Myanmar: UN agency voices ‘great frustration’ at failure to respond on forced labour

17 November 2006

The Governing Body of the United Nations International Labour Office (ILO) wrapped its latest session today, voicing “great frustration” at Myanmar’s failure to agree on how to deal with complaints of forced labour, seeking urgent cooperation from Belarus, and calling for stricter inspections worldwide to protect workers’ rights.

The Governing Body of the United Nations International Labour Office (ILO) wrapped its latest session today, voicing “great frustration” at Myanmar’s failure to agree on how to deal with complaints of forced labour, seeking urgent cooperation from Belarus, and calling for stricter inspections worldwide to protect workers’ rights.

On Myanmar, delegates requested “that the Government conclude with the ILO such an agreement as a matter of utmost urgency and decided to place on the agenda of its March 2007 session a specific item to enable it to move on legal options, including involving the International Court of Justice (the UN’s highest tribunal),” ILO said in a news release.

The Governing Body also asked ILO Director-General Juan Somavia to bring relevant documentation to the attention of the UN Security Council when it considers the situation in Myanmar.

On Belarus, the Governing Body decided to reconsider the issue at its March session in light of recent discussions which the Government. Meanwhile, it called on the country “to cooperate as a matter of urgency” so that planned legislative changes would conform with the ILO Conventions on Freedom of Association and the Right to Collective Bargaining.

The Committee on Employment and Social Policy examined how the quantity and quality of labour inspections worldwide can be improved through an integrated labour inspection system to protect the rights of millions of workers around the globe.

The new measures will contribute to preventing some of the 2.2 million annual fatal work accidents and the spread of diseases such as HIV/AIDS. Effective systems for labour inspection are also vital in the struggle to eliminate child labour, forced labour and discrimination in the workplace.

In the face of mounting challenges to the worldwide force of national labour inspectors, which at an estimated 120,000 is stretched thin across global workplaces, proposed new measures include tripartite labour inspection audits carried out by ILO, workers’ and employers’ representatives.

In other actions the Committee called on the Colombian Government “to put an end to the intolerable impunity and to take all possible steps to provide effective protection for all trade union members” in light of new alleged murders, disappearances and detentions.

It also called on the Eritrean Government to immediately release three detained union leaders, requested the Guatemalan Government to inform it urgently of its investigations into the murder of two labour officials, and deplored the lack of reply by the Zimbabwean Government to serious allegations concerning the arrest, harassment and beating of trade unionists.

 

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