STATEMENT DURING THE PLENARY DISCUSSION OF DIRECTOR GENERAL REPORT AT THE 104TH SESSION OF THE INTERNATIONAL LABOUR CONFERENCE GENEVA, SWITZERLAND
” The President of 104th session of the ILO
The Vice Presidents
The Director General of the ILO
Heads of Delegations
Ladies & Gentlemen
- I am pleased to take this opportunity on my own behalf and that of COTU (K) to congratulate you Mr. President and your two Vice presidents on well-deserved election to steer the affairs of this conference. We are confident that you will steer the affairs of conference with great success and to the satisfaction of all constituents.
- COTU (K) also takes this opportunity to thank the Director-General for preparing a very concise, focused and yet comprehensive report on the Future of Work initiative. The timing of the report is very welcome indeed, coming two years after the first report which set out the long term challenges that the ILO faces as it approaches its centenary birthday.
- The size and the length of the report is true testimony of the ILO reforms in practice in the sense that it is long enough to contain all the essential details yet short enough to allow for quick interrogation and reflection by constituents thus saving on conference’s valuable time.
Brothers and Sisters,
- COTU (K) supports the roadmap outlined with regard to the future of work centenary initiative involving the three stages namely; the collation and collection of ideas, compilation and production of the report by the commission and, finally discussion of the reports by the 108th session of the conference including the commemorative events both at the national level and at the conference which if agreeable may culminate in the adoption of a declaration.
- In our considered view, the process itself is indeed an evaluation of the extent to which the organization has performed in the pursuit of Social Justice which informed the founding of the organization in 1919 and was further echoed in the 1944 Philadelphia declaration.
- The full engagement with the process by constituents at each stage is therefore not an option but a duty as failure to do so deny the organization the fresh ideas and tools necessary for helping to shape the cause of social justice at the final years leading to the 2nd century.
- COTU (K) supports the report identification of the four key issues that should inform our conversation on the future of work namely; Work and society, Decent jobs for all, organization of work and production, and Governance of work. We identify with the concerns raised under each of the themes and have plenty of experience to share and proposals to make if time and space were to allow.
- The significance of work and the special place it occupies in the lives of people remains a central goal today as it was at the founding of the organization in 1919. Admittedly, significant transformations have since taken place in the world of work fuelled by technological advances and brought about increased productivity and prosperity across countries and regions. But they have also led to disruptions in the work place manifested by employment and income insecurities as result of the prevalence of non-standard employment arrangements and severance of social relations and networks. We therefore support the proposal for a recasting of the concept of the place and purpose of work in society to restore its meaning and purpose going forward to the 2nd century.
Brothers and Sisters,
- We agree with the proposed theme on decent jobs for all and note that it has been one of the normative goals of the organization for a number of years now. However decent and productive jobs in sufficient quality and quantity have remained largely a mirage for many countries and regions in spite of the efforts directed towards creation of the jobs. This state of affairs coupled with slow recovery from the post 2008 financial crisis has called into question the efficacy of policy tools employed to address the issue of jobs.
- Looking at the Kenyan case, unemployment and underemployment remain at an all-time high of over 30 percent despite spirited attempts to address the problem. COTU (K) therefore calls for a policy adjustment oriented towards job centered macro-economic frameworks rather than a focus on mere economic growth which has not produced any jobs. Critical components of such a policy shift would include active labour market policies like, investment in skills and training, addressing of the skills mismatch, linkage of training curricula with business needs among others.
- The organization of work and production in many economies and sectors today have been subject of globalization pressures and increased competitiveness of enterprises, technological advances and innovations. The scale and pace of these dynamics on the workplace and its effects on the stability of jobs, employment relations have been profound and require deep and critical reflection going forward into the centenary celebrations. If left unattended they may imperil peace and therefore, the cause of social justice which is the raison d’être and unending objective of the ILO.
- In Kenya, the effects of work re organization as a result of rapid changes in the world of work have been manifested in emergence and increase of non-standard employment relationships, sub-contracting, outsourcing, casualization and odd jobs including 3rd party agencies.
- However, just as noted in the DGs report the challenge lies in the lack of effective policy and regulatory response to address these dynamic work arrangements. COTU (K) therefore calls for introduction of appropriate standards beginning at the international level downwards to the national level.
Brothers and Sisters
- COTU (K) notes that of late some government of Kenya appointed officers have never taken time to comprehend and understand the Industrial Relations dynamics. We call upon all Industrial Relations Practitioners to respect the pillars of the ILO which are founded on tripartite arrangements.
- Kenya for the last two years suffered immensely as there was a big disconnect between employers and workers on one side and government on the other side.
- I take this opportunity to thank His Excellency President Uhuru Kenyatta’s personal intervention which has restored working relations amongst the social partners in Kenya. We also thank the President who led his government and presided over the recent concluded 50th COTU (K) anniversary and Labour Day Celebrations.
- We have noted that the two weeks slotted for the ILO Conference hosting thousands of Labour Relations Representatives from all over the world is inadequate if we are to meaningfully and seriously deliberate on issues facing mankind in the world of work.
I thank you.”