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Workers’ rights and the right to decent work

Norway gives high priority to helping to ensure decent work and promote fundamental, universal workers’ rights, job creation and employment opportunities, social protection and tripartite dialogue. Decent work is a fundamental goal in itself, but it is also crucial for a socially sustainable world economy.

Norway attaches great importance to promoting and protecting fundamental, universal workers’ rights, particularly through the International Labour Organization (ILO). The ILO is the UN specialised agency for labour issues, and is responsible for developing, monitoring and enforcing international labour standards. This includes a strong focus on employment and job creation. Norway has a seat on the ILO board for the period 2014–17.

Norway focuses in particular on strengthening the ILO’s efforts to boost employment and job creation. There is a huge need for more and better jobs, especially in light of increasing youth unemployment. The ILO estimates that 600 million new jobs will be needed worldwide in the period up to 2020 in order to address global unemployment and keep up with demographic developments.

Four main categories
The ILO’s normative role is also of great importance. Its eight core conventions set out a minimum of workplace rights that are to be respected, in four main categories: freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining, the abolition of child labour, the elimination of forced or compulsory labour, and the elimination of discrimination. Efforts to combat child labour are especially important, particularly in light of the Government’s focus on global education. Norway will seek to ensure that the ILO gives priority to education and vocational training, especially for girls. Combating forced labour is another priority area for Norway.

All member states are obliged to respect and protect these rights, regardless of whether they have ratified the conventions. The main responsibility for implementing and regulating decent work lies with the authorities in the country concerned. At the same time, all employers have an independent responsibility for respecting workers’ rights.

Support for cooperation in developing countries
The Norwegian decent work strategy has led to strengthened and coordinated efforts to promote workers’ rights globally, and is an important tool in Norway’s renewed emphasis on human rights in its foreign and development policy. Decent work is also a priority in our EEA cooperation. Norwegian employer and employee organisations receive support for cooperation with sister organisations in developing countries. The Norwegian authorities also support for civil society organisations in other countries that promote workers’ rights and decent work.

The Norwegian authorities are playing a leading role in efforts to ensure a more coherent approach to decent work at the international level, through cooperation with the ILO, other parts of the UN system, the multilateral financial institutions and the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Norway’s priorities:

  • continue to pursue a coherent policy with a view to protecting and promoting workers’ rights internationally, and contribute to greater coherence at the international level in the approach to decent work, including in the work on the new Sustainable Development Goals for the post-2015 period;
  • advocate that the ILO gives priority to its core areas and works to safeguard fundamental rights, particularly through Norway’s participation in the Governing Body in the period 2014–17;
  • seek to ensure that the ILO and other international organisations redouble their efforts to create jobs and increase employment.

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