Regional conference on Labour Inspection in NIS

The ILO-ACTRAV, in cooperation with the Pan-European Regional Council of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC-PERC) organized a regional conference for the ITUC-PERC affiliates in the Newly Independent States (NIS) on 26-27 September in Tbilisi. The participants discussed challenges of effective functioning of the labour inspections to supervise implementation of labour and occupational health and safety standards. Taking part were trade union leaders, technical specialists and trade union labour inspectors from Eastern Europe, South Caucasus and Central Asia.

The ITUC/PERC President Irakli Petriashvili opened the conference. The Georgian Deputy Labour Minister, the President of the country’s Employers’ Association, head of the Parliament’s Human Rights Committee and Georgia’s newly created Labour Inspection Department have also delivered welcoming speeches. The ILO workers’ specialist in the region, senior specialists in the area of international labour norms, labour administration and OSH standards, as well as the PERC executive Secretary, trade union experts from EU member and candidate countries have provided update on the situation in the region, shared their views and positive examples of well-functioning labour administrations with effective tripartite coordination in different countries.

The participants underlined deterioration of the position of the labour inspectorates in most of the countries, driven by labour market deregulation and economic liberalization policies promoted by the International Financial Institutions. These reforms resulted in dilution of labour inspection mandate, negligence of OSH norms and basic labour rights, imposition of moratoriums and limitations to implement unannounced checks, decentralisation or hypercentralisation, insufficient financing and low professional capacities within the inspectorates and reduced trust in public administration.

The meeting underlined following conclusions:

  •    Domination of narrow minded liberal ideology of reduction of costs and deregularisation of business led to systematic labour rights violations and high risks to health and safety of workers;
  •    Decent working conditions and strong compliance with ILS support productivity increase and facilitate sustainable development of an enterprise and the economy in general;
  •    The universal role of international labour norms cannot be disputed. The countries must ratify relevant OSH and labour inspections conventions and ensure their application in national legislation and practices;
  •    The necessity to bring national legislation in full compliance with the provisions of the ILO Convention 81 the corresponding protocol of 1995 and other relevant conventions, protocols and recommendations, to prioritise occupational and health norms, to stop practicing any types of moratoriums and limitations to inspections;
  •    The need of functional independent labour inspection is an imperative, with due coordination on central level and capillary outreach in regions, mandate and ability to run assessments of working places, including those in creation, to control safety tools and mechanisms, to apply advice and sanctions to employers, to outreach to workers, collect and process data and publish reliable statistics, that has due resources – including human, professional and material – to do so;
  •    The importance of civil servant status for labour inspectors that would protect from political pressures;
  •    The imperative of tripartite coordination and crucial role of the ILO technical assistance in building efficient labour administrations and inspections.
  •    Genuine social dialogue and management-union cooperation is key to secure safe and healthy environment on the workplaces.
  •    Labour inspection has important role to facilitate transition from the informal to formal economy to enable workers to exercise their labour rights, contribute to and benefit from social protection system.

The participants agreed that empowerment of the labour inspections should be high on trade union agenda in the Eastern part of Europe and Central Asia and that based on the conclusions of the conference a strategy and the action plan shall be initiated which would include a joint regional campaign under the PERC umbrella.