ILO vows to Support Nepal

ILO vows to Support Nepal

Dec. 20, 2016, 5:45 p.m. Published in Magazine Issue: Vol.10, No.9, December. 16, 2016 (Poush 01,2073)

ILO Director-General Guy Ryder returned Kathmandu concluding his three days visit recently. During his stay in Nepal, ILO Director-General Guy Ryder attended a function to mark 50th Anniversary of the ILO-Nepal partnership.

Along with the chief guest of the program, prime minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda, ILO Director-General Guy Ryder released a book on 50th anniversary of the ILO-Nepal partnership.

During his visit, Director-General of the International Labour Organization (ILO) Guy Ryder also met Minister for Labour and Employment, Surya Man Gurung.

During the meeting, the two agreed to forge a common view point on the international issues. Ryder also lauded Nepal's effort to ensure safety and regulations for labour sector of the country.

In a bid to make foreign employment sector safe, he suggested to prioritize labour agreement with the labour contributing countries.

Director-General Ryder extended gratitude to Nepal for remaining signatory to various conventions and resolutions of the ILO and expressed his confidence that it would also sign in the other important ILO conventions.

The International Labour Organization (ILO) — the United Nations’ specialized body dealing with labour issues, particularly international labour standards, social protection, and work opportunities for all — has said that it will intensify cooperation with Nepal in the days to come as the country comes out of a long political transition through the promulgation of the new Constitution and is moving towards economic prosperity.

On the occasion of 50 years of cooperation with Nepal, ILO has set its sight on supporting the country’s progress on the path of decent job creation within the country.

Addressing a press conference,  the visiting dignitary said that ILO is willing to provide extensive support to Nepal to implement the Employment Policy-2014. “We have expertise working with the government to realise the objectives envisioned in the policy.”

He said that Nepal, as a young populous country, should take advantage of its burgeoning population for the rapid development of the country. “The enormous job opportunities in the country through harnessing potential in tourism, hydroelectricity development and physical infrastructure, among others could make migration a choice for individuals rather than a compulsion.”

Emphasizing on fair, transparent recruitment system in the labor recipient countries, Ryder said that the governing board of the ILO has adopted the fair recruitment guidelines in November after holding a series of negotiations with member countries (particularly, labor sending and labor recipient countries), to make the recruitment system transparent and ensure the rights of the migrant workers are respected. Though the guideline is voluntary, it will make the labour recipient countries more responsible in ensuring decent working environment, he said.

Apart from the government, ILO has been working with trade unions and employers (private sector) to ensure decent jobs, which is one of the 17 goals for sustainable development that the United Nations member countries have adopted, according to him.

As technological advancement has been leading the world towards ‘technological determinism’, which is assumed to destroy job opportunities for humans, Ryder believes that technology should be utilized for the betterment of the society.

Full Statement of ILO Director-General Guy Ryder delivered during the inaugural program.

It is my great pleasure to join you here today to celebrate 50 years of partnership between the International Labour Organization and the government, employers and workers of Nepal. I would also like to take the opportunity to congratulate and thank the Nepalese people for their efforts in making this partnership such a success.

   Each time, I pass the doors of Room XI at our Geneva headquarters-where many meetings are held, I am reminded of the ILO’s rich shared history with your country. You joined the ILO in 1996 and in 1974, the government of Nepal contributed a set of beautifully carved wooden panel doors to the new ILO headquarters building, Designed by S.D. Ashanta and crafted in Patan, Nepal, these panels travelled from Kathmandu to Calcutta by road and train, and finally to Geneva to be installed in time for the official inauguration of the building on 12 November 1974.

 The doors depict carved images that are based on important motifs from your cultural past. In October 1974, ILO Director-General, Francis Blanchard, sent thanks to Nepal, assuring that the gift would “stand as a lasting token of your country’s attachment to the aims and ideas of our organization”.

