These are unsettling times, to say the least, with dramatic change in the air. The shape and substance of economic globalization, including the development of Environmental/Social/Governance (ESG), within our global economic system, is a significant element to the unfolding transformation. On the Social (S) front, we are witnessing a concerted effort, within the global community, to make real progress towards achieving the goals set out in the ILO Declaration on Principles and Rights at Work (the ILO Fundamental Declaration from 1998) ILO Fundamental Declaration: (1) no child labour; (2) no forced labour; (3) no discrimination in employment or occupation; and (4) freedom of association and the right of collective bargaining.
At the same time, the global community is moving towards including occupational health and safety as a fundamental principle and right at work alongside the previously named four core standards.
The ILO will be discussing the addition of occupational health and safety to the ILO’s Fundamental Declaration at its upcoming June 2022 International Labour Conference (ILC) where representatives of governments, workers and business gather each year to discuss issues pertaining to the workplace and the world of work.
If the proposed resolution to elevate occupational health and safety is adopted at the ILC in two months’ time, it would commit all 187 Member States to respect and promote healthy and safe working conditions regardless of whether the Member State has ratified the underlying relevant Conventions.
If occupational health and safety is enshrined in the ILO’s Fundamental Declaration, it will underscore two unfolding developments related to the world of work.
First, the results will advance the global drive to infuse our global economic system with greater human-centred content – in search of a finer balance between economic development and social progress – consistent with the ILO Centenary Declaration from 2019 ILO Centenary Declaration.
Second, occupational health and safety, buttressed by its new found international stature, would assume greater prominence within the jurisdiction of each ILO Member State. This development would, in all likelihood, have legal, regulatory and practical consequences at the domestic level.