International labour organisation joins world congress as partner

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) is now an official partner of the 21st World Congress of the International Society for Labour and Social Security Law which will be held in Cape Town from 15 to 18 September 2015.

The ILO, a specialised agency of the United Nations, is responsible for the adoption, ratification, supervision and implementation of international labour standards.

Vic van Vuuren, ILO Director in Pretoria, South Africa says the organisation is a key partner to the congress.  “The ILO facilitates the implementation of labour standards, providing expertise on best practices with toolkits, research and expert advice, based on international labour standards.”

International labour standards protect basic worker rights, enhance workers’ job security and improve their terms of employment on a global scale.

Congress chairman Darcy du Toit says the four themes of the congress – “Collective bargaining – and beyond?”, “Equality and ‘citizenship at work’ as conceptual foundations for labour law”, “Social security: Which way forward?” and “Labour law and development” – are in line with the ILO’s Decent Work Agenda, which ultimately depend on the prospects for the global economy.

“These themes cover the main areas of development in labour and social security law, both in South Africa and internationally.  Overall, the focus is on the on-going challenges faced by labour law and traditional labour market institutions in adapting to a global environment that has become much less accommodating.

“Is the model of labour law, including its functions and the manner of its development, as it has taken shape under the conditions of the last century, in need of re-conceptualisation?  Much the same can be said of social security law in a climate of austerity and cutbacks.  We hope to see and hear new thinking and creative approaches in the plenaries and workshops,” says Du Toit.

He says particularly stimulating discussion is to be expected at the two specialist forums.

The first, chaired by one of the doyens of international labour law, Prof Manfred Weiss, Emeritus Professor at the Faculty of Law at the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University in Frankfurt, will address the question “How to cope with fragmentation and segmentation of the workforce.”

Weiss says the world of work is no longer the same as it was when labour law and social security law were developed and institutionalised. “New patterns of ‘non-standard’ employment relationships have emerged to an ever-greater extent.  The borderline between a contract of dependent employment and an independent contractual status has become more difficult to draw and has given room for an unspecific grey zone.