  Indeed, - despite periods of extraordinary political and economic hardship- Nepal has sought to place social justice at the heart of its development and decent work agenda. You have demonstrated your commitment to children by becoming the first country in Asia to implement a time-bound programme for the elimination of the worst forms of child labour. You were also the first nation in South Asia and the only second country in Asia and the Pacific Region to ratify the ILO Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention, Convention 169.

  Similarly, there have been commendable efforts to eliminate bonded labour-although more still needs to be achieved in this area.

Today, therefore, is an opportunity to look at what we have achieved in Nepal and map the next steps for your country.

 I have just returned from our 16th Asia and Pacific Regional Meeting in Bali, Indonesia, where governments, employers and workers from Asia, the Pacific and the Arab region have discussed challenges and priorities for action in these regions, including globalization, rising inequality, demography, climate change and last but not least, the organization of work and production in an era of unprecedented advances in technology.

 At the meeting, I urged participants to explore ways to harness these global trends to shape a future of work that delivers benefits to all. We have two good reasons to do so:

The United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda commits us to “leave no behind” while the ILO’s goal of Decent Work for All embraces the same principle.

Today we find ourselves at a key point in history to make this happen. I see the global political developments of the last few months as a revolt of the dispossessed, of people – workers - who feels they haven’t benefited from globalization, from the way things are organized.

 And I think that their feelings, their frustration, their disillusionment are very much generated from people’s experience of work, whether that’s their exclusion from work, or their insertion in labour markets in conditions, which they find unacceptable.

If too many people in any society feel that they are “being left behind”, there is a strong chance that disruptive force will undermine growth and destabilize social and political harmony.

This is important to keep in mind when we look back at 50 years of partnership between the ILO and Nepal. Many of the challenges that Nepal has faced in its modern history have stemmed from the need for inclusive growth and a fair distribution of wealth and opportunities across this diverse society.

Today we recognize how far Nepal has come in overcoming extraordinary challenges in creating a unified democratic state through a more diverse and inclusive Constituent Assembly. Your country has overcome a ten-year civil war, promulgated a new Constitution in 2015, and had to face two massive earthquakes in April and May 2015. The new Constitution has a strong focus on human rights, containing provisions on Decent Work that call for freedom of association, collective bargaining, fair working conditions and social protection for all workers. The example of Nepal powerfully demonstrates that, in situations of crisis and post-disaster, social dialogue between government and the social partners contributes to strengthening civil peace, democracy and reconstruction.

    Social dialogue is a vital tool for inclusive economic and social development and for good governance. It is a means for ensuring the freedom and fundamental rights of people, and ultimately for providing decent, respectful, healthy, and safe workplaces. We also believe that it is the best foundation for successful and sustainable businesses, both in global supply chains and at national levels.

Over the last 50 years, we have worked together to build and strengthen the institutions for promoting decent work in Nepal, including the creation of a strong and impressive organization of employers- the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industries-, and a group of highly committed and well-coordinated workers’ organizations, which have joined hands under the Joint Trade Union Coordination Centre. Last but not least, the Ministry of Labour and Employment has made great strides in building a policy framework based on international labour standards and best practices.

We have made progress in creating more and better jobs to support a lasting peace in Nepal. We have pioneered labour intensive approaches to infrastructure development that have increased food security and delivered quality jobs to those who need them the most.

We have made progress in promoting equality and non-discrimination for all workers, and we have paid special attention to the challenges faced by women, people from rural and highland areas, those from so-called lower castes, and ethnic and indigenous peoples.

We have also laid the foundation for a social protection floor that is fundamental to ensuring that all women and men reap the benefits of development and contribute to productive growth and national solidarity.

But let me look forward now.

We know that the world of work is changing with unprecedented rapidity, scale and depth. This transformation is accompanied by high levels of uncertainty, and in some cases, fear of change. So, the aim is to understand that is going on in the world of worm, renew our commitment to social justice and draw conclusions about our future action.

