12 things we learned at the International Labour Conference

Martin Murphy, Director of Communications and Public Information

Martin Murphy, ILO Director of Communications and Public Information (a.i). @martinmurphyilo

As part of our coverage of the 105th Session of the International Labour Conference, we sat down with experts on a whole range of topics to look at some of the biggest issues facing the world of work. These talks were broadcast live to an audience of thousands of people worldwide, who shared their thoughts and questions with our experts. Here’s a short list of some of the things that we learned.

1. What’s the difference between work and decent work?

Millions of people all over the world work hard every day and are still trapped in poverty. ILO Director of Multilaterals Stephen Pursey explains why and describes what it takes for a job to be “decent”. Watch the full session

2. How do brands benefit from decent work in supply chains?

Workers aren’t the only ones who benefit from decent conditions on the factory floor. Brands stand to gain as well and in more ways than one. Here’s Dan Rees, director of the Better Work programme, explaining what makes decent work a win-win for both. Watch the full session.

3. What does decent work have to do with eradicating poverty?

Slowing progress to reduce poverty was a key issue during the conference and the subject of Director-General Guy Ryder’s annual report to delegates. An important theme of discussion was: how can promoting decent work reduce poverty and what is ILO’s role? During our discussion, ILO’s Matthew Ripley gave a succinct answer. Watch the full session.

4. Who bears the burden for workplace accidents and injuries?

A recent ILO report estimates that some 2.3 million people die of work-related causes each year. Every 15 seconds, more than 153 workers have an accident at work. The annual cost of these accidents and injuries are staggering, but who pays for them? Nancy Leppink, Chief of the Labour Administration, Labour Inspection and Occupational Safety and Health Branch of the ILO, gave us the breakdown. Watch the full session.

5. Why did workers and employers come together to stop bullying at sea?

A highlight of this year’s conference was the addition of new guidelines to tackle bullying and harassment among seafarers to the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006. During our discussion at the ILC, Tim Springett from the UK Chamber of Shipping explained why workers and employers came together to bring that about. Watch the full session.

6. What can young people do to prepare for the world of work of tomorrow?

New technologies and shifting demographics are changing the world of work before our eyes. What can young people do to prepare for a world of work in the throes of transformation? During our conversation on the future of work, ILO Deputy-Director of Research Lawrence J. Johnson offered a few pieces of advice. Watch the full session.

7. Can we afford to “green” our economies?

The transition to an economy able to create prosperity for a growing population without destroying the Earth poses a formidable challenge. But ILO Green Jobs expert Mustapha Kamal Gueye argues that the economic opportunities of this move will far outweigh the costs. Watch the full session

8. What have we learned about how countries can respond to an economic crisis?

The global economic slowdown provided some valuable lessons about the ways countries can respond to a crisis. ILO Director of Social Protection Isabel Ortiz looked at two different policy trends and the results they achieved. Watch the full session.

9. Why is it harder for young women to find good jobs than for young men?

During our conversation about young people, ILO senior youth employment specialist Sara Elder described being a young a women as a “double strike” in today’s labour market. Here she explains some of the hurdles they continue to face in both developed and developing countries. Watch the full session.

10. What do jobs mean for people who lost their homes and jobs in a crisis?

For people hit by a crisis, access to employment means more than meeting their basic needs. During our conversation on decent work in fragile states and crises, ILO Regional Director for Africa Aeneas Chuma highlighted another aspect, which is just as important. Watch the full session

11. How can migrants gain the skills they need to be productive members of the workforce?

Where migrants have access to the workforce, they often have little trouble finding jobs. However, they may not have the language or technical skills they need to work at their full potential. Michelle Leighton, chief of ILO’s Migration Branch, offers some solutions for how those skills can be acquired. Watch the full session.

12. Are we any closer to gender equality at the workplace than we were 20 years ago?

Despite modest gains in some regions of the world, ILO work-family specialist Laura Addati explains that in other regions, women’s participation in the labour market has actually decreased. Watch the full session.

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