PANAMA CITY (ILO News):--- ILO Director-General Guy Ryder opened the 19th American Regional Meeting of the International Labour Organization (ILO) with a call for genuine social dialogue as a means of building a future with social justice and decent work for all.
"We cannot expect the changes we want in terms of labour relations to happen on their own. The pursuit of social justice through genuine dialogue and without preconditions is essential. However, social dialogue has often been diminished," Ryder said.
Ryder pointed out that inequality was one of the greatest challenges in the region, where the unemployment rate rose from 6.1 per cent in 2014 to 8.8 per cent in the first half of 2018, and where informality affects nearly 140 million workers.
"Our societies are becoming increasingly unequal, and they are seen as increasingly unfair, moving away from the ideals of social justice that the ILO created in order to progress. We see millions of people around the world who feel they have not benefited from globalization, who have not benefited from the way things are organized nowadays," said Ryder.
Representatives of governments, workers and employers from more than 35 countries in the Americas are participating in the 19th American Regional Meeting. The meeting takes place a few months before the ILO celebrates its centenary, where the future of work is the central theme.
According to Ryder, the discussion on the future of work must be encompassing and should take place in an environment that protects the rights of workers and employers, and stimulates the development of sustainable enterprises.
"In this region, there are many challenges so we are at a crossroads where issues of the past, present and future of work come together," said the Director-General, and he added that while technology is at the heart of that change, it alone will not determine the future.
"We must not fall into the trap of technological determinism. We, governments, workers and employers, are the ones who must shape the future of work we want, or as a worker in Panama told me yesterday, the future of work is the work of the future," he said.
Ryder also referred to other challenges in the region that will be discussed over the next three days, including migration flows, youth employment, gender equality, the situation of indigenous peoples, and climate change, which particularly affects the Caribbean island states.
The regional meetings of the ILO are held every four years and they are the ideal place for analysing the evolution of labour markets, employment policies applied in different countries, social dialogue and the application of international labour standards, among other topics.