Release type: Media Release


New ILO appointments welcomed as Minister looks to Asia-Pacific opportunities


The Hon Bill Shorten MP
Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, Financial Services and Superannuation

Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations Bill Shorten today welcomed the beginning of Guy Ryder’s tenure as International Labour Organization (ILO) Director-General.

“Mr Ryder is the 10th ILO Director-General and I would like to welcome him to the role and congratulate outgoing Director-General Mr Juan Somavia – who held the position since 1999 – for his significant contribution,” Mr Shorten said.

Mr Shorten also welcomed the appointment of Greg Vines as ILO Deputy Director-General and one of Australia's most senior appointments in the United Nations system.

“Mr Vines has been Australia’s Special Labour Advisor to the ILO in Geneva for the past three years and brings considerable experience to this senior United Nations position,” Mr Shorten said.

The ILO was established in 1919 and is the United Nations’ body responsible for dealing with labour issues, in particular advocating international labour standards and fair and decent work for all. Following the formation of the UN in 1946, the ILO became one of its first specialist agencies. All bar eight of the 193 UN member nations are ILO members.

“The ILO has never been more important as the world recovers from the global financial crisis," Mr Shorten said.

“The Gillard Government shares the vision of the ILO that good jobs are the most important thing for people and the key to a strong recovery.

“The ILO supports an agenda of employment, labour rights, social protection and social dialogue and these are all key areas of focus for the Gillard Government as well.”

Mr Shorten announced today that he will promote this agenda in the Asia-Pacific when he leads a delegation to Myanmar in late October.

The delegation will include representatives from employer groups, unions and corporate sector representatives from financial services, mining and resources and manufacturing.

“The delegation is timely, as recent political improvements in the region have begun to promote broad international interest in investment opportunities in Myanmar,” Mr Shorten said.

“There are opportunities for Australian investment and this delegation is the chance to build important business ties and develop a better understanding of the labour situation in the region.

“I acknowledge the significant work the ILO has done in Myanmar to date – since 2002 it has been implementing strategies to address forced labour in the country and recent lifting of sanctions and trade restrictions by many countries was a direct result of the ILO’s decision to lift punitive restrictions on Myanmar.

“This Government – with our international labour social partners, ACCI, AiG and the ACTU – is a key supporter of the labour rights reform the ILO is leading, including in Myanmar.

“Australia looks forward to working closely with Mr Ryder, Mr Vines and the ILO to ensure that job creation, labour rights and social protection remain global priorities.”