International Labour Conference 2021 - speech of David Joyce Irish Worker Delegate

10 Jun 2021

saw sparks

Speech of David Joyce, Irish Worker Delegate

International Labour Conference 2021

Text below, and you can view the speech by clicking here and choosing "David Joyce" from drop down speaker menu.

Esteemed President,

It is my privilege to address the 109th international labour conference of the ILO on behalf of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions.

I welcome the report of the Director-General: Work in the time of COVID, including the Draft Conference outcome document, “A global call to action for a human-centred recovery from the COVID-19 crisis that is inclusive, sustainable and resilient[1]

For us, the document has been a good basis for the discussion in that Committee. But at the same time, we believe that the ILO needs to become more ambitious and impactful and have been pursuing further improvements, the ingredients of a new social contract if you like, including:

  • The need for a rights-based approach and the recognition of the key role of social dialogue;  
  • The reversal of the dramatic inequalities that have been exposed during the COVID-19 crisis
  • The need for adequate labour and social protection, including access to health care and paid sick leave, and benefit from income support in times of crisis, combined with the need for measures to support employment;
  • Universal, free and immediate access to vaccines and other vital public health tools;
  • The urgency to declare OSH as a fundamental right;
  • Any recovery policy or action must be gender-inclusive, reflecting the disproportionate impact of the crisis on women;
  • The need for universal social protection and the provision of global solidarity to support those countries who do not even have basic systems of social protection in place;
  • And for the day that is in it today, and end to the estimated 160 million children in child labour globally;
  • A strong leadership role for the ILO

These are all live issues in Ireland where it took a pandemic to shed light on the many failings in how the State protects workers’ living standards in the context of a temporary loss of earnings. Our labour market was facing major weaknesses and challenges before Covid 19 and these can be best addressed by ensuring decent pay for every worker through collective bargaining by trade unions of their choice, radical reform of the social security system as well as the enhanced provision of comprehensive universal public services, in line with the services provided in other high-income European countries.

President, as they come to the end of their first term as a Titulaire member of this organisation governing body, let me use this opportunity to also put on record our thanks to the Irish Government and the prominent role they played on many issues.  I also look forward to the early ratification of Convention 190.  

Finally, I want to note the report on the situation of workers of the occupied Arab territories and the decent work deficits it outlines[2]. The last year has been extraordinarily difficult for Palestinian workers, with tens of thousands losing their jobs, incomes and livelihoods. Meanwhile, the occupation has continued unabated and there has been an acceleration in the expansion of settlements. As the report points out, ultimately, Palestinian workers will only be able to enjoy their full rights and dignity if and when the occupation is ended. In that regard, I want to end by welcoming the recent passing of a motion in our parliament declaring that Israel’s settlement activity in the West Bank represents the unlawful de facto annexation of Palestinian land and hope and expect others to follow this lead in calling Israel to account.

May I also send our solidarity to our brothers and sisters struggling for peace, democracy and respect for human rights in Myanmar, Hong Kong, Colombia, and Belarus.

Thank you, President.