple point: when it comes to the problems shaking the world of work, no one should bury their head in the sand. The fourth industrial revolution leading to a radical rethinking of production technologies, demographic shifts, the urgent need to move to a low-carbon economy, all provide opportunities to build a better future for all. But at the same time, 4 billion of our fellow citizens are without social protection and 214 million workers have incomes below the subsistence level. Many of the small and micro-enterprises that used to create jobs ended up in bankruptcy. And how do you explain the fact that women on average earn 20 per cent less than their male counterparts? A global coalition involving a wide range of international organizations and stakeholders needs to be created. The Global Coalition for Social Justice will aim to balance environmental, economic and social concerns in discussions of global challenges, including the restructuring of the international financial system. It will also push for coherent policies and greater investments in social protection and decent work,” stressed the ILO head in launching his report: “Fighting for social justice”.

Gilbert Houngbo pointed out that diplomacy should be used to the maximum extent possible to bring the different groups closer together.

The ILO chief focused his second report on the situation of workers in the occupied Arab territories.

He expressed concern that poverty rates in Gaza had risen from 59 per cent to 65 per cent.

On the margins of the International Labour Conference, an FPLC delegation led by Satybaldy Dauletalin met with Maria Helena André, Director of the ACTRAV Workers’ Bureau, Sergejus Glovackas, Head of Central Asia and Eastern Europe Section, ILO Workers’ Bureau, Owen Tudor, ITUC Deputy General Secretary, and delegations from unions in Uzbekistan, Mongolia, Israel, Turkey and global unions.

Mr. Satybaldy Dauletalin, Chairman of the Federation of Trade Unions of the Republic of Kazakhstan, in his dialogue with colleagues, emphasised the implementation of international standards in national legislation, Kazakhstan’s implementation of ILO Convention 87, the work undertaken to ratify conventions, internal union work and ensuring the irreversibility of democratic reforms in the Federation of Trade Unions of Kazakhstan. Satybaldy Dauletalin emphasized that trade unions actively promote issues of social justice and decent work.

During the conference, the Kazakh delegation actively participated in the plenary sessions and committees of the ILC, and held meetings with representatives of international organisations and national trade union centres.

During negotiations between the Chairman of the Federation of Trade Unions of Kazakhstan, Satybaldy Dauletalin, and the Chairman of the Confederation of Trade Unions of Azerbaijan, Sattar Mehbaliyev, Vice President of the International Trade Union Confederation, the parties outlined further plans for cooperation in protecting the social and economic rights of workers, promoting international labour standards and enhancing multilateral trade union cooperation.

A delegation of the Federation of Kazakhstan Trade Unions also met with representatives of Australian trade unions and discussed the agenda for the ILO session, including the establishment of the Coalition for Social Justice, quality vocational training and a just transition to a sustainable economy.

It should be noted that during the 111th session of the ILC negotiations between the Council of Central Asian Trade Unions and the ACTRAV/ILO Workers’ Bureau took place for the first time. Secretary General of CCATU, Mr. Satybaldy Dauletalin, Chairman of the Federation of Trade Unions of Kazakhstan, Maria Helena Andre, Director of ACTR/ILO, Mr. Sergejus Glovackas, Head of Central Asia and Eastern Europe Section, and representatives of national trade union centres of Mongolia and Uzbekistan discussed issues of further development of the Trade Union Council of Central Asia. Specifically, the parties discussed priority plans for the Council’s interaction and cooperation with the International Labour Organisation.

The General Secretary of the Council of Trade Unions of Central Asia, Satybaldy Dauletalin, outlined the work carried out by the national trade union centres within the Council. Emphasis was placed on topical issues of trade union youth policy, communication strategy, tourism development in the Central Asian region, as well as plans for the joint recovery of workers in Central Asia.

As noted by Satybaldy Dauletalin, in the near future CCATU will identify further directions for national trade union centres on climate change, labour migration, occupational safety and health, and trade union education.

In turn, ACTRAV/ILO leadership supported activities of the Council of Trade Unions of Central Asia and assured the strengthening of ILO technical and expert assistance.

The Geneva meeting between the ILO and CCATU was hailed as historic.

Also on the margins of the conference, the Trade Union Federation delegation met with acting ITUC General Secretary Luc Traingl and ITUC President Irakli Petriashvili. They discussed strengthening cooperation with the International Trade Union Confederation, applying international labor standards, promoting the principles of social justice and decent work.

Aside from this, they also had meetings and negotiations with trade unions from Australia, Austria, and Zambia. An agreement was reached on cooperation and exchange of experience in trade union work.

The conference marked the World Day Against Child Labour on 12 June.  At a time when child labour is on the rise, ILO Director-General Gilbert F. Hungboe called on the international community to support the promotion of social justice and strengthen the fight against child labour.

On 14-15 June, the Conference hosted the “World of Work Summit” with the theme: “Social Justice for All”, which brought together 16 Heads of State and Government and representatives of other UN and multilateral bodies, as well as workers’ and employers’ organizations. Participants discussed a range of social justice issues, including the proposal to create a Global Coalition for Social Justice. High-level panels addressed inequality and informality, equal opportunities, lifelong learning and skills development, social protection and how to promote trade, sustainable development, human rights and labour rights.

Speaking at the closing ceremony of the ILC, ILO Director-General Gilbert Ungbo noted that delegates’ commitment to the ILO mandate, skilful negotiations and your diplomacy had resulted in several important documents being adopted at the conference.

“As we continue the ILO’s long journey towards fulfilling its mandate, we have heard loud and unequivocal support for the Global Coalition for Social Justice. Heads of State, labour ministers and leaders of employers’ and workers’ organizations have recognized the Global Coalition as a timely and important initiative. We must now build on this momentum,” he said.

The International Labour Conference concluded with the adoption of a new recommendation for quality apprenticeships. Delegates also adopted resolutions on just transition and occupational safety and health as well as a standards report, programme and budget.

The new labour standard aims to support “opportunities for people of all ages to continuously upgrade, retrain and improve their skills” in rapidly changing labour markets. It provides a clear definition of apprenticeships and sets out desirable standards for quality apprenticeships, including rights and protections for apprentices.

The conclusions of the General Debate Committee on Just Transition were adopted. They highlighted the urgent need to promote just transition to achieve social justice, eradicate poverty and support decent work.

Delegates to the ILC endorsed the ILO Guidelines for a Just Transition to a Sustainable Economy and Society as a framework for action and a key reference for policy making.

Delegates adopted the conclusions of the standing discussion committee on labour protection. The adopted resolution charts the way towards more inclusive, adequate and effective occupational safety and health for all workers and provides the basis for an action plan.

The Plenary endorsed the report of the Committee on the Application of Standards (CAS) which is the main supervisory body of the ILO standards system. CAS examined 24 individual country cases related to compliance with ILO Conventions.

Participants reviewed the General Study of the Committee of Experts on the Achievement of Gender Equality at Work.

In their Outcome of the debate, members stressed the urgent need to eliminate all forms of discrimination at work, to ensure full and effective maternity protection and to ensure the right of workers with family responsibilities to take up employment.

Thirteen ratifications of international labour conventions were registered during the conference, the majority of which are the recently adopted Convention Against Violence and Harassment at Work (C190) and Conventions related to occupational safety and health.

The ILO Programme and Budget 2024-2025 was adopted during the ILC. The document reaffirms the commitment expressed by all ILO tripartite constituents to combat all forms of discrimination on any ground for the benefit of all, while recognizing the different positions expressed on some issues.