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BRICS commitment to social dialogue excites ILO


ILO Director-General Guy Ryder

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) has lauded the Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) to promote social dialogue between governments and social partners.

Responding to the declarations of the economic group at the end of its meeting in Durban in South Africa, the ILO Director-General, Guy Ryder pledging to work with employer and workers’ organisations in order to respond to the challenges brought by the future of work and digitalization is a welcome development.

The BRICS declaration also calls for easier access to decent work for young women and men, faster progress towards gender equality at work, and the promotion of universal and sustainable social security systems.


The ILO Chief particularly highlighted the inherent value of social dialogue, particularly at times of deep and accelerated change in work.

Referring to the pressures and challenges faced by tripartite cooperation between governments and the social partners, Ryder said: “The best response, I believe, is to demonstrate the added value of social dialogue by making it work.”

Ryder also reminded participants of the urgent need to ensure decent and productive jobs for youth saying, “we know the immensity of the challenge, and we know that we need multi-pronged approaches balancing demand-side and supply-side interventions, and we know that skills formation must be at the heart of what we do.”

Referring to “inclusive growth and shared prosperity” as the theme of the BRICS meeting, he reminded participants of “the largely unfinished business of women’s participation and equal pay,” encouraging the South African Presidency and the BRICS countries to join the ILO-led Equal Pay International Coalition (EPIC), which promotes equal pay for work of equal value around the globe.

He added: “Millions of people previously unprotected now enjoy benefits which enhance their income security and access to health care.”

As to the obstacles preventing women from joining the labour market, Ryder identified unpaid care work as a major barrier: “Worldwide there is a very marked ‘motherhood employment penalty’ for women with young children. Just looking at the BRICS countries, 42 per cent of those women work, while for fathers the figure is 88 per cent. Moreover, the ILO estimates that a high road to a professional care economy has the potential to generate no less than 159 million new jobs in your countries.”

He also commended the significant improvements in social protection systems made in recent years by BRICS countries.

“Millions of people previously unprotected now enjoy benefits which enhance their income security and access to health care. This progress was also reflected in ratifications of the relevant ILO Conventions in BRICS countries”, he said.

Ryder referred to the Framework on Social Security and the BRICS Network of Labour Research Institutes as important instruments to tackle key challenges in the world of work.

He therefore welcomed a Memorandum of Understanding on Social Security Cooperation, to be signed in Durban, as well as the strengthening of the partnership of the ILO’s International Training Centre with the BRICS Network.

The Director-General highlighted the forthcoming report of the Global Commission on the Future of Work, as BRICS Labour and Employment Ministers plan the future of their own work.

The Global Commission, co-chaired by President Ramaphosa of South Africa and Prime Minister Löfven of Sweden, will publish its report for the ILO centenary in January 2019.

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