The Department of Labor's Bureau of International Labor Affairs plays the lead U.S. government role in representing the United States at the International Labor Organization (ILO). The United States is represented at meetings of the ILO Governing Body and the annual International Labor Conference by government officials and representatives of the U.S. labor and business communities. The Secretary of Labor chairs the tripartite President's Committee on the International Labor Organization (PC/ILO), which was set up to consider all matters relating to United States participation in the ILO.
Through its work to foster employment creation, promote fundamental principles and rights at work and improve working conditions and incomes around the world, the ILO helps ensure that workers everywhere enjoy the benefits of globalization. The ILO's tripartite structure is unique among UN specialized agencies, allowing employers and workers to have an equal voice with governments.
June 5 - 21, 2013: 102nd Session of the International Labor Conference – Geneva, Switzerland
The Committee on the Application of Standards will consider important country cases related to the application of ratified conventions, and the Finance Committee of Government Representatives will consider and adopt the program and budget of the ILO for 2014-15. In addition, the conference will include:
- a general discussion on Employment and Social Protection in the New Demographic Context;
- a general discussion on Sustainable Development, Decent Work and Green Jobs; and
- a recurrent discussion on the ILO Strategic Objective of Social Dialogue Under the Follow-up to the 2008 ILO Declaration on Social Justice for a Fair Globalization.
March 7 - 28, 2013: 317th Session of the ILO Governing Body – Geneva, Switzerland
At this session, the Governing Body:
- Considered a draft program and budget for the ILO for 2014-15, and recommended to the June 2013 ILC for adoption a provisional budget of $864,006,872 (an increase of approximately 0.3 percent over the 2012-13 program and budget).
- Deferred until its October 2013 session a decision on the appointment of a Commission of Inquiry into freedom of association in Guatemala. (See decision)
- Deferred until its October 2013 session consideration of an article 26 complaint against Bahrain regarding its application of Convention 111 (Discrimination, Employment and Occupation). (See decision | Read U.S. statement – PDF)
- Expressed its strong disappointment at the failure of the Government of Fiji to respond to the Director-General’s letter of 21 December 2012, urging the Government to be cooperative with the ILO and its procedures in the future and to accept the ILO direct contacts mission as set out in the resolution adopted by the Governing Body in 2012 so that it may take place prior to the June 2013 International Labor Conference. It decided to include this item on the agenda of the 318th Session of the Governing Body in June 2013. (See decision | Read U.S. statement – PDF)
- Placed an item on the agenda of the 102nd Session (2013) of the International Labor Conference enabling a further review of remaining measures previously adopted by the Conference under article 33 of the ILO Constitution to secure compliance by Burma with the recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry on forced labor. (See decision | Read U.S. statement – PDF)
November 1 - 16, 2012: 316th Session of the ILO Governing Body – Geneva, Switzerland
New ILO Director-General Guy Ryder, who began his term of office in October 2012, made his Declaration of Loyalty before the Governing Body. In addition, at this session, the Governing Body:
- Decided by consensus to withdraw the Article 26 complaint against the Government of Burma regarding its application of ILO Convention 87 (freedom of association). (See decision)
- Endorsed the International Labor Office's proposed interim framework for technical cooperation activities in Burma for the period November 2012 to April 2014 and called on Member States and international organizations to provide voluntary contributions to support it. (See decision | Read U.S. statement – DOC)
- Decided to place on the agenda of its March 2013 session for possible further action the Article 26 complaint concerning non-observance by Guatemala of the Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise Convention, 1948 (No. 87). (See decision)
- Deferred until its March 2013 session a decision on the article 26 complaint against Bahrain regarding its application of Convention 111 (Discrimination, Employment and Occupation). (See decision)
- Adopted a resolution on the trade union situation in Fiji that among other things instructed the Director-General to take actions aimed at promoting freedom of association and safeguarding the human and labor rights of Fijian workers, and report to the Governing Body at its March 2013 session on action taken and related developments.
