SA nominates Professor Mdwaba as the next ILO DG

South Africa has formally nominated and lodged papers for Professor Mthunzi Perry-Mason Mdwaba to run as the next Director-General of the International Labour Organisation (ILO).

Ambassador Mxolisi Nkosi lodged the papers nominating the Adjunct Associate Professor of Law at the University of Western Cape as the next ILO supremo, endorsed by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Tripartite and also by the African Union (AU).

The election of the new DG will be held in March 2022, in Geneva, Switzerland.

Professor Mdwaba has expressed his commitment to the ILO ideals of decent work and dignity, and to strengthening tripartism.

“It is my expressed desire to contribute to building an ILO that systematically demonstrates it cares for all its staff and constituents, and works to effectively deliver on commitments to ensure the dignity of everyone engaged in the world of work.

“Over my years of service at the ILO, I have become fiercely committed to addressing issues of social injustice at a global level. I firmly believe that the ILO and multilateralism, in general, have a profound role to play in ending injustices and ensuring the dignity of all people.

“My campaign for the ILO DG position will focus on my commitment to renew the organisation and re-position it by consolidating and enhancing all that it has achieved over the years to serve all constituencies in a balanced way, based on three pillars: Change, Social Justice and Impact,” Professor Mdwaba said.

The election of the new DG comes just over two years after the ILO celebrated its centenary in 2019. Recognising the drastically different context of modern life, the ILO’s 187 Member States, together with their global social partners, adopted the Centenary Declaration for the Future of Work.

This historic declaration seeks to promote a human-centred approach to the Future of Work.

Professor Mdwaba is fully aligned with the ambitions and objectives of the declaration, and all Member States subsequently confirmed its relevance as part of a comprehensive COVID-19 response in the most recent International Labour Conference in June 2021.

He believes he is the right person to lead the ILO at a time when the future is becoming more uncertain, especially as it relates to increasing gender inclusivity, youth unemployment, inequalities, rising informality, a more complex health and safety environment at work, decent work deficits and weakened multilateralism.

The COVID-19 pandemic has further exacerbated these worrisome trends, with increasing mental health issues also now a major concern.

As a candidate who is passionate about social dialogue and tripartism, and with the requisite set of skills, experience, knowledge and competence, Professor Mdwaba has the understanding and tripartite multi-constituency sensitivity to lead the ILO to become a global reference on future of work issues and provide international thought leadership to reshape the world of work.

Professor Mdwaba is an accomplished businessman, organised business activist, academic and thought leader who is well-grounded in the ILO and its tripartite culture after representing the International Organisation of Employers (IOE) at the highest governance levels with distinction.

Over the years, he has been a generous contributor to global social dialogue and global governance as an ex-officio member of the Global Commission on the Future of Work, employer spokesman for the programme, finance and administration, past chairman of the employers at the ILO Turin International Training Centre, member of the B20 task force on employment and education (and co-chair at the G20 Germany as well as the G20 Italy) and chairman of the Business Human Rights and Responsible Business Conduct Policy Working Group of the IOE.

In addition, he participated in various collaborative tripartite initiatives within the ILO and beyond.

To ensure a truly humane, inclusive, consultative, fair and equitable globalisation that provides equal access to opportunities, Professor Mdwaba promises to:

Strive to strengthen the governance of the ILO, an updated, robust and realistic body of the International Labour Standards that promotes the sustainability of enterprises. These must be aligned to existing realities as well as anticipating new employment realities that open up to previously unrecognised diverse forms of work and ensuring that these are reclassified to ensure inclusivity, impact and social justice.

Enabling dignity for all is a critical part of this. Some are referring to this as a “third way”. Professor Mdwaba will align with this in looking for a new way of restructuring the world of work via social dialogue.

Acknowledging the fact that the ILO’s focus is the world of work, he argues that it must nevertheless, be seen to be in touch with, and influence issues of trade, gender, race, development and business human rights and responsible business conduct, etc.

At international level, the ILO is the only United Nations specialised agency that is tripartite in nature, i.e. consisting of the representatives from government, business and labour.

The organisation works together with the social partners in promoting social justice and internationally recognised human and labour rights as it pursues its founding mission that social justice is essential to universal and lasting peace.

South Africa is a member of the ILO and actively participates in all structures, meetings and activities.

The country has ratified twenty-seven labour conventions, including the eight fundamental conventions.

Source: South African Government News Agency

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