Monday, 8 November 2010

Industrial Action at the ILO


This past weekend I ran the first residential workshop of the MA in international labour and trade union studies that I manage at Ruskin College.
During the Saturday session Dan Blackburn of the International Centre for Trade Union Rights (ICTUR) delivered a session to the student group on the work of the ILO.

I happened to mention to the group that Ruskin maintained good working relations with the staff union at the ILO and that in the past the union had documented poor treatment of staff and an overall disregard for the role of the staff union.

By coincidence the staff union has taken the decision this week to undertake industrial action following a series of events where staff terms and conditions of employment were ruthlessly undermined and where the staff union were intimidated and felt that basic freedoms to collectively bargain were violated.

My colleague at the staff union Chris Land-Kazlauskas (President of the ILO Staff Union) has distributed the e-mail below today. Please do all you can to support the staff at the ILO.

Dear friends,

As many of you know, the industrial relations climate in many of our organizations – and in the Common System as a whole – has been eroding for some time. Of course, the International Labour Organization is not immune to this phenomenon. Censorship, strong-arm tactics, and even retaliation against staff representatives are becoming all too common in the international civil service.

Today, I am writing to inform you of an industrial action which will take place in the ILO – in headquarters and across the regions – beginning this week. An Extraordinary General Meeting will take place on Wednesday, 10 November 2010, where the Staff Union Committee will make proposals for specific industrial action. It is expected that the first action will take place immediately following the EGM, and actions have also been planned throughout the regions.

The ILO Staff Union Committee would appreciate any support you may wish to provide, and if you wish, participation in any events planned for your duty station. I am attaching some advance information to give you an idea of the situation.

Messages of solidarity would be welcome prior to the General Meeting on Wednesday. They can be addressed to Any letters you wish to address to the ILO Administration would also be welcomed. They can be directed to, with copy to

We will keep you informed. Once again, the future of collective bargaining and industrial relations in the UN System hangs in the balance.

In solidarity,

Chris Land-Kazlauskas
Christopher Land-KazlauskasChairperson, Staff Union Committee of the
International Labour Organization - ILO
4, route des Morillons CH-1211 Geneva 22Fax: +41.22.799.82.71
Tél: +41.22.799.7958
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Muhammed said...

Blimey, if this lots out on strike what happens to the workers in the rest of the world - we are all doomed!

Ian Manborde said...

Maybe not doomed Muhammed, but it does demonstrate that all workers face some degree of crisis in the workplace, and the comrades at the ILO are no different.

Peter Chigana said...


Courage to the comrades of the ILO. As you know theirs is a tremendous fight not only on their own behalf but that of the millions that rely on their efforts.

I will contact the ILO staff union office and send a message of solidarity from Kenyan trade unionists.


Jenni Ashton said...

Hi Ian,

Thanks for the update on this. I seem to recall staff complaints on short-term contracts during the visit to the ILO a couple of years ago. I hope the strike is a success - please let me know how they get on.