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Food crisis and reducing poverty among issues at ILO’s 97th Conference in Geneva

BASSETERRE, St. Kitts (CUOPM) – A tripartite delegation from the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis is among 3,000 government, worker and employer leaders in Geneva, Switzerland for the annual Conference of the International Labour Organization (ILO).

The May 28th to June 13th meeting to discuss a wide range of issues including rural poverty reduction, the latest developments in labour rights and enhancing skills development.

This year, the Caribbean will be represented by tripartite delegations of eight CARICOM countries – Bahamas, Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago. Representatives of two non-metropolitan territories, Bermuda and the Netherlands Antilles, which are also covered by the ILO Sub regional Office for the Caribbean, will be members of the delegations
of the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.

The tripartite delegation from the Federation is comprised of St. Kitts and Nevis High Commissioner to London, His Excellency Mr. James Williams; St. Kitts and Nevis Commissioner of Labour, Mr. Spencer Amory; President of the St. Kitts-Nevis Trades & Labour Union, Mr. Clifford Thomas; Executive Director of the St. Kitts and Nevis Chamber of Industry and Commerce, Ms. Wendy Phipps and St. Kitts and Nevis Honorary Consul in Geneva, Mr. Steven Goldstein.

The annual meeting of the ILO will also consider strategic challenges in terms of obtaining decent work, as well as host a high-level panel discussion on 11 June on “Tackling the Food Crisis through investment, production and decent work.”

ILO Director-General Juan Somavia will provide delegates with an overview of ILO issues and concerns in an address on 9 June. The Director-General will present a new report on “Decent Work – Some Strategic Challenges Ahead” that examines the role of the ILO’s Decent Work Agenda in promoting balance and equity in a world at an economic, financial, social and environmental crossroads.

Among other special events, the plenary will mark the World Day Against Child Labour on 12 June under the theme “Education, the right response to child labour.”

The Conference will also elect new members to the ILO’s Governing Body on 2 June for its next three-year term, and discuss ways of strengthening the capacity of the ILO to assist its member States efforts to reach its objectives in the context of globalization, and enhance employment, social protection, fundamental rights and social dialogue, which are the four main pillars of Decent Work.

The Conference will discuss how to promote rural employment for poverty reduction, fundamental both to the realization of the Millennium Development Goals and the ILO’s Decent Work agenda. Approximately 3.4 billion people, slightly under half of the world’s population, now live in rural areas.

In another general discussion, delegates will examine recent trends in skills development and forward-looking skills policies fostering a ‘virtuous circle’ in terms of higher productivity, more employment of better quality, income growth and development.

The Conference Committee on the Application of Standards will consider information and reports supplied by governments on the effect given to ILO Conventions and Recommendations. The Committee normally discusses some 25 cases of the application of standards by individual countries.

The Committee will also have a special sitting to examine forced labour in Myanmar.

The Committee will discuss a general survey on the social dimension of public procurement and review ways to promote social sustainability of public procurement, and how ILO Convention No. 94 on Labour Clauses can be used to this end.

The Conference Plenary will discuss the ILO’s new Global Report on freedom of association on 6 June. The report, “Freedom of Association in practice: Lessons learned,” says that despite a global trend towards wider recognition of civil rights, millions of workers and employers around the world still lack fundamental rights. The report is
issued under the follow-up of the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work adopted in 1998.

During the discussions in the plenary, tripartite delegates will address the latest ILO report on the situation of workers in the occupied Arab territories.

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