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Irish Delegation attending Centenary International Labour Conference in Geneva

The Centenary International Labour Conference (ILC) is underway in Geneva from now until 21st June. To mark the occasion of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Centenary year the conference will include five days of high level visits from several heads of state, including President of France Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, President of South Africa, Cyril Ramphosa, and the Swedish Prime Minster Stefan Lofven. Minister of State for Trade, Employment, Business, EU Digital Single Market and Data Protection Pat Breen TD will attend the Conference on Wednesday, 12th June and deliver an address to the Plenary.  

The ILO, one of the UN’s oldest agencies, was founded in 1919 and brings together governments, employer and worker representatives of 187 countries to develop international Labour Standards and policies to promote decent work and social justice. Many of the employment rights which we currently benefit from; such as minimum working age, maternity leave, maximum weekly working hours and annual leave, are the result of negotiations over the past 100 years by the constituents of the ILO.

Ireland became a member of the ILO in 1923, this was the first international organisation which the new State joined. Ireland’s links with the ILO can be traced back to Edward Phelan, a Waterford born civil servant who became the ILO’s first official.

In June 2017 Ireland was elected to a Titulaire (speaking and voting) seat for the first time since we joined the ILO in 1923. The seat will be held for three years and will coincide with an ambitious and active period in the ILO as it celebrates it.

In line with the unique tripartite nature of the ILO, Ireland will be represented by a delegation from the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation (DBEI) together with representatives of ICTU and IBEC.

At the Centenary Conference, Ireland will be playing a high profile role on all of the ILO committees:

  • Ireland will chair the Committee on the Application of Standards which examines cases of countries alleged to have infringed ILO standards.
  • On the Conference Committee which is preparing a Centenary Declaration, Ireland will negotiate for the EU.  
  • And finally, in the standard setting Committee on Violence and Harassment, which is negotiating a convention on combatting violence and harassment in the workplace, Ireland is playing an active and high profile role in the EU group. The convention being negotiated will be the first ever international instrument on this important topic.

In September 2019, the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation in collaboration with the National University of Ireland will hold a national event to commemorate the ILO centenary. The event will highlight the significant role Ireland has played in the ILO over the past hundred years. Details of the conference will be released in the coming weeks.