As the International Labor Organization (ILO) gears up to celebrate its centennial in 2019, ILO Director General Guy Ryder met with USCIB and 20 of its company members in Washington DC on July 20 to discuss issues of mutual interest and concern. Topics covered included areas of mutual business including the ILO’s centenary in 2019, the “Future of Work,” the role of governments, the role of business at the ILO, and the work of the standard-setting committee on violence and harassment at the International Labor Conference.
For the centenary, USCIB will seek to organize a business-focused event in 2019, and also participate in an ILO event to celebrate the Philadelphia declaration. Members highlighted that they see the Future of Work, which is the theme of the ILO’s centenary celebration, as a positive opportunity to highlight the impactful role that government education and employment policies, as well as business initiatives to offer apprenticeship and training opportunities, can have to prepare workers for the jobs of the information economy and beyond.
USCIB and its members also stressed the fundamental role governments must play in writing laws that meet international standards and effectively enforcing them, and they stressed the importance of ILO’s continued focus on helping governments carry out those core functions. Business also recommended that the ILO could helpfully prioritize providing support for governments and other tripartite partners with essential job creation, skills, employment and other relevant topics.
USCIB also spoke very clearly about the issue of violence and harassment at work and emphasized U.S. employer commitment to this topic. USCIB Vice President for Corporate Responsibility and Labor Affairs Gabriella Rigg Herzog stated that the topic is right, the time is now – especially in light of the #metoo movement, and the Employers’ hope and expectation is that the ILO is the right institution to push this issue forward. Herzog underscored that Director General Ryder and the ILO Office can provide needed support for the tripartite constituents to help reach an agreed text that provides clear and practical definitions for both public and private sector employers so they can understand their responsibilities and so that governments can be attracted to take the next step and ratify the ILO instrument. An ILO instrument that sits on the shelf that no government ratifies will not have any impact on the ground in counties where guidance and change is needed – most especially on this critical issue of addressing violence and harassment in the workplace.
As the U.S. affiliate to the International Organization of Employers (IOE), USCIB represents U.S. employers at the ILO and provides key input to the governance and policy setting activities.