[News & Chuo University News]
For work with a sense of fulfillment and humanity
~ Lecture by Ms. Karen Curtis of the International Labor Organization ~
Chuo University welcomed Ms. Karen Curtis, Deputy Director of the International Labour Standards Department at the International Labor Organization (ILO; headquarters in Geneva), who gave a lecture entitled "Recent successes and challenges for international labour standards." The lecture was made possible due to friendship formed between the ILO and our university through an ILO internship course held annually during summer vacation by the Chuo University Faculty of Law. The lecture lasted approximately 90 minutes and featured simultaneous interpretation from English to Japanese. During the Q&A session, many students asked questions in English. The lecture was held as part of our university's efforts to cultivate global professionals and it was a big success in that respect.
(October 26th, Tama Campus Classroom #8302, 2nd Chuo University Special Lecture Event to Commemorate the Founding of the Association for Global Initiatives)
20 years of surveillance in Burma/Myanmar
Lecture by Ms. Karen Curtis
Ms. Curtis introduced a case from Burma/Myanmar, a Maritime Labour Convention, a case from the Philippines, rights for domestic workers, and a case from the International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC).
First was the case Burma/Myanmar. Not only is forced labor conducted in Burma/Myanmar, freedom of association is not recognized. There is a fundamental link between these two aspects, since freedom of association would make it possible for groups to speak against the parties who use forced labor.
The ILO has positioned Burma/Myanmar as a key area. For 20 years, the organization has conducted patient surveillance and persuasive dialogue. Even today, the ILO is working to completely eliminate forced labor and to promote freedom of association.
Ms. Curtis introduced the following activities of the ILO: 1) establishment of an office to received complains regarding forced labor in Myanmar, 2) recommendations for constructing a legal framework which will solve disputes and promote the right to assemble, 3) establishment of a labor union, 4) realizing the reentry into Burma/Myanmar of labor union leaders who defected from the country, 5) conducting technical cooperation activities and holding ILO seminars, and 6) preparing reports focusing on the impact of overseas investment on decent work (fulfilling and humane work) in Burma/Myanmar.
Decrease in child labor
The next topic addressed by Ms. Curtis was domestic workers. Women, immigrants, children and other people in a weak position become domestic workers, who sometimes are forced into oppressive domestic work. In this case, workers have not entered into a written contract and their workplace is their home. The ILO seeks to protect the rights of domestic workers through dialogue that includes the government, labor groups, employer groups and groups of other related person (third-party plus dialogue).
Child labor continues to show a decreasing trend from 222 million in 2006 to 215 million in 2010. The number of children working between the ages of 5 and 14 has decreased by 10%. Also, the number of girls in child labor has decreased by 15%. However, the number of child laborers who have reached the legally stipulated age of 15 to 17 years old (depending on the country) has increased by 20%. Currently, child labor is decreasing in the Asia-Pacific region and Central/South America, but is increasing in sub-Saharan Africa.
In addition to conducting a variety of training, the ILO implements South-South cooperation which includes the exchange of information, experience and opinions. The ILO also engages in certain intermediate activities such as ensuring the income of parents, providing employment opportunities, supporting materials and tools which eliminate the need to rely on child labor, and expansion of opportunities for credit financing.
[Impression of the lecture]
I now have a clear understanding of ILO activities. If nations do not protect the rights of workers, corporations will enter overseas markets and spread oppressive labor. Within such conditions, I felt that the ILO transcends national borders and works to protect laborers. Furthermore, when considering labor issues, it is common to focus on the relationship between employers and workers. However, I now realize the deep connection with standards established by national governments and municipalities, as well as homeowners in the case of domestic workers.
(Student Reporter: Yoko Satake, 3rd-year student in the Faculty of Law)
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