More than 5,000 delegates and 45 heads of state are attending this year's International Labor Conference, an 11-day conference in Geneva that marks the International Labor Organization's 100th anniversary.
ILO Director-General Guy Ryder noted that the world of work has undergone profound, transformational changes during the past century. But he said the core values of the organization remain the same — that the ILO was founded on the basis of social justice and on creating conditions for decent work and prosperity for people everywhere.
If anything, Ryder said current uncertainties and insecurities underscore how vital decent work is to the advancement of human well-being. But, he added, the methods of achieving this goal have to change.
"It is, to say the least, improbable, as the world of work is transformed by the combined impact of technological innovation, demographic shifts, climate change, and globalization, improbable, that our organization would be best served by unreflecting business as usual," he said.
Ryder said what worked well yesterday may not work well tomorrow, and the ILO will have to adapt to the changes, not turn away from them.
During the past 100 years, the ILO set numerous standards that improved labor conditions. Conventions that were adopted include issues dealing with collective bargaining, the elimination of the worst forms of child labor, and discrimination in the work place.
Ryder said the ILO is tackling the problem of violence and harassment at work. He said adopting new standards to stop this abuse from occurring would be a victory in the struggle to uphold basic standards of decency in the workplace.