This is why we have launched a dialogue with our global membership on the future of work. We are structuring this dialogue around four ‘conversations.’

The first conversation is about the world and society.We make an error of economic reduction if we believe that the significance of work is limited to its capacity for material provision; to enable us to live, to eat and have shelter. Certainly, with Decent Work as we in the ILO understand it, there is a notion of self-realization, establishing purpose in life; caring for the family and for the greater good of society.

It is time that we place inclusive growth at the heart of all of our efforts to promote jobs growth and decent work. This means that labour policies should recognize the needs of all groups to access skills and decent work opportunities.

Employers should revisit investment and hiring practices to ensure that job opportunities cover those in greatest need from disadvantaged castes, classes, ethnic and indigenous groups, women, migrants, youth and others. Similarly, Nepal’s workers’ organizations should promote a more diverse membership base that places those in greatest need at the centre.

All of our constituents and partners should create a more diverse leadership pool that reflects the social and cultural landscape of the societies which they represent.

The second conversation is about where the jobs are coming from.It is necessary to accelerate your country’s efforts to promote domestic employment. Nepal passed a comprehensive employment policy in late 2014 that calls for a focused multi-sectorial effort to project jobs. To make sure that this policy has maximum effect, leadership and regular monitoring are essential. Right Honorable Prime Minister, I am confident that you will steer this policy to ensure its broadest and most effective implementation.

Migration remittances continue to decline, and to sustain the post-earthquake recovery that is just starting to pick up, a range of measures need to be in place to increase investment.  There is also needs for improvements in the business environment for large and small scale, foreign and domestic investment; improvements in workforce skills that are well linked to current and future market needs; and measures to assist disadvantaged groups to access skills and job opportunities.

The third conversation is around the organization of production.There is a lot of talk about the increase in global supply chains, the fragmentation of production across borders, and the organization of production in ways that we haven’t really thought of in the past.

Labour migration should be part of this discussion.

An estimated 1,500 Nepalese leave the country daily, not counting those who go to India, who are not registered because a long-standing bilateral agreement between the governments of India and Nepal means they do not need work permits. The remittances they send home make up almost one-third of Nepal’s gross domestic product. Today nearly 1500 people leave Nepal every day seeking work abroad, and 1 one of every 4 households has a family member working abroad.

While labour migration generates substantial benefits for Nepal in terms of jobs and remittances and human resources for countries of destination, challenges such as abuses during recruitment and employment are quite common and have been well documented.

To address these issues, the ILO has initiated a recruitment project in Nepal as part of a global initiative to foster fair recruitment practices and prevent human trafficking. Solving the problems is a mammoth task that involves plugging holes in a recruitment chain that starts from small remote villages and extends to different landing points overseas to addressing corruption at the various levels of government.

So let us continue our efforts to address those forms of work which are most unacceptable to workers. Nepal has made strides with its Free Ticket, Free Visa policy, but we should work closely to make that policy a reality for all migrant workers, event those who come from the most remote areas.

Finally, the fourth conversation is about what we do about all of this? How do we govern the world of work? Ultimately, the question is now whether the policies, practices and institutions that we have built are adequate to the task of conducting a socially just future of work.

I think the most important thing here is to keep alive the social dialogue you have successfully engaged in. We need to strengthen our commitment to collective bargaining and freedom of association as this is key to ensure inclusive growth. We must remain vigilant to protect the right of workers’ organizations to participate in productive dialogue with employers and government on all issues and policies affecting their well-being. Laws and policies which attempt to curtail the right of workers to organize and negotiate their interests will ultimately fail. Eliminating these fundamental rights as a perceived shortcut to growth will undermine that growth.

So that’s the agenda. I think we have the building blocks firmly in place to address these challenges. Our past 50 years of collaboration shows this very clearly. So let me conclude with my main message that the ILO will continue to stand by you in firm partnership, and together we will achieve social justice for all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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