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International Labour Conference: UK statement

This UK statement was delivered at the 106th session of the International Labour Conference in Geneva on 15 June 2017.

The International Labour Conference takes place at the Palais des Nations in Geneva
The International Labour Conference takes place at the Palais des Nations in Geneva

The UK Government would like to thank the Committee for Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work for the successful conclusion and adoption of this resolution. We thank the committee members – workers, employers and governments, as well as the Secretariat - for all of their hard work in reaching this agreement.

The ILO’s Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work are – as their title suggests – fundamental rights for all. The resolution adopted today reconfirms global support for these fundamental principles: freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining, the elimination of forced or compulsory labour, the abolition of child labour and the elimination of discrimination in respect of employment and occupation. These principles should underpin sustainable development and the achievement of Agenda 2030 targets – leaving no one behind. The UK is pleased to see, in particular, that the resolution encourages Member States to ratify and implement all of the fundamental conventions and the 2014 Protocol to the Forced Labour Convention; the universal ratification of which will be important for the achievement of SDG 8.7 - that is, the fight against modern slavery.

The UK is proud to be one of the first countries to ratify the Forced Labour Protocol. We are implementing it through a number of legislative instruments, including the UK’s Modern Slavery Act of 2015 and the Immigration Act of 2016. We have recently created and appointed a new Director of Labour Market Enforcement to bring strategic focus and coordination to our labour market enforcement legislation. We have also reformed the Gangmasters Licensing Authority, and in doing so renamed it the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority. Its new mission is to prevent, detect and investigate worker exploitation across the entire economy, and we have given it new police style powers to deal with serious cases of labour market abuse. And we welcome the collaboration between the ILO and the Authority.

We strongly support the ILO in its efforts to encourage other Member States to ratify and implement the Protocol and have been actively campaigning on behalf of the ILO’s 50 for Freedom Campaign.

We also support the multi-stakeholder partnership, Alliance 8.7, which aims to bring UN agencies, international organisations, governments, worker and employers organisations, businesses and NGOs together to help achieve the targets set in SDG 8.7 to eradicate modern slavery, forced labour, human trafficking and child labour. It is important that we address the problem within our own countries, as well as working together to develop effective strategies for eradicating this abhorrent crime. We must work to make this a priority at the international level to drive action. The resolution on Fundamental Principles and Rights at work adopted today at the ILO supports this aim.

It is our sincere hope that the IV Global Conference on Child Labour hosted by Argentina in November 2017 will galvanise Members States and others to further step up their efforts in meeting SDG 8.7.

Published 15 June 2017