Delegation of the European Union to the
UN and other international organisations in Geneva

ILO Governing Body 337th session - LILS/1: Report of the fifth meeting of the Standards Review Mechanism Tripartite Working Group (Geneva, 23-27 September 2019)

Geneva, 01/11/2019 - 18:00, UNIQUE ID: 191105_4
Statements on behalf of the EU

ILO Governing Body 337th session, Geneva, 28 October – 7 November 2019

Thank you, Chair.

I am speaking on behalf of the European Union and its Member States.

The Candidate Countries Montenegro[1]and Albania*, the country of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidate Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the EFTA countries Norway, members of the European Economic Area, align themselves with this statement.

We support the Governments’ Group statement and the IMEC statement.

We welcome the outcome of the fifth meeting of the Standards Review Mechanism Tripartite Working Group (SRM TWG). We consider the work of this group to be a matter of institutional priority, especially as a part of the ILO Standards Initiative. It will continue to contribute to the ILO having a clear, robust and up-to date body of international labour standards that responds to the changing patterns of the world of work for the purpose of the protection of workers and taking into account the needs of sustainable enterprises.

The SRM-TWG had rich and wide-ranging discussions about the form of new standards in relation to the gaps that have been identified, the revision and amendment of existing standards, the process of standard-setting, and the promotion of ratification and implementation.

It further held important discussions on the necessity of providing technical support to member States that requested it, of integrating support for the social partners in activities, and of continuing the momentum and building on synergies so as to show results in coming years.

The tripartite working group made recommendations on the classification of the 8 ILO instruments regarding employment. We support these recommendations and request the Office to take the necessary follow-up action required.

Chair, during the tripartite working group meeting further agreement was reached on recommendations that propose the way forward regarding the follow-up to the SRM TWG’s work, taking into particular consideration the impact of the SRM TWG’s recommendations on the Office and on the Conference Agenda. 

This is reflected in the decision point to have the Office prepare proposals for standard-setting items on biological hazards, ergonomics and manual handling, chemical hazards and guarding of machinery, for inclusion in future agendas of the International Labour Conference at the earliest dates possible, for consideration at its 338th Session (March 2020). The EU would like to express the interest to start the standard-setting discussion with the chemical hazards, as this would be in line with the current actions within the Office.

The EU and its Member States would especially like to stress the importance of the following aspects:

  • Firstly, the “thematic integration approach” should be implemented as put forward by the Office, combining both binding and non-binding elements in the same instrument, and using appropriate and innovative approaches, so that instruments and their technical annexes can be easily updated to ensure their relevance in a changing wold of work;
  • Secondly, the process of standard-setting should be flexible, address the four specific topics, ensure optimum time efficiency and cost effectiveness and be inclusive;
  • Thirdly, inclusive preparatory tripartite technical activities should be customised to support efficient tripartite standard-setting discussion;
  • Lastly, this should include deciding to have a standard-setting item on the Conference agenda dedicated to the SRM TWG follow-up, not discarding the possibility of two standard-setting items in a given Conference.

Moreover, we consider that the pragmatic approach for working out proposals for the 4 OSH standard-setting items with innovative legal instruments and procedures could later be used for other themes within the SRM working group and for future standard setting in general.

We recognise the importance of active steps towards ratification of instruments and the particular need for solid and well-resourced campaigns to ensure member States are encouraged to replace ratifications of outdated Conventions with ratifications of related up-to-date Conventions. Abrogation of Conventions in force in member States could lead to a gap in legal protection in those member States. However, duplication of standards, which leads to excessive reporting burdens, should be avoided. National circumstances should always be taken into account.

The European Union and its Member States are fully committed to the modernisation process of the SRM Working Group, which we consider as reinforcing a core function of the ILO. The outcomes of the Standard Review Mechanism need to be fully integrated into the activities of the Office and in line with other ILO activities, including when setting the agenda of the ILC, as a matter of institutional priority and therefore ensuring allocation of necessary resources for the effective implementation of SRM recommendations.

We therefore support the decision points.

Thank you, Chair.


[1] Montenegro and Albania continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.

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