Speech at the plenary of the 112th International Labour Conference 2024

Director General,
Representatives of workers and employers,

Let me start by saying that it is a privilege for me to attend this plenary today and to be able to discuss the Director General report on The New Social Contract.

The report addresses a number of important issues that represent grave challenges in a pressed and changing world of work:

Rising inequalities, several conflicts with devastating effects on working life, new technology shaping new forms of work, climate change and an evolving lack of trust in several societies. The present situation is dire for
too many people around the world.


For a more than a hundred years, ILO has been a driving force behind the creation of binding international regulations aimed at ensuring workers’ rights, social justice, active tripartite cooperation and equal conditions of competition. ILOs mandate and work are needed more than ever; we need to enhance social dialog and secure decent work around the globe.
This occasion gives me the opportunity to emphasize orway’s strong support for ILOs work, its agenda and the goals the ILO strive to achieve.

President, the report presented by the Director General is an important contribution to the agenda for ILO in the future.

Norway especially appreciates the focus on social dialog as an important part of the renewed social contract outlined in the report.

The four thematic points for discussion are important:
1) The universal importance of the new social contract is apparent – We all live on the same planet, and we are interconnected in different ways. It is our shared responsibility to develop international standards and
norms that are responsive to a changing world of work and that will secure decent work. For instance, by establishing a certain number of guaranties and protection levels for all workers, for example on working time, so that we can enhance decent work for all.

2) The social contract is under pressure – we are all aware that we are we are behind schedule on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. To
promote sustained, inclusive, and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment, and decent work for all (SDG Goal 8) are important national – and global - goals for our government.
Norway is in the lucky situation that we have a high participation in working life and a low unemployment rate. But we also have national challenges. For instance we experience that too many young men are
dropping out of school and work, and we are developing policies to combat this.

3) So, should we adapt or reinvent a new social contract?
The social contract is in some ways like a marriage, it must be cared for, and reinvested in, on a continuous basis. Exactly as the social dialog between workers, employers and governments need to be a systematic
arena where the tripartite participants are listening actively to one another to find common ground.

4) How should we renew the social contract?
We could, for instance, invest even more in decent and sustainable work and develop new jobs both in the green economy and the care economy. At the same time, we must respect work-life balance, give special attention to vulnerable groups, fight against all forms of discrimination and have a continued focus on good governance in the Labour administrations. These are only a few of the many important topics we must address in the working life of the future.

President, to conclude, our Nordic models have served us well. Dialog between government and the social partners have contributed to important reforms to secure a sustainable and stable society. I would like to thank our social partners for our good collaborations – even though at
times our preferences are diverse. 

Thank you, Mr. President.