Documents menu

Date: Tue, 10 Dec 96 17:48:34 CST
From: rich%pencil@UICVM.UIC.EDU (Rich Winkel)
Subject: WTO Snubs The ILO

/** 254.0 **/
** Topic: WTO Snubs The ILO **
** Written 10:09 PM Dec 9, 1996 by labornews in **
From: Institute for Global Communications <>

World trade organisation snubs the ILO

ICFTU OnLine..., 4 December 1996

Brussels, December 4 1996 (ICFTU OnLine): According to information obtained by the ICFTU the World Trade Organisation has withdrawn an invitation for Michel Hansenne, Director General of the UN's International Labour Office (ILO) who was expected to participate in the WTO first-ever Ministerial Conference to take place in Singapore on December 9-13. "The WTO refusal to allow the ILO to contribute to its debates, bodes ill for the hopes expressed by those who expect the Singapore meeting to voice a minimum of concern and respect for basic workers' rights and living conditions as one of the main objectives behind the international trade agenda." says the ICFTU.

The question of linking trade and respect for basic labour standards is expected to be a major controversy at the WTO conference as governments from Europe, Africa, Latin America and the United States will table a proposal to establish a WTO working group on the issue and to have the question anchored in the WTO future work programme.

According to the ICFTU the withdrawal of an invitation to ILO's Michel Hansenne, who had originally received one is part of an offensive launched by a number of governments in the Asia and Pacific region to kill any attempts to discussing workers' rights in the WTO forum.

Asian and Pacific governments have argued that discussions on workers' rights belong to the ILO only and not the WTO and are fiercely opposed to any linkage between trade and labour standards. Yet, notes the ICFTU, the same governments have blocked any progress aimed at strengthening the ILO's capacity to promote these rights. At the ILO Governing Body meeting this November, with the support of the employers' group, they managed to block any progress on the question of strenghtening the ILO's means of action for a more effective enforcement of international labour standards and proposed steps which would result in the undermining of the ILO's existing procedures and supervisory mechanisms.

"A number of these governments pay scant regard to their workers' rights and conditions and while manoeuvring to avoid discussion in Singapore in the name of ostensibly strengthening the ILO, they spare no efforts to weaken the UN's only tripartite agency",the ICFTU stressed.

The ICFTU which groups trade union centres from both developing and industrialised countries has been campaigning for the opening of markets through liberalisation of tariffs to be linked to respect of 7 basic ILO Conventions including the ban on child and forced labour, the freedom of workers to form trade unions and bargain conditions with their employers and non-discrimination in employment.

It will organise a major international trade union conference in Singapore on the eve of the WTO event and a number of trade unionists will attend the WTO Conference to lobby government delegations.

"The barring of the ILO from attending such an important event whose results will affect workers worldwide flies in the face of freedom of expression and democratic dialogue which govern the the system of universal concertation as normally applied by the UN and related Inter-Governmenta organisations", the ICFTU concluded. For details contact ICFTU Press at ++322 224 02 12. Other OnLine news on Poptel Bulletin Board ICFTU-Online for geonet users and on the WWW at: