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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2768

ILO urged to take measures against all forms of terror - President Rajapaksa

Colombo, 28 April, (Asiantribune.com):Terrorism is widespread the world over today. It affects the rich, developed and the poor developing world. This is also a threat to the conditions of work of the people that the ILO will have to take note of. Its commitment to social justice for the working people must put the ILO against all forms of terror, not only in the workplace, said President Mahinda Rajapaksa addressing the ceremony to mark the 90th anniversary of the International Labor Organization at the Presidential Secretariat today.

In his address Sri Lanka’s President pointed out, "As we set about this enormous task we were also faced with another major challenge, a challenge that affected our entire society both rural and urban, one that sought to sap us of our energies for progress, for poverty eradication, for the assurance of gender equality, for more improved working conditions, a challenge that drew on our resources that could have been set apart for development. I refer to the challenge of terrorism.President Mahinda Rajapaksa  who was the Chief guest of the Inauguration of the ILO’s 90th  Anniversary Celebration at President Office on 28th  is seen addressing President Mahinda Rajapaksa who was the Chief guest of the Inauguration of the ILO’s 90th Anniversary Celebration at President Office on 28th is seen addressing

He said, "As I speak here today, we have passed the difficult land-marks of the defeat and eradication of terrorism from our land. Our heroic troops, a vital sector of our workforce, are completing the historic task <’of sweeping terrorism away from our midst.’ The people see a new promise of freedom throughout the land, a freedom that was for long denied for nearly two-thirds of our land and a third of our population and working people. Terrorism not only threatens peaceful society, it also gives rise to misery that is the enemy of progress.

"In the past three and a half years we have responded to this challenge in different ways. We tried to have a dialogue and negotiations. That was rejected. We were then compelled to use force, the force that is the right of the State, force that is the only language that the terrorist seemed to understand. We used our force with great concern for the hardships it causes to the ordinary people, to the workers and farmers, to their children, and to their livelihoods. We had to take hard decisions, and in the end those decisions saw victory against the evil of terror

"Terrorism is widespread the world over today. It affects the rich, developed and the poor developing world. It is a threat that did not exist at the time the ILO was launched with such great hope 90 years ago. But, today this is also a threat to the conditions of work of the people that the ILO will have to take note of. Its commitment to social justice for the working people must put the ILO against all forms of terror, not only in the workplace.

The fisherman deprived of his harvest from the sea, the cultivator, deprived of his crop from the land, the community, driven out through ethnic cleansing, the plight of the Internally Displaced. All of this is a new agenda that the ILO will have to address as it enters its tenth decade, and moves towards celebrating its century of service and progress" Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksa said.

Presentation of token of appreciation for the Commitment to the World of work to  President  Mahinda Rajapaksa by Regional Director (Asia and the Pacific) ILO, Ms,Sachiko Yamamoto at President Office.  Hon.Minister of Labour Relations and Manpower Athauda Seneviratne,  Minister Dinesh Gunawardena,and Ms.Tine Staermose ,Director,ILO Colombo are also  in the Picture (Pix by:Sudath Silva) Presentation of token of appreciation for the Commitment to the World of work to President Mahinda Rajapaksa by Regional Director (Asia and the Pacific) ILO, Ms,Sachiko Yamamoto at President Office. Hon.Minister of Labour Relations and Manpower Athauda Seneviratne, Minister Dinesh Gunawardena,and Ms.Tine Staermose ,Director,ILO Colombo are also in the Picture (Pix by:Sudath Silva)

Text of address by President Mahinda Rajapaksa at the ceremony to mark the 90th anniversary of the International Labour Organization at the Presidential Secretariat, today – April 289, 2007

Honourable Minister of Labour & Manpower,
Honourable Minister of Labour,
Director of the ILO office in Colombo,
Excellencies,
Distinguished invitees.
Friends.

1. I am glad to participate in this event that marks the ninetieth (90th ) anniversary of the founding of the International Labour Organization, one of the oldest international bodies in the world, which serves the working people of all nations.

2. Let me first offer my warmest congratulations to the ILO for the dedicated work it has done in the last ninety (90) years, to ensure social justice to working people by improving the conditions of employment, and charting new paths of progress in widely differing societies.

3. I have been associated with the work of the ILO from the time I was Minister of Labor and Vocational Training in 1994 and have seen this great organization grow in the stature it was always recognized for.

4. My political life of more than four decades has been one associated with the aspirations of the working classes, both in the urban and rural sectors. In the field of trade union activity I have also had much interaction with employers. I believe I have a good knowledge of the needs, workings and aspirations of all the stakeholders in the improvement of conditions of employment for the working people, and through the years strengthened my personal and political commitment to the well being of the working class.

5. My association with the ILO has had a strong influence on my thinking on the tripartite nature of work. It has been a beacon of light that always focused on new possibilities for improved conditions of employment. The ILO has made the world accept new standards and value systems in dealing with issues that relate to the working masses.

6. A memorable event in the ILO’s ninety (90) years of service to the workers of the world has been the successful launch of the Decent Work Agenda in 1999, which provided an important thrust to the ILO’s commitment to decent work for all men and women. I must recognize here the leadership given by Mr. Juan Somavia, Director General of the ILO that helped in taking this important concept of Decent Work to the entire United Nations System.

