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Labour Minister Oliphant heads for ILO

by lloyd last modified 2012-06-08 14:28

8 June 2012

Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant is to lead a high-powered delegation at the weekend on a week-long visit to attend the 101st Session of the International Labour Conference of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) at Geneva.

This year’s conference is held under the theme: “Building a future with decent work”.

The official South African tripartite delegation that will be led by Oliphant will include: government, business and organised labour representatives. It will also include members of Parliament who serve in labour-related committees.

Just like South African government that had prioritised addressing unemployment, especially that of youth as demonstrated by the Department of Labour’s (DoL) this week’s launch of the Job Fair in the Eastern Cape, the Governing Body of the ILO has also placed an item on “the youth employment crisis” on the agenda.

The 101st Session has placed the matter due to its global significance and a renewed sense of alarm at the unprecedented proportion that the youth employment crisis has acquired.

“The global economic and financial crisis has exacerbated this situation and the current global outlook for growth is gloomy. The risk remains that youth labour markets will be further adversely affected,” the ILO said.

Meanwhile, Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant has welcomed the appointment of the new ILO Director-General (DG), Guy Ryder. He becomes the 10th DG of the ILO.

Oliphant was confident the new DG will propel the decent work agenda to a high level.     

Coming from the United Kingdom, Ryder is currently the ILO’s Executive Director for International Labour Standards and Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work. He was elected by secret ballot by the ILO’s Governing Body. He will begin his five-year term in October 2012.

“I am really excited about this chance: this is a tremendous opportunity, in the middle of this global crisis, to make a difference to the lives of millions of people, including those who've never heard of the ILO, to change their lives for the better”, said the Director-General elect.

Speaking at the public sitting following the election, the current Director-General Juan Somavia said: "My presence here is to symbolize the full and unconditional support of the Office to ensure a smooth and helpful transition until October”.

Guy Ryder received 30 of the 56 votes cast by the titular members of the ILO’s Governing Body. The vote was conducted at the ILO’s headquarters in Geneva. There were eight other candidates vying for the position.

Ryder replaces Chilean, Somavia who announced last year that he was to depart at the end of September 2012, eighteen months before the end of his third mandate.

Born in Liverpool (UK) in 1956, he was educated at the Universities of Cambridge and Liverpool. He began his career at the International Department of the Trade Union Congress in London. In 1985, he moved to Geneva, to take up the position of Secretary of the Industry Trade Section of the International Federation of Commercial, Clerical, Professional and Technical Employees (FIET). In 1988, Ryder became Assistant Director and - from 1993 - Director of the Geneva Office of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions.

He joined ILO in 1998 as Director of the Bureau for Workers’ Activities, until 1999, when he became Director of the Office of the ILO Director-General. In February 2002, Ryder left ILO, taking up the post of General Secretary of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) and - from November 2006 – he took up another post, this time as General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC).

Ryder returned to the ILO as Executive Director responsible for International Labour Standards and Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, overseeing key work in the supervision of the Application of ILO Conventions and Recommendations. He led several High Level Missions to address a range of standards-related questions in various countries.

Issued by Department of Labour.

Musa Zondi

MLO: Minister of Labour

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