International Labour Conference: teachers’ concerns highlighted

Education International brings the voice of teachers and education personnel to the 107th session of the International Labour Conference.

The Education International (EI) delegation is composed of education union leaders from 19 countries (Argentina, Benin, Botswana, Canada-Quebec, Central African Republic, Costa Rica, Ethiopia, France, Gabon, Ghana, Honduras, Japan, Malawi, Morocco, Mexico, Senegal, Somalia, South Korea and Zimbabwe). Held every year in June in Geneva, Switzerland, the International Labour Conference (ILC) gathers together representatives of 182 governments and of workers’ and employers’ national organisations, from 28 May-8 June. The Conference of the International Labour Organisation is the only UN agency with a tripartite constituency. It is also the oldest such agency, having been founded in 1919.

Respect of labour standards

The ILC is the global labour parliament where labour policy priorities are discussed, new standards are adopted and their implementation is supervised.

This year, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Committee on the Application of Standards will review the implementation of labour standards and cases of trade union rights violations in several countries, among others, Algeria, Bahrain, Botswana, Brazil, Cambodia, Georgia, Honduras, Japan, and Mexico. The legislation and practices on a total of twenty-four countries will be reviewed.

The EI delegation will ensure that a spotlight is shined on the rights situation in the education sector, especially where teachers are deprived of trade union rights, including mechanisms for collective bargaining. From that point of view, the fact that South Korea and Turkey were not selected for discussion is a concern. In Turkey, over 130,000 workers have been dismissed after the failed coup in July 2016, and among them, 28,000 teachers and academics. Between September 2016 and August 2017, 1,620 teachers, members of the EI affiliate Eğitim Sen, have been dismissed, including 48 members of the teacher union Committee. In South Korea, the education union KTU has still not been relegalized despite recommendations from the ILO and commitments from the Government.

Concerns

Rights violations in the education sector will be highlighted for the following countries:

·         In Botswana, the Parliament is seeking to convert the teaching sector into an essential service.

·         The Bahraini Teachers’ Association has yet to be re-established after it was dissolved in 2011. Its leaders, Mahdi Abu Dheeb and Jalila Al-Salman, are still subject to a travel ban, preventing them from attending international union meetings.

·         In Honduras, over 300 unionised teachers have been unjustly dismissed and education unions report cases of anti-union killings. This is occurring in a context where half a million children are not in school and 70% of the schools are not fit for teaching.

·         In Japan, there is not proper bargaining about status and working conditions. The Japan Teacher Union, the EI member organisation,  deplores the fact that there is overwork and burnout by teachers and academics. The situation is not being addressed through social dialogue.

Work in other committees will focus on:

  • a new standard on violence and harassment in the world of work.
  • a recurrent discussion on social dialogue and tripartism as mechanisms to improve equity and social justice.
  • development cooperation efforts by the ILO to support the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

The discussions at the ILO conference will inform the ILO Global Commission on the World of Work, which will present its conclusions in 2019 for the ILO centenary.

An EI representative will address the ILO conference on 4 June.

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