Director-General of the International Labor Organization (ILO) Guy Ryder speaks during the 108th ILO International Labor Conference at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, June 10, 2019.
Director-General of the International Labor Organization (ILO) Guy Ryder speaks during the 108th ILO International Labor Conference at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, June 10, 2019.

GENEVA - More than 5,000 delegates and 45 heads of state are attending this year’s International Labor Conference.

The 11-day event being held in Geneva marks the group's 100th anniversary.

ILO Director-General Guy Ryder notes the world of work has undergone profound, transformational changes during the past century, but says the core values of the organization remain the same.  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 says the current uncertainties and insecurities underscore how vital decent work is to the advancement of human well-being.  But he adds, 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 says what worked well yesterday may not work well tomorrow.  He says the ILO will have to adapt to the changes, not turn away from them.  

During the past 100 years, the ILO has set numerous standards that have improved labor conditions.  Conventions that have been adopted include issues dealing with collective bargaining, the elimination of the worst forms of child labor and discrimination in the work place.

Ryder says the ILO is tackling the problem of violence and harassment at work.  He says 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.