“Respected Chairman and Delegates,
As we celebrate the Centenary International Labour Conference here in Geneva, we have many reasons to celebrate the successes of the International Labour Organization (ILO). It is right and proper that we take the time to reflect on our successes.
It is also a time where we would need to conduct an honest appraisal of ourselves, and ask as to whether we have done enough to achieve the goals of the ILO. What is evident is that we live in a world where a small minority are extremely wealthy and control not just the means of production, but also the political and economic systems. Whilst some time ago this was confined within national boundaries, it now stretches across the globe and the problem has become more acute.
Income and wealth inequality has only grown, dislocating people, growing informal economy, cultures, societies and economies. The reason that this malaise has grown is that we have a system that allows the wealthy and rich to write the rules that enrich themselves further and at the expense of the 99%.
For all the advances that we have made globally, there is still widespread global hunger, unemployment, underemployment and the exploitation of the labor class. This cannot be allowed to continue, and the political changes that we are seeing all over the world is telling us that the common people are unhappy and disenfranchised with the status quo.
We need global standards of labor to complement and even rival the rules of trade. That way, the benefits of increasing global trade can be enjoyed by all and not just a small minority.
The right of workers to be represented by an independent and free trade union has been challenged continuously by the capitalist machinery. This has caused a growing divide within the larger society and can only be corrected if there is a genuine effort by all parties, including governments and employers, to ensure that workers have a right of proper representation by trade union.
Many a time, platitudes are exchanged during a conference such as this, only for the reality on the ground to be something very different.
The time has come where we move towards “decent living”, and that extends to beyond just a decent wage. It cannot be seen as merely an aspiration, but as a basic human right that must be accorded to all human beings.
In Malaysia, the social partners will be signing the Decent Work Country Programme tomorrow, though it is historical and we welcome it but it is unfortunate that the very organisation which preaches about social dialogue did not execute the same when the document was finalised. The program ought to prioritise the needs of the constituents and of all workers; i.e. the emphasis should be on all workers and on integration between migrant and Malaysian workers, not separation and discrimination.
Discrimination such as, out of 6 projects in Malaysia 5 involving Migrants allocated amount is US50million and 1 project involving both local and migrant workers the allocated amount is merely around US1.5 million.
ILO need to integrate Migrant and local workers in Malaysia not otherwise and the Office should not compromise its principles over the donors imposition which may at times be disadvantage to the workers in Malaysia and the growth of the nation.
MTUC is full of praise for the Malaysian Government in embarking on Labour Law Reforms but it must be executed genuinely with the constituents. It is unfortunate that C 87 is not ratified as much as MTUC was hoping that the Malaysian Government will ratify it at this Centenary. Nevertherless, MTUC will continue to promote the ratification and we are confident the government will ratify C87 in the very near future.
Mr Chairman and Delegates,
I would conclude here by stating that we need to work on tangible measures to make a real difference and achieve the goals of the ILO so that the wealth of the world given by God freely is equitably shared by all humans.
Thank you “
18th June 2019