Upcoming International Labour Organisation (ILO) Conference & Constitution Amendment

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Labour

08 March 2007
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Meeting Summary

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Meeting report

LABOUR PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
9 March 2007
UPCOMING INTERNATIONAL LABOUR ORGANISATION (ILO) CONFERENCE & CONSTITUTION AMENDMENT

Chairperson:
Ms O Kasienyane (ANC)

Documents handed out:
Department of Labour (DoL) presentation

Audio recording of the meeting

SUMMARY
The Department of Labour gave a briefing on an amendment to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) constitution and it outlined the agenda items for the upcoming ILO conference in June.  The aim of the amendment is to allow for a simple abrogation of obsolete international conventions. The conference agenda includes standard setting for work in the fishing sector, strengthening of sustainable enterprise in the context of globalisation.

The discussion centred around the members of the Labour committee attending the conference and the more comprehensive briefing of the Labour Committee before the conference by the Department of Labour to the committee to obtain a better understanding of the amendment to the constitution of the ILO and its impact on the South African Labour laws

MINUTES
Amendment to International Labour Organisation (ILO) constitution
Mr Thembinkosi Mkalipi (Senior Executive Manager, Labour Relations: DoL) described the legal requirements for amending the constitution of the International Labour Organisation.  He explained the aim of the current amendment which is to allow for the abrogation of international conventions that have become outdated so they can then be removed from the International Labour Organisation’s body of standards.

The effect of abrogation was explained and how the amendment would be entered into force. It will enter into force once ratified by two-thirds of ILO members. This means 120 States out of 179, and currently 81 have ratified it.
 
Agenda items for the ILO June 2007 Conference
Mr Mkalipi discussed the following agenda items (see document for full details):
- Reports of the Chairperson of the Governing Body and of the Director General
- Global report on the elimination of discrimination in respect of employment and occupation
- Programme and Budget proposals for 2008/09
- Information and reports on the application of Conventions and Recommendations
- Work in the Fishing Sector - Standard setting, with a view to the adoption of a Convention and
- Strengthening ILO capacity to assist members’ efforts to reach its objectives in the context of globalisation
- The promotion of sustainable enterprises

Discussion
The Chairperson stated that it would be helpful for the members to be fully briefed before the conference and that a representative of the Committee would attend the conference.

Mr N Nene (ANC) commented that the drafting of the new legislation needed to be led by the Department of Labour. At the previous year’s conference, representatives of business had been reluctant to get involved and left before the voting occurred.  This meant that the vote had not been passed.

The Chairperson responded by asking why business had left at such a crucial time when the voting for the amendment would take place.

Mr Mkongi (ANC) commented that the involvement of Parliament was key and that the presentation was clear. Before clauses would be incorporated or left out it would be helpful for the Committee to endorse that.

The Chairperson suggested that the Global Report also needed to mention the elimination of discrimination and that the focus needed to be in this area.  She suggested that it would be helpful to have public hearings on this and asked the members how this could be done.

Mr O Mogale (ANC) stated that the issue of working conditions in the fishing sector needed to be raised and that a clear document on the fishing sector should be issued.

Mr Mkalipi said that he would brief the Committee before the conference in June 2007.

The Chairperson stated that she was attempting to lobby Parliament so that as many members as possible from the this committee could attend the conference.

Mr Mkalipi noted that in 2006, fishing had been discussed at length at the conference and the point was raised as to who constitutes an employee.  The First World countries led the discussion.  He suggested that the members be briefed on all the issues and that agenda items for the conference be discussed with the members timeously so that the relevant issues could be brought up at the conference.

He suggested that discrimination be discussed on the platform of public hearings and that those people who are affected by discrimination be given a platform. The approach taken would need to be supported by the members.

The Chairperson asked why the Businesses (Employer Organisation delegates) had walked out just before voting at the previous governing body conference.

Mr Mkalipi replied that the international business organisations as well as local South African business organisations walked out.  It was a tactic of business for the vote not to be passed as it would be invalid if not all sectors were present at the voting.  The topic of the amendment to the constitution of the ILO needed to be re-introduced.

The Chairperson suggested that the South African delegation should be made up of business and government together as a team which should be led by government, and enquired as to the implications this would have.

Mr Mkongi expressed anger that the business community could have such an impact on the issue and enquired as to the attitude of South African and international business.

Mr P Zulu (IFP) suggested that a discussion be held with business leaders who would attend the conference on their return this year so as to see the reaction and the result of their influence on the legislation of the ILO.

Mr S Siboza (ANC) noted that it was the fishing sector’s wish that the convention introducing a comprehensive standard on work in the fishing sector be adopted and asked at what level interaction was taking place with the fishing industry.

Ms T Lishivha (ANC) commented that to the fishing industry this was a serious matter and that no African members seemed to be on the Governing Body of the ILO.

Ms N Moss (ANC) suggested that questions should be prepared and that the item on fishing was especially relevant to the Western Cape.  The workshop should be extended to all stakeholders.  The amendment needed to be discussed and agreed upon by both Labour and Government.  The programme for the conference should be prioritised with a discussion with the Minister of Labour in South Africa.

The Chairperson suggested that more time was needed to discuss the amendment and that during the workshop a programme for the conference could be suggested

Mr Mkalipi suggested that a day be arranged with the committee to discuss those issues and others that might occur.  This would give more time for the issues.  With regard to the fishing convention, more time was needed to prepare; however this was possible to accomplish.  A programme needed to be worked out before the ILO conference so that more value from South Africa should be given in the conference discussions.

The Chairperson enquired as to how many countries had taken part in the ILO conference.

Mr Mkalipi  replied that there were 179 countries attending and each one had ratified the amendment.  The 2007 conference dates were from 30 May until 15 June and included the fishing issue.  A conference for Southern Africa in Walvis Bay was in the process of been finalised to discuss the problems faced in the fishing sector in Southern Africa which could be presented to the ILO at that conference.

The Chairperson thanked the Department of Labour and stated that a briefing before the conference of the ILO would be beneficial and also needed to be considered at Parliament level.

The meeting was adjourned.


 

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