ILO Prepares New Standards on Employment, Social Security, Construction Safety

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ILO prepares new standards on employment, social security, construction safety

NEW international standards designed to strengthen the link between national employment policy and social security and to improve occupational safety and health in the construction industry were prepared by the seventy-third session of the International Labour Conference (Geneva, 3-24 June). Texts of proposed conventions and recommendations in these fields were approved, paving the way for the adoption of new instruments at next year's session.

Some 1,800 government, employer and worker delegates and advisers from 138 member States of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) took part in the three-week annual congress of the ILO, which also discussed ILO's technical co-operation programme, called for a strengthening of international action in the fight against apartheid and monitored the application of ILO standards around the world.

Conference debate focused on the role of international co-operation in world development. ILO Director-General Francis Blanchard said it was legitimate to link the application of labour standards in developing countries with a greater disposition on the part of industrialized countries to respond favourably to the third world's social and economic development needs. Stressing that international co-operation was vital for long-term world-wide growth, he called for accelerated efforts of adaptation and adjustment and for trade liberalization. Far more jobs would be created than lost if protectionist barriers were lowered and markets were opened up, he said.

The Conference adopted a $324.86 million budget for 1988-1989 and elected members to the ILO Governing Body for three-year terms. The 56-member Governing Body comprises 28 government members, of which 10 hold non-elective seats as States of chief industrial importance, 14 employer members and 14 worker members.

Jordan's Minister of Labour and Social Development, Khaled Haj-Hassan, presided over the session. Vice-Presidents were Valentin N. Lipatov (Ukrainian SSR, Government), Wolf-Dieter Lindner (Federal Republic of Germany, employer) and Heribert Majer (Austria, worker).

Special sittings of the Conference were addressed by President Raul Alfonsin of Argentina and President Mario Soares of Portugal.

Social security: The co-ordination of employment policy with national social security systems, in particular with measures for unemployment benefits, and the guarantee of essential elements of benefit to the unemployed were the main objectives of conclusions approved by the Conference with a view to the adoption next year of new standards on this theme. The proposed instruments, which will be examined in detail over the coming year, took the form of a convention supplemented by a recommendation.

States ratifying the convention would undertake to ensure that measures for the provision of unemployment benefits contribute to the promotion of full, productive and freely chosen employment and are not such as to discourage employers from offering, and workers from seeking, productive employment.

Persons protected, for whom equality of treatment would be guaranteed, should comprise 85 per cent of the labour force; public employees benefiting from security of employment may be excluded from protection. The contingencies covered should include full unemployment--defined as the loss of earnings due to inability to obtain suitable employment in the case of a person capable of working, available for work and actually seeking work-- and also, as far as possible, partial unemployment (temporary reduction in hours of work or temporary suspension of work without any break in the employment relationship).

A special section focusing on the promotion of productive employment sets out steps to be taken to provide additional job opportunities to identified categories of disadvantaged persons, among them workers affected by structural change. …