NGO Consultation 2012
Building a Future with Decent Work : Youth Employment and Domestic Workers

For many years, the International Catholic Center of Geneva (CCIG) has shown great interest in the activities of the International Labor Organizations (ILO), especially the International labor Conference (ILC).

CCIG pursues this interest through organizing a series of Consultations for Catholic NGOs to be held in parallel with the ILC. These consultations aim to provide NGOs with a  space for dialogue and discussion concerning the issue of decent work.

As a follow up to previous consultations in 2010 and 2011, CCIG organized in collaboration with the German Commission for Justice and Peace/Kolping International, International Coordination of Young Christian Workers (CIJOC), and Caritas Internationalis, a 2012 consultation which took place on May 31st and June 1st respectively and was structured in the following manner: one session regarding youth employment and one session as a follow-up to last year’s project regarding domestic workers.

In preparation for the 2012 consultation, the CCIG launched a campaign to further promote awareness of youth employment issues among member organizations and their work partners. In particular, on April 18th 2012, Larry Kohler, member of the CCIG committee and former officer at the ILO,  led an  informal meeting where he discussed the numerous implications of this issue.

The following articles put both sessions of the 2012 Consultation, Youth Employment and Domestic Workers,  in perspective and address possible ways to go forward.

YOUTH EMPLOYMENT: Perspective on possible way forwards:
Following the consultation, these seems to be the main points indicating possible way forwards not only for CCIG but for its members:

What needs to be done:

  1. We need to reassess our approach to basic education. We need to avoid narrow and “absolute” skills and seek an approach that develops life-long learning skills to enable people to adapt to changing labor market needs;
  2. We need to draw attention to the social costs of austerity and jobless growth. Our priority to respond to the financial debt crisis is generating a serious long-term social cost, especially for young men and women.
  3. How do we make young people more attractive to employers’. First, employers’ need to look beyond immediate skills and lack of experience to identify people who they can invest in for the future. Internships should be paid and seen as a way to develop new quality staff within the company—and not just “free” labor. Such an approach would bring a more human face to a job, but as well enable them to play a role in the company and within society.
  4. More attention should be given to integrating work experience within education systems, by providing opportunities for practical work within education programs. This could significantly help facilitate the transition from school to work

What can we do as NGOS:

  1. Regarding our work in Geneva as well as the work of our NGOs around the world, we need to mobilize more youth involvement in the design, planning and implementation of our strategies and operational activities.
  2. International NGOs need to more effectively together (e.g. networking) to influence the work of the ILO, HRC and others to ensure youth employment issues are on their agenda and programs of work. No matter what issues our NGO may deal with, we need to ensure that we integrate youth employment issues, as appropriate, within our activities.

Concrete suggestions for Action:

  1. Improve access to information on youth employment challenges for those studying or looking for a job with a view to facilitating the transition from school to work.
  2. Support the development of incentives for employers to hire young people, e.g. tax incentives.
  3. Governments at all levels should be encouraged to employ young men and women within their civil services.
  4. Catholic and other Faith-Based NGOs are encouraged to ensure that youth employment and decent work issues are included within their on-going and future activities related to human rights.
  5. NGOs should work to ensure that young men and women are enabled to fully participate in their activities and to have an explicit voice within their organization.

The sponsors of the Consultation are invited to closely follow the General Discussion on Youth Employment at the 101st Session of the ILC, with a view to assessing possible opportunities for follow-up action in 2013.

Larry Kohler – Member of CCIG Board.

DOMESTIC WORKERS: Four down, one hundred and eighty-one to go

This is the result 17 months after the ILO Convention C189 Decent work for Domestic Workers was adopted at the 100th session of the ILC.
Uruguay was the first country to ratify the convention in June, followed by the Philippines and Mauritius in August and on Oct 17th Nicaragua. We still have a long way to go until all ILO member states have ratified.

The adoption of the C189 as a legal framework on international level is a tremendous success of cooperation of workers in the informal economy, social partners and civil society. However, major challenges still persist with regard to the ratification process of the convention, which will make it legally binding for State Parties. The need for advocacy work for the ratification which has long since started is prevalent as ever.

In the consultation of Catholic Inspired-NGOs ‘Building a future with Decent Work’ on June 1st 2012, Ms. Gloria Moreno Fontes from ILO presented the efforts of the ILO to support member states in their efforts to ratify. Quite an impressive number of states in Africa, Latin America and Asia have asked the ILO for support to prepare the legal process of ratification and implementation of the convention. Further information was given by the international coordinator of the International Domestic Workers’ Network (IDWN) Ms. Elizabeth Tang who stressed the obstacle that often lobbyists talk about domestic workers and do not let them do the talking. Additionally the landscape of organisations working on this issue is wide, colorful and often not interconnected. Ms. Maria Suelzu from Caritas Internationalis stressed the link with work on migration and the special situation of migrant workers because of insufficient legal protection.

The discussions with resource persons in working groups emphasized the need to continue and to improve the cooperation among unions, domestic workers and migrant organisations, human rights and Church organisations in order to increase the pressure on governments. Civil society and Church organisations often join hands in their lobby work. Sometimes though, efforts are running parallel and organisations do not know about the activities and initiatives of other like minded-ones. Hence, efforts on information sharing and preparing common positions and campaigns should be increased.

Besides that alertness and awareness rising is necessary for the rights and status of domestic workers in private households, in which the delicate relationship between worker and employer is rooted. First and foremost it is crucial to empower the domestic workers themselves to voice out and build up negotiation power. In both aspects Church organisations can contribute a lot to this need since they have facilities and are rooted in the population.

With this consultation the about 30 representatives of NGOs, unions and Domestic Workers organisations followed up on initiatives in the last three years organized and conducted by CCIG, Caritas Internationalis, CIYOC and Kolping international along the sessions of the International Labour Conference. ?

Hildegard Hagemann, Kolping international / German Commission for Justice and Peace