Opening address at the ASEAN Labour Inspection Conference 2014

By Ms Laura Brewer, Deputy Director of ILO Country Office for the Philippines, on behalf of Mr Lawrence Jeff Johnson, Director of the ILO Country Office for the Philippines at the at the ASEAN Labour Inspection Conference 2014, Manila, Philippines, 3 July 2014

Statement | Manila, Philippines | 03 July 2014
  • Honourable Secretary Baldoz, Undersecretary Chato, Director Parado and officials of the Department of Labor and Employment,
  • Distinguished ASEAN labour ministry officials,
  • Ms Patterson of the International Association for Labour Inspection,
  • Representatives of employers’ and workers’ organizations,
  • Colleagues from ILO Geneva and Bangkok,
  • Ladies and gentlemen, good morning to all of you!
It is an honour to join you on this 4th ASEAN Labour Inspection Conference. Mr Lawrence Jeff Johnson, Director of the ILO Country Office for the Philippines is unable to join us today. He sends his warm regards and best wishes for the success of this conference. I am very pleased to deliver this message on behalf of the ILO.

Thank you for inviting the ILO and providing us with an opportunity to share our frameworks and perspectives on labour inspection, which colleagues from ILO Bangkok and Geneva will present later today.

The ILO recognizes the importance of labour inspection in promoting decent work towards achieving sustainable and inclusive growth. Indeed, labour inspection is key to healthy, safe and productive workplaces as it secures the enforcement of labour laws and policies, thereby:
  • improving safety and health,
  • protecting wages while guaranteeing social security,
  • promoting freedom of association and non-discrimination, and
  • ensuring compliance to labour laws such as child labour policies.

Labour inspectors play a critical role in ensuring that labour laws and standards are applied in the workplace. They guide employers and workers in improving employment and working conditions. In addition, labour inspectors assist national authorities by drawing attention to loopholes and gaps in policies and systems so that they can be addressed.

The ILO’s position on labour inspection is reflected in its International Labour Standards namely of two labour inspection conventions: To date, 78 per cent of ILO member States have ratified ILO Convention No. 81 including ASEAN countries - Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Viet Nam; 29 per cent have ratified ILO Convention No. 129.

These labour inspection conventions are critical. They provide the principles for effective labour inspection. The impact is far reaching as it helps prevent and address occupational accidents and illnesses, absenteeism, abuse of workers, and labour conflicts,

It also helps enhance productivity, improve employer-employee relations, ensure fairness in the workplace, and promote equitable economic development not only within a state but also, more critically, across a region that is attempting to align labour markets and policies among its members.

Furthermore, labour inspection has the pivotal role in promoting compliance with principles and rights underpinned by international labour standards. It is a key element of good labour market governance and plays an important role in labour administration. Efficient and effective labour inspection processes have the potential to enhance labour productivity in the ASEAN region by guaranteeing a decent work environment.

The importance of labour inspection in the social and economic development is reflected in the ILO’s Areas of Critical Importance (ACI). This means a particular focus on this area in the coming years, in many countries, including countries in ASEAN.

Recognition of the importance of engaging key players - social partners, employers and workers - serves to strengthen the enforcement mechanism as their members are the direct recipients of labour inspection.

This, the 4th ASEAN Labour Inspection Conference, provides us with an opportunity to look at the pressing issues and important opportunities that would help us understand the current context of labour inspection practices and how we can move forward as a region. Some of the pressing challenges in building and maintaining effective labour inspection systems include lack of central coordination or weak administration, new forms of employment, inadequate financial resources, insufficient training, new technologies and work processes, weak administration and other related challenges.

In view of the coming ASEAN economic integration, we at the ILO view strong and effective labour inspection as key to ensuring good governance, levelling the playing field and promoting decent work, which have a direct impact on achieving sustainable and inclusive growth.

By the end of this conference, we hope that we are able to meet the following objectives:
  • to adopt implementation strategies on how to proceed with the Action Plan agreed upon during the 2nd conference in Dong Nai, Vietnam and
  • to gather recommendations for the development of labour inspection guidelines for migrant-reliant sectors in the ASEAN region.
We are grateful for the opportunity of being with you here today as ASEAN member States share information and exchange ideas on how to promote decent work. This forum also serves as an opportunity for countries to share their experiences on the benefits of ratifying ILO Conventions related to labour inspection. It will also be good to see how each of you reach out to other countries and collectively find solutions to address challenges. Learning from other experiences is key to finding solutions to varying challenges.

We look forward to the discussions and lessons that will come of this conference, just as we in ASEAN equally learn from the practices of other countries in the world.

Again, thank you again for welcoming ILO’s engagement into this regional process. We wish you a productive and successful conference!