ILO must lead in seeking social justice: head
The International Labour Organisation must take the lead in calling for greater social justice and fundamental changes to the world's current growth model, the head of the UN labour agency said Wednesday.
"From Tahrir Place to Puerta del Sol, in streets and plazas in many countries, we are witnessing the birth of a social and popular movement led by youth that may change the world," ILO director-general Juan Somavia told the 100th annual conference of the agency.
These young people are speaking for the "3.5 billion silent people" who earn the same combined as the 61 million richest people in the world, he told thousands of delegates meeting in Geneva until June 17.
They are "demanding that leaders in business, politics, civil society and international organizations agree on action and policies that 'give us a fair chance at a decent job'," Somavia said, referring to widespread popular unrest, especially in North Africa and the Middle East.
Their demands "should be at the heart of our action. This is the essence of what we need to find during this session," the ILO chief said.
In order to meet their demands, profound changes must be made to the current model of growth, which according to the ILO had demonstrated its inefficiency by increasing inequality and leading to record unemployment of over 200 million since 2009.
"Slipping back to business as usual will lead us sooner or later into a new crisis," said Somavia, as he called for "efficient growth on the economic and social plan."
The ILO's 100th annual conference is touted to be a historic session for the UN body, with political leaders including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin expected to attend.
© 2011 AFP