ADDRESS TO THE 104TH INTERNATIONAL LABOUR CONFERENCE
I wish every success to the Conference under your able guidance.
We are approaching 2019, which we consider as a landmark in ILO’s history. I thank the Director General for launching the “centenary initiative” and for his inspiring report. We welcome the idea that all segments of the society are engaged in this process through “centenary conversations”.
We hope that this process will serve as a roadmap and we firmly support the adoption of a “Centenary Declaration”.
Although the problems and challenges we face vary according to national circumstances, there are some commonalities among them as well.
In this regard, going beyond ILO’s tripartite constituents and including other actors such as research institutions and civil society organizations is the best way to find innovative solutions to such global problems.
While doing so, we should also take into account the post-2015 development agenda and the G20 process.
Turkey’s G20 priorities are very much related with the world of work. They are summarized as three “I”s namely investment, inclusiveness and implementation. We will also focus on improving conditions in low-income developing countries.
The G20 Employment Working Group has been focusing onissues such as policy coherence between employment and growth, promoting safer workplaces, labour mobility and inequalities.
I am sure that the outcomes of the G20 process will definitely feed into ILO’s “centenary conversations”.
Due to two Level 3 humanitarian crises next to our southern borders, Turkey now hosts about 2 million Syrian and Iraqi people.
The amount that has been spent by Turkey for hosting them has reached 6 billion USD so far.
The dimensions of this noble humanitarian duty are beyond any single country to overcome. There is a clear need for international solidarity. Nevertheless, we are highly concerned with the hesitation of the international community to step up aid to restore the dignity of these innocent people.
I would also like to draw attention to the ongoing sufferings of the Palestinians that have been once again stressed by the Director-General.
We note with regret that the Israeli military operations last year caused an immense loss of lives. They led to further economic and labour market decline with serious consequences for the Palestinian economy. It is highlighted in the DG’s report that this decline is due to violence and occupation.
Despite the crises in its region and the global economic crisis in general, Turkish economy has been growing consecutively for the last 21 quarters.
We managed to translate this economic growth into opportunity by creating new jobs through employment-oriented growth policies. During the last five years, 5.3 million new jobs were created.
Moreover, we paid particular attention to OSH which is beyond any other material consideration.
In this regard, the Law on Occupational Safety and Health, which was prepared in line with ILO norms and EU standards, was enacted in 2012.
Turkey had already ratified Conventions 155, 161 and 187 and further to these, Conventions 167 and 176 were ratified very recently. By doing so, I am proud to announce that Turkey has ratified 59 ILO Conventions to date.
Although sincere and decisive steps have been taken by our Government in order to reduce work accidents and fatalities, we were surprised and disappointed by the decision to include Turkey in the short list in relation to the implementation of Convention 155.
At a time where deregulation is widespread on OSH in the world, we consider such ignorance about Turkey’s achievements as very discouraging for other countries envisaging to become party to ILO Conventions.
This also raises doubts on the reliability and impartiality of the ILO’s supervisory mechanism.
Nevertheless, this politically biased and unfortunate decision will not diminish our motivation and commitment.
We are well aware of the fact that our steps are for the benefit of our own people and will result in positive social and economic outcomes. We will continue our efforts in effectively implementing legislation and disseminating a “safety culture” within our society.
The “centenary initiative” provides the constituents of the ILO a unique opportunity to design an international organization fit for purpose.
We believe that ILO has the necessary experience and expertise stemming from its century long history. Now, it is high time to equip it with necessary tools to adapt to the conditions of the new world of work. Turkey is ready to take its part in this process, and we appeal to all members to join forces with us.
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