ILO Needs IFBMA Input

By Joe Hendry

The International Labour Organization (ILO) is a United Nations agency that has received a lot of attention for their conference discussions on child labour around the world. For the past two years at the International Labour Conference in Geneva, (85th and 86th sessions) the ILO has also had committee discussions on “Contract Labour.” The conference is made up of government delegates, employer delegates and worker delegates from around the world.

Due to resistance from the employers’ representatives the ILO has been unable to agree on the wording and the extent of resolutions and conventions on contract labour but they have agreed in principal that international “instruments” are necessary to ensure that all workers receive protection under employment standards.

One area that all delegates agreed upon was related to the need to combat the use of disguised employment as a means of avoiding legal obligations. “Disguised employment” is a synonym for “messenger industry.” It relates to employers classifying workers as self-employed or independent contractors, in order to avoid employment standards and obligations. It is notable that even employer delegates agreed that action on disguised employment was necessary.

The Committee also suggested that “expert meetings should be held to examine situations in which workers are in need of protection and the appropriate means and methods of providing protection where it is deemed necessary.” Currently the International Federation of Bike Messenger Associations (IFBMA) is seeking to have some input to this process, as participants in these “expert meetings.” The International Labour Conference needs an industry to hold up to the media and governments as an example of the why international resolutions are urgently needed.

The ILO has pledged to complete the expert meetings within 2 years and put the topic of Contract Labour on the agenda for the 2002 conference.

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