Speaker [00:00:08] Mr. President. Mr. President. Thank you very much for your kind words to. Myself and my country. Director General distinguished members of conference. I am pleased to be able to participate in your centenary session. An opportunity for all of our countries to reaffirm our commitment to the advancement of social justice and the promotion of decent work. As the International Labour Organization is the oldest institution in the UN system this is also an opportunity to recall our unwavering faith in multilateralism. The ILO was born out of the deep wounds of the First World War with the aim of fighting exploitation of workers in the industrialized nations of the time the founders of the ILO including Belgium affirmed the importance of social justice to guarantee peace and security. The preamble to the ILO's constitution recalls that universal and lasting peace. Can be established only if it is based upon social justice and also that whereas conditions of labour exist involving such injustice. Hardship and privation to large numbers of people as to produce unrest so great that the peace and harmony of the world are imperilled. The founding fathers of the ILO had realized that. An improvement of those conditions is urgently required. Belgium has been engaged actively and it's always been in a spirit of consensus in both preparation for and implementation of the organization's strategic objectives. Many Belgians have been heavily. Involved in this work with idealism and conviction. Exactly 75 years ago when Belgium introduced social dialogue and tripe autism. It was inspired by the values and conventions of the ILO. To date tripartite social dialogue has been central to the organization of work in my country. And we remain profoundly attached to this principle. In the field of promoting and implementing fundamental rights and principles my country has ratified 113 conventions and we will soon deposit the instruments of ratification to the 2014 protocol to the convention on forced labour.
Speaker [00:03:37] The protocol targets contemporary forms of forced labour such as human trafficking. And it marks a major step in the fight against forced labour worldwide. Access to and the creation of decent jobs remain at the heart of our employment policy as illustrated in the inter professional agreement for 2019 2020. Forming the basis for sectoral collective agreements which determine working conditions for 96 per cent of Belgian workers and employees. Here I would like to pay tribute to the sustained efforts throughout this secretary 7th century of existence and to the progress made worldwide thanks to the action of the ILO. The organization has managed to adapt to the many events which have marked the last hundred years. It has survived the abolition of the League of Nations. Second world war. The Cold War. The fall of communism and globalization. Thanks to its standard setting role it has been able to develop workers rights and improve working conditions for them as a result of its action. Child labour has been significantly reduced. Women have been able to access the labour market. Millions of workers have escaped poverty working. Time has been reduced and most countries have at least. A basic social security system. Progress has been uneven but it has been real. And this must remain a source of hope and encouragement for your action in the future. Today after the enormous progress made there are still very serious decent work deficits. Unfortunately so as early as 1919 it was recognized that the failure of any nation to adopt humane working conditions of labour was an obstacle to other nations wishing to improve the conditions of workers in their own countries. ILO has responded to economic interdependence through international social cooperation to harmonise working conditions. And 100 years later these considerations.
Speaker [00:06:39] Are still extremely relevant. The very reason that go for the ILO as a world labour parliament is even more justified in today's changing world. In the context of increased globalization and interdependence. Growing inequalities and the sense of insecurity they create discrimination against women. Migration. The resurgence of nationalist and identity based movements. As well as the crisis of multilateralism the technological revolution and global warming. All represent challenges which have to be met if we are to ensure a better future for mankind. These challenges are an opportunity for the ILO to gain new momentum to formulate new responses based on the tried and tested principles of solidarity. And economic democracy. In this regard. I welcome your initiative director general. To create the Global Commission on the future of work. In its report work. For a brighter future the commission recommends 10 human centred objectives to be pursued in national strategies and several rather more specific areas of action for the ILO. This organization has an important role to play in encouraging all of its member states to make a concrete commitment to greater social justice and to invest in people. Under the combined effect of technological change and the urgent need to preserve our environment. Working methods will have to undergo a profound change. The classic growth model has reached its limits and something radically new will have to replace it. Did his realisation will not only eliminate jobs but also create new ones. A recent study conducted in Belgium calculated that for every job lost due to digitalisation three point seven new jobs will be created. The very content of many existing jobs will change. The vast majority of workers will have to retrain. And a significant number of them will have to completely change professions.
Speaker [00:09:42] Here we see a major responsibility for authorities employers and trade unions. Employers must commit to providing opportunities to their employees to update their skills. Workers in declining trades must. Receive timely support to retrain. All of these transformations require. Considerable vigilance in our countries as well as great inventiveness on the part of the ILO social advantages achieved in the past will have to be secured against new economic interests. The inclusive tripartite model and social dialogue must be protected and boosted. They are both stabilizing factors and enormous assets for better managing transition. Ladies and gentlemen. Protection of human dignity is an absolute principle that must guide us through. The current and future turmoil and upheaval in the 21st century. It's in the light of this conviction that the Global Commission on the future of work has proposed the main areas of action namely investing in human potential and decent and sustainable work. To achieve these objectives we will need further profound changes in the advanced economies. Let alone in those that are now host to the world's almost 2 billion informal sector workers. Director general. Distinguished participants in conference. Full and productive employment and decent work for all are among the Sustainable Development Goals. The road to achieve this objective will be. A long and difficult one. The world of the 21st century with its radical transformations and new challenges. Really does need an experienced organization such as yours to ensure that human dignity is preserved. It is my hope that within the broader framework of the United Nations the ILO will continue to guide the development of social justice and that your efforts will help to create a better future for all workers men and women alike. I wish you every success in continuing your fine mission.
Speaker [00:12:47] I thank you.