In his capacity as the UK Employer Governing Body representative at the International Labour Organisation (ILO), Penningtons Manches partner Chris Syder led the CBI’s delegation at the recent International Labour Conference, the ILO’s annual general assembly.
Based in Geneva, Switzerland, the ILO is part of the United Nations and its annual ILO conference involves 184 member states which send tripartite delegations on behalf of national employer organisations, national trade unions and labour ministries. It is also attended by numerous NGOs and international trade unions.
Chris represented the interests of UK business when the ILO supervised the UK’s new Trade Union Act 2016. In total, a further 23 countries were also supervised, including Qatar for its discrimination laws. The UK case concerned a complaint brought to the ILO by the TUC on the basis that the new Trade Union Act is in breach of the UK’s international obligations following its ratification of ILO Convention 87.
Convention 87 is notorious in the context of the ILO, as it concerns the freedom to associate and right to organise. This is especially important to the trade unions as it is disputed that Convention 87 includes a right to strike and strike action obligations. The UK case was successfully resolved with a general agreement that requires the UK Government to provide further information by November 2016. The ILO was also prevented from requesting an amendment to the new Act, which would have been highly problematic in the event of a Brexit.
In addition, Chris and his UK colleagues engaged fully in the discussions on the challenges of decent work deficits in global supply chains. This was especially relevant in the context of the UK’s new Modern Slavery Act and guidance. Deficits include, among others, modern slavery, poverty, and poor health and safety. Again, there was general agreement about future ILO action, which will include developing new global guidance and possible new ILO standards to reduce labour rights deficits in global supply chains.
For more information, please contact Chris Syder.