May 30 - June 15, 2012: The 101st Session of the International Labor Conference – Geneva, Switzerland
The 101st session of the ILC included committees on social protection floors, fundamental principles and rights at work and youth employment, as well as the standing Committee on the Application of Standards. In addition, the Conference conducted a review of measures previously adopted to secure compliance by Burma with the recommendations of the 1998 ILO Commission of Inquiry into forced labor in that country. Noteworthy outcomes of this year’s ILC included the adoption of a new ILO Recommendation on National Floors of Social Protection and a decision to lift previously imposed restrictions on the full participation of Burma in ILO activities and to review the progress on the elimination of forced labor in the country next year. When the employers’ and workers’ groups in the Committee on the Application of Standards could not agree on a list of 25 individual country cases for review, the Committee was forced to conclude its work prematurely. Before adjourning, the Committee recommended that the Conference refer the issue that created the impasse to the ILO Governing Body, in hopes of finding a solution that will permit the Committee to resume its normal functioning in 2013.
May 28, 2012: Elections for the Position of ILO Director-General – Geneva, Switzerland
The Governing Body elected Guy Ryder to the position of Director-General of the ILO. Ryder previously served as the ILO Executive Director for International Labor Standards and Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work. Immediately prior to that, he served as General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC). Current ILO Director-General Juan Somavia was slated to step down at the end of September 2012 eighteen months before the end of his third term, with Mr. Ryder beginning his five-year term in October 2012.
- Learn more about the election and DG-elect Ryder
- Statement by Secretary Solis on election of Guy Ryder
March 15 - 31, 2012: 313th session of the ILO Governing Body and Candidate Interviews for the ILO Director-General position – Geneva, Switzerland
At this session, the Governing Body:
- Welcomed important and positive developments since its previous session with regard to the elimination of forced labor in Burma and decided to place on the agenda of the June Conference an additional item to review measures previously adopted by the International Labor Conference to secure Burma's compliance with the recommendations of previous high-level experts to eliminate forced labor. (See decision | Read U.S. statement).
- In light of positive developments with regard to freedom of association, decided to defer for a second time a decision on the establishment of a high-level, expert investigative commission to examine Burma's implementation of Convention No. 87, filed by Worker delegates to the 2010 ILO Conference. (See decision | Read U.S. statement)
- Suspended consideration of a complaint alleging violations of Convention No. 111 on employment discrimination, noting significant progress in Bahrain. (See decision)
- Conducted a two-day hearing session March 30-31 in which all nine candidates for the position of Director-General of the ILO participated. (Learn more about the hearings and election process)
November 3 - 18, 2011: 312th Session of the ILO Governing Body – Geneva, Switzerland
At this session, the Governing Body:
- Acknowledged some progress made by the Government of Burma toward ending forced labor, but called upon the Government to live up to its obligation to completely eliminate the practice and prosecute those responsible for using forced labor. The Governing Body also deferred a decision on the appointment of a Commission of Inquiry to deal with an Article 26 complaint against Burma regarding its application of Convention 87 (freedom of association) until March 2012. (See decision | Read U.S. statement on freedom of association | Read U.S. statement on forced labor)
- On the advice of its Officers, postponed consideration of complaint against Bahrain for non-observance of Convention 111 (employment discrimination) dealing with allegations of widespread dismissals following a series of peaceful demonstrations in the country. The Governing Body noted the Government's establishment of a tripartite committee to address the issue and offered the ILO's legal assistance to any party requesting help. The complaint, along with the possibility of establishing a Commission of Inquiry, was to be considered at the 313th session. (See decision | Read ILO Director-General's statement)
June 1 - 17, 2011: 100th Session of the International Labor Conference (ILC) – Geneva, Switzerland
The 100th Session of the ILC included committees on Decent Work for Domestic Workers, Social Protection (Social Security) and Labor Administration as well as the standing Committee on the Application of Standards. Expert discussions on a range of subjects also took place during the high-level segment. Noteworthy outcomes of this year's ILC were the adoption of a new ILO Convention on Decent Work for Domestic Workers and agreement in the social security committee that the 2012 ILC should develop a new ILO Recommendation on social protection floors.