7. As we celebrate the Ninetieth (90th) anniversary of the ILO, I am glad that the countries of the vast Asia – Pacific Region having the largest workforces in the world, are determined to make Decent Work for all a reality, and is progressing towards the goals of the Decent Work Decade launched at the Regional Meeting of the ILO in the Republic of Korea in 2006. Sri Lanka is proud to share in this activity that has the strongest endorsement of our government, which is proved by the substantial funds voted for this annually since 2007.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

8. Having joined the ILO, a few months after gaining independence in 1948, through the past 61 years, Sri Lanka has been consistent in upholding the principles of the organization. We, today, rank very high for our legislation and practices that seek to strengthen policies and attitudes towards steady improvement of the employment conditions, of all sections of our working people.

9. We continue to seek good labor practices that help increase productivity and contribute to the betterment of the working and living conditions of the workers, and also helps increase the profitability of employers. In relations between employers and employees we do not seek to polarize competing forces but to realize the common values that bind them in the larger interests of society and the progress of the country.

10. A significant aspect of Sri Lanka’s development strategy is our concern with the human aspects of progress. This is clearly seen in our indices of Human Development, in the widespread literacy in the country, in the ready access to good health services to all sections of society, in the advances being made in industrial health, in retirement benefits, the legally guaranteed right for workers to organize, and the advances in the laws that govern retrenchment and redundancy and other terminal benefits.

11. In a world where there is increased attention focused on working conditions in countries that export products, especially, conditions in factories that have been set up by foreign investors from the West, Sri Lanka is proud that there are no fingers pointed at us for harsh or adverse labor conditions. Our compliance with the highest global standards in working conditions is such that garments, an industry that makes up one of our largest exports, are proudly and rightly presented as “Garments without Guilt”. Similarly, tea, that our island is most famous for, is a “Blend without Shame”.

12. It will be wrong not to acknowledge the guiding and inspiring role that the ILO has played in Sri Lanka achieving such high ratings and recognition in an increasingly competitive world.

My dear friends,

13. With all this proud record we still have the great task of taking our people out of poverty. As the ILO’s Decent Work concept rightly shows, the surest way to achieve this is to provide people with decent employment. It is significant to note that unemployment in Sri Lanka is at the lowest ever.

14. It is in order to achieve decent employment for people that in 2006, our government presented the ’Ten Year Horizon Development Framework, the Mahinda Chinthana Vision for a New Sri Lanka”. It is a vision when converted to reality, as we do today, covers both macro-economic and pro-poor social development strategies.

15. It recognizes the major development challenges before the country as being the eradication of poverty, the elimination of regional disparities in development, disparities that are stark in nature, with the single Western Province having the largest share of development in the last 61 years. The performance in the rural agricultural sector has wider implications, as it is the main source of employment and sustenance, where the greater part of the population lives.

16. We have a commitment to changing this pattern, to build on the success we have already achieved and create the necessary decent employment opportunities, especially, in this long neglected sector that is the reservoir of the strength of our people. We need to follow policies that will keep our rural people in the villages, giving them pride in the rural upbringing and more healthy environment. Infrastructure development must not by-pass the village but moves together with the village and enhances rural life.

17. As we set about this enormous task we were also faced with another major challenge, a challenge that affected our entire society both rural and urban, one that sought to sap us of our energies for progress, for poverty eradication, for the assurance of gender equality, for more improved working conditions, a challenge that drew on our resources that could have been set apart for development. I refer to the challenge of terrorism.

18. As I speak here today, we have passed the difficult land-marks of the defeat and eradication of terrorism from our land. Our heroic troops, a vital sector of our workforce, are completing the historic task of sweeping terrorism away from our midst. The people see a new promise of freedom throughout the land, a freedom that was for long denied for nearly two-thirds of our land and a third of our population and working people. Terrorism not only threatens peaceful society, it also gives rise to misery that is the enemy of progress.

19. In the past three and a half years we have responded to this challenge in different ways. We tried to have a dialogue and negotiations. That was rejected. We were then compelled to use force, the force that is the right of the State, force that is the only language that the terrorist seemed to understand. We used our force with great concern for the hardships it causes to the ordinary people, to the workers and farmers, to their children, and to their livelihoods. We had to take hard decisions, and in the end those decisions saw victory against the evil of terror.

20. Terrorism is widespread the world over today. It affects the rich, developed and the poor developing world. It is a threat that did not exist at the time the ILO was launched with such great hope 90 years ago. But, today this is also a threat to the conditions of work of the people that the ILO will have to take note of. Its commitment to social justice for the working people must put the ILO against all forms of terror, not only in the workplace.

21. The fisherman deprived of his harvest from the sea, the cultivator, deprived of his crop from the land, the community, driven out through ethnic cleansing, the plight of the Internally Displaced. All of this is a new agenda that the ILO will have to address as it enters its tenth decade, and moves towards celebrating its century of service and progress.

22. I have no doubt that the ILO is already looking at facing the crises brought about by the Global Financial Crisis, which in turn has brought about the Global Economic Crisis. These are grave issues. But in its 90 year span the ILO has faced such challenges and grown wiser and sound in its policies in dealing with such issues.

23. These two crises that were born in the Developed World are having grave impacts on the developing countries, through no fault of our own. We are being forced to suffer for the faults of others. It is in such situations that organizations such as the ILO reflecting the spirit of humanity that must drive our societies, will have to rise above others in showing the path of social justice, of protection for the workers and farmers of the world, of fair trading and fair practices in international economic relations.

24. The ILO has been such a force in the past. I have all the confidence that it will be such a force for the good of humanity in the future. I wish it every success in carrying out its mandate for ensuring justice for the working population of our world, today and tomorrow.

- Asian Tribune -

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