Auckland: The Council of Trade Unions is expressing extreme concern that Business New Zealand is participating in a move by the employers group of the International Labour Organisation to block hearings of the worst cases of abuse of the International Labour Conventions this year, including the arrests and removal or work rights in Fiji.
Speaking from the International Labour Conference in Geneva, Helen Kelly, President of the CTU said the ILO employers group is blocking some of the world's worst cases of abuse being heard, just to make a political point.
"Each year the International Labour Conference identifies and hears the worst 25 cases of abuses and these cases are mutually agreed by the employer and worker representatives at the conference," said Helen Kelly.
"This year the employers group used the development of this list to make a political point that they do not agree on the role of an expert committee that provides advice on the implementation of the standards. This point should have been raised in a different forum. On the basis of their objection, they refused to agree a list and it is likely that now no cases will be heard at this conference."
Helen Kelly says "people travel from around the world, some risking their safety, to attend these hearings. The hearings are an opportunity to bring international attention to breaches of international labour standards. Some of these breaches include deaths, arrests and dismissals on the basis of union membership."
"That New Zealand employer representatives would play any role but to encourage these cases to be heard is beyond explanation. It reinforces the need for a modern voice for employers in this country - one that respects international rights for workers to organise and collectively bargain, both in New Zealand and abroad."