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RUSSIA: Speech by Mikhail Shmakov, FNPR President and Workers’ Delegate, at the 111th Session of the ILC

Editor’s Note: This is the full speech delivers on June 13, 2023, at the Inernational Labor Conference

Distinguished President, Ladies and Gentlemen, Colleagues,

Today, we become witnesses to the birth of a new system of international relations, and to the collapse of a unipolar world. For a long time we will all have to live in a different paradigm.

This new multipolar world requires that the ILO plays a special role, most importantly by preserving the values of the Organisation. To do so, the ILO must dissociate itself from the views imposed upon it by certain countries and see to it that in each of the areas of growing multipolarity there be respect for its value system and conventions, first and foremost the fundamental ones, such as C87 and C98.

Over many decades the Organisation has convincingly demonstrated its ability to effectively defend the interests of workers and to promote the strengthening of the system of tripartite relations. Today we must ensure that tripartism develops in each of the newly emerging poles of our world.

It is necessary to rise above the political and economic fray, when illegal sanctions, imposed against sovereign states to suit the leaders of certain countries and transnational corporations, pose a threat of fragmentation of the world economy, undermine the prospects for a more equitable multipolarity and plunge millions of people into poverty. Humanity has already paid too high a price for the bloc mentality stereotypes of the past.

The development, ratification and application of the ILO conventions as an integral part of the entire UN system of normative acts will enable to strengthen the rule of law in a world riven by conflicts. We share the main idea of the Director General’s report that to attain social justice it is vital to revive social contract. Globally, it is intended to take the form of a Global Coalition for Social Justice. The Federation of independent trade unions of Russia is ready to facilitate in every possible way the creation and work of such coalition.

We have fought for decades to ensure that the ILO values and principles become a guide for action for the entire global community. The specific proposals in the report create an excellent basis for decisive steps in this direction.

As is noted in the report, striving for social justice goes beyond the world of work. In countries in which inequality and exploitation are growing, in which decent work is scarce and there is mistrust in elites on the part of citizens, social justice is an indispensable condition for peace and stability.

The creation of the Coalition paves the way for the possibilities to integrate tripartism and social dialogue into multilateral cooperation globally, including in the BRICS format. Social dialogue is intended to become a binding global mechanism comprising collective agreements at all levels, specifically in global supply chains, in digital production, in the platform economy and in conditions of remote work.

Ensuring universal labour protection in the world of work through establishing adequate salary levels, the improvement of working conditions and the achievement of productive, freely chosen employment must become the decisive contribution in the success of the Coalition. Ensuring the observance of labour rights as one of the inalienable human rights is an indispensable condition for implementing the ILO’s Decent Work Programme and the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

In order to do so, the world must demonstrate greater solidarity and come to the aid of the developing and poorest countries which are barely coping with all the new crises — from climate disasters to socio-economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. We trust that the creation of the Global Coalition for Social Justice will reach its goals and yield real results: this will truly be our new social contract.

In conclusion, I’d like once again to emphasize that if the ILO does not rise above the current conjunctural political, economic and even military conflicts, and embody the values enshrined in its Constitution, then the Organisation may have no future and the ILO’s centennial history may come to an end. 

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