Volume #22 - 422.|
NATIONS UNIES ET AUTRES ORGANISATIONS INTERNATIONALES
INSTITUTIONS SPÉCIALISÉES DES NATIONS UNIES
ORGANISATION INTERNATIONALE DU TRAVAIL
Note du sous-secrétaire d'État suppléant aux Affaires extérieures|
pour le secrétaire d'État aux Affaires extérieures
le 24 mai 1956|
39TH SESSION OF THE INTERNATIONAL LABOUR CONFERENCE,|
GENEVA, JUNE 6-28
The ILO has been going through a troubled period ever since the USSR returned to the organization in April 1954. Shortly afterwards, Byelorussia and the Ukraine joined the ILO. There are now nine communist countries in the ILO - Byelorussia, Ukraine, Albania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland, Yugoslavia and the USSR. Romania is becoming a member shortly. The total ILO membership as of the end of December 1955 was 70. The only condition which United Nations members have to meet is that they formally accept the obligations of the ILO constitution. The Soviet Union first joined the ILO in 1934 (about one month after the United States came in). It played an inconspicuous part until the end of 1939 when the ILO Governing Body ruled that its membership was already at an end because of its expulsion from the League of Nations. The USSR began to show an interest again in the ILO shortly after Stalin's death and came back in 1954. Since then the problem which has disturbed the ILO has been the status of communist employer and worker delegates, - should communist countries have the same right as capitalist countries to send tripartite representation to the ILO?
2. The protest from many western employer and worker delegates against recognizing communist employer and worker credentials is upsetting the ILO very much. The unique tripartite representation at the ILO requires each member country to furnish two government delegates, one employer delegate and one worker delegate. It is argued by employers and workers from the west that the employer delegates from communist countries are in fact government officials, and that the communist worker delegates do not belong to organizations having the free right of association. However, it should be noted that the present ILO constitution gives to governments the responsibility of appointing and selecting all delegates. Article III (5) states that the non-government delegates should be chosen "in agreement with the industrial organizations, if such organizations exist, which are most representative of employers and work people, as the case may be, in their respective countries". Therefore, there is nothing in the ILO constitution to warrant excluding persons nominated to represent the work people or the managerial element in countries with communist, socialist, or fascist systems of government.
3. In 1954, the ILO Credentials Committee examined this problem thoroughly and the ILO Conference accepted its findings which were that the Soviet employer and worker delegates should be admitted. The Credentials Committee pointed out that there was nothing in the ILO constitution to prevent the acceptance of these delegates. The votes on these issues were: For seating Soviet bloc employer delegates, 105 for, 79 against, with 26 abstentions; for seating Soviet bloc worker delegates, 93 for, 83 against with 30 abstentions. The Canadian government delegates abstained, while the Canadian employer and worker delegates voted against.
4. Opinion in the ILO was so inflamed that early in 1955 the Governing Body set up a three-man committee (Sir Arnold McNair, former president of the International Court of Justice, who was designated Chairman of the committee, Mr. Pedro de Alba, former president of the Mexican Senate, and Mr. Justice Cornelius, judge of the Federal Court of Pakistan) to study and report on the "Freedom of Employers and Workers Organizations" in all ILO member countries. The committee's voluminous report was published in March 1956.
5. This issue of the status of communist employer and worker delegates is such a contentious question at the ILO (though the United States employers are the only group which has threatened to leave the ILO) that the Governing Body has adopted the following tactic in handling the McNair Report: there will be an exchange of views about its findings at the June 1956 Conference, but no decisions will be taken or resolutions adopted which might prejudice the full debate at the Governing Body's November 1956 meeting; then the June 1957 Conference will debate it fully.
6. The McNair Report is rather inconclusive since to some extent there was a split in the committee with Lord McNair and Mr. de Alba submitting the majority report. Also it is generally recognized that the appointment of the committee was a stalling move by the Governing Body which hoped not only that the report would show the complexities of the issue and thereby discourage hasty and ill-considered solutions, but also that given more time, competitive co-existence would somehow get the two opposing camps used to each other's company. The important points about the McNair Report are:
(a) its stress on the universality of the ILO;
(b) its illustration of the degrees of government control over employer and worker groups in many countries (not only in the communist countries). Governments can suspend or cancel registration of employer and worker groups without any application to a court of law, in at least 20 ILO member countries;
(c) its pointing out that there has been a big swing to government participation in economic activities over the last 20 or 30 years; it refers many times to the growth of the "public sector" in commerce and industry. (Canada has 13.2% of its civilian labour force in this public sector; U.S.A. 10.5%; Sweden 15%; Australia 20%; U.K. 22%; Turkey 28%; Israel 33%; USSR 100%;)
(d) its comments that in leading industrial countries there is not much opportunity for government domination and control, and the growing participation of governments in economic matters has not weakened employer groups.
7. Officials of this Department and the Department of Labour have met to discuss this ILO problem and agree that:
(a) the United Nations and its Specialized Agencies should be representative of all political philosophies and economic systems; whether or not we like a particular system, be it communist, socialist free enterprise or syndicalist, it should be in ILO. This position seems to follow from our action in working for the admission of the 16 new members of the United Nations;
(b) the present ILO constitution does not define the genus of economic systems which will send employer and worker delegates to ILO meetings; in fact, the constitution gives to governments the over-riding authority and responsibility for appointing and selecting employer and worker representatives. All governments, though they naturally soft-pedal this point, favour this principle of predominant government responsibility;
(c) the employer and worker delegates from western countries are acting unwisely, though understandably, in trying either to exclude the communist representatives or to amend the ILO constitution, since the ILO was never intended to be a club exclusively reserved for private enterprise economic systems. Any attempt to amend the ILO constitution would probably fail, but if it did go through, the result would be not only the exclusion of the communists but the exclusion of employer and worker representatives from other countries, notably those with authoritarian forms of government;
(d) the tripartite system of representation is essential99 to the effective functioning of the ILO. All member governments support tripartite representation. Canadian worker and employer organizations support this principle too;
(e) pushing the communist countries out of the ILO or trying to demote them to "second class membership" with only government delegates100 will not induce them to change their economic system since it is firmly entrenched and producing, in some cases, spectacular results.
8. Since 1954, the United States employer group has taken a position on the extreme right. Recently the U.S. administration has been trying to get Congress and the Senate to raise the U.S. contribution to the ILO. The Senate agreed to do so but only if the ILO would take away the vote from the communist employer and worker delegates.
9. The Canadian employer group, according to the Department of Labour, is not as far to the right as its United States counterpart. While the Canadian employer and worker groups have voted against seating the communist groups in the ILO, they are rather wary of espousing measures which might either break up the ILO or result in its becoming restricted to private enterprise economies. It is thought they would be receptive to ideas and suggestions from quarters other than United States employers. If they could be persuaded to adopt an independent position, there might be some hope of working out a Canadian position on which government, employer and worker delegates could all agree.
10. Will you let me know if you agree101 with our point of view, particularly that outlined in paragraph 7. Also would you have a word102 with your colleague, the Minister of Labour about this? While the Deputy Minister of Labour has tried in speeches before the Manufacturers Association and Chambers of Commerce to stress the usefulness and accomplishments of the ILO and its representative and universal quality, it seems to me that government officials can go only a limited way, and the government will have to take over now and give a lead to Canadian workers and employers about the universality, as opposed to the exclusiveness, of the ILO, and the value of the tripartite system. Since the ILO Conference opens in Geneva on June 6, any public statement which might be made around that date, would I think have an enhanced value.