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World Conference of UN Labour Organization

World Conference of UN Labour Organization to Tackle "Global Jobs Crisis"

New York, Jun 16 2005 4:00PM

Concluding its annual world conference today, the United Nations labour agency approved a program for its next year that focuses on the creation of decent work for more of the word's population, in a global economic environment that it said is creating jobs much too slowly.

"Faced with a global jobs crisis that involves trillions in GDP growth but just a trickle of new jobs, we need as many good ideas as we can generate to guide our future course of action," Director-General of the International Labour Organization (ILO) Juan Somavia said in his wrap-up of the 93rd International Labour Conference in Geneva.

"The credibility of democracy and open markets are at stake," Mr. Somavia added. "This conference has risen to the challenge by providing a rich laboratory of ideas for our efforts to make decent work a global goal."

In a press statement, the ILO said its new program includes action at the local, national, regional and international levels to create decent jobs for both men and women to address the crisis. Other priorities include the need to eliminate forced labour, create jobs for youth and improve safety at work.

Guest speakers at the conference addressed globalization and the need for decent work. Abdelaziz Bouteflika, President of Algeria and current President of the Arab League, called for the social consequences of globalization to be considered at the Millennium Summit in September. President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria, the current Chair of the African Union (AU), urged Africa's development partners to help make decent work agenda of the ILO a global goal.

During the course of the meeting, ILO's 178 member States also discussed the situation of workers in the occupied Arab territories, the state of labour standards in Belarus, Colombia and other countries and on-going efforts to stop the use of forced labour in Myanmar.

Delegates also considered the current state of working hours and how to balance the need for flexibility with measures to protect workers' security, health and family life, ILO said.

The Conference marked the fourth World Day Against Child Labour by calling for the elimination of child labour in one of the world's most dangerous sectors – small-scale mining and quarrying – within five to 10 years. This "call to action," it said, was aimed at freeing the estimated 1 million or more children aged five to 17 who currently toil in dangerous conditions in small-scale mines and quarries around the world.

More than 3,000 representatives of governments, employers and workers participated in the conference, which began on 31 May.

ENDS

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