AITUC has been pivotal in upholding the ILO’s values and principles, especially in times of crisis like the pandemic

Opening remarks at the 42nd National Conference of AITUC in Alappuzha by Mr Satoshi Sasaki, Deputy Director, ILO DWT/CO-New Delhi

Statement | Alappuzha, Kerala | 17 December 2022
On behalf of the ILO, I am delighted to express my solidarity with all of you in this auspicious event. Sincere thanks to AITUC leadership for inviting me to join the Congress. AITUC celebrated its hundred years in 2019, which is identical to the founding year of ILO. For any organisation in the labour movement, it is a matter of pride to work for one hundred years and move ahead even more strongly. This is a glaring example of the labour movement around the world. I am really encouraged to see the workers’ organisation start at the very initial stage of industrialization of the country and participate in the freedom struggle of India.

As we all know and we can feel from our day-to-day experience, the World of Work is changing fast, and we need to prepare ourselves to face the existing and future challenges. Technology changes a lot in the nature of jobs, the fast-growing informal sector and informalizing the work, demographic change with the huge number of youth in the job or looking for jobs, and climate change which affects many workers.

For the Trade Unions in India, the challenges are multi-folds. On one hand, they are struggling to ensure decent work for the workers, in particular for those who are working in the vast informal sector still out of labour protection coverage. On the other hand, there is an urgent need to reformulate the strategies to outreach and organise the workers in the new platform economy, care economy and other new emerging forms of employment.

We are still fighting against the COVID 19 pandemic and its effect on the lives and livelihoods of millions around the world. No doubt workers are the worse affected by the pandemic and lockdown. This crisis exposed many faults in the system and vulnerability of workers in general and the needs for effective social dialogues practice in the country from enterprise to the national level.

The strong TUs movement is necessary to stand for the workers and work together with the government and business associations to tackle the crisis and for an inclusive response. I know Indian TUs, including AITUC, proved their presence in times of need. I again express my gratitude to TU leaders and activists those who dedicatedly stand for the workers, especially the informal sector workers including migrant workers.

Friends, many of you are aware that in recent years, ILO has taken number of initiatives. In 2019 the ILO marked its centenary with the adoption of the Centenary Declaration for the Future of Work. Declaration recognizes that the world of work is undergoing transformative change and sets out a road map of action for the Organization and its tripartite constituents to shape these changes through a human-centred approach to the future of work.

In June last year, the ILO Member States and their employer and worker representatives adopted a Global Call to Action for a Human-Centred Recovery. The Global Call has set forth a comprehensive agenda of measures to be taken by governments and social partners to achieve sustainable, inclusive and job-rich recovery from the pandemic crisis. It also calls for international cooperation and support from multilateral institutions to national “human-centred” recovery strategies. In the International Labour Conference in June this year, Constituents have taken a significant decision to include OSH as FPRW and include C155 and C187 as ILO core conventions. I want to mention with utmost recognition that immediately after the Conference, Indian Central Trade Unions met together and signed a joint resolution expressing their strong commitment to promoting OSH as Fundamental Principle and Rights at Work. They also make a call to government to ensure the safety of workers as a fundamental principle. Thanks to Amarjeet Kaur for her leading role to adopt the resolution.

Friends, ILO is committed to seeing the future of work with the guarantee of a decent job for all, together with equality and social justice. With other UN organisations and social partners, we are working towards achieving SDGs to make this world inclusive for all. I am aware that, you are continuing your efforts together with other national trade unions for advancing the workers’ rights and dignity, and in achieving social justice through ensuring Decent Work for all, which include the campaign for ratification of ILO Conventions, including two core conventions 87 and 98.

As an ILO constituent, AITUC has been playing a pivotal role to uphold ILO’s values and principles throughout its journey over the past years. I do believe it will continue as strongly as it has been in the past. Once again, I thank each one of you, and wish you all the success of the congress.