British trade unionist Guy Ryder was elected leader of the UN’s workplace standards body the International Labour Organisation (ILO) today after six rounds of exhaustive balloting, eventually beating French politician Gilles de Robien by 30-26 votes.
Having started his career in the TUC International Department, Guy rose to be the last General Secretary of the ICFTU and the founding General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) before moving to be Director of Standards at the ILO in 2010. He is the first trade unionist to lead the ILO since its founding in 1919.
TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber welcomed the news, saying:
“Guy Ryder will be a formidable advocate for workers’ rights and for a mature system of industrial relations around the world. He will bring governments, employers and trade unions together to promote dignity and respect at work, and help get the world economy growing again by promoting decent work and more and better jobs.”
Many other trade unions worldwide welcomed the election, such as the AFLCIO.
The ILO, which as a tripartite body is the only part of the UN family not run solely by Governments, is based in Geneva and champions the decent work agenda based on more and better jobs, social protection, workers’ rights at the workplace, and social dialogue. It has now begun its annual three week conference, where trade unionists, employers and government representatives from around the world meet to discuss workplace standards like ILO Conventions, and how to promote workers’ interests worldwide.
The TUC Executive Committee nominated Guy as soon as the former Director General, Juan Somavia, announced his departure, and the TUC’s Sam Gurney, a leading member of the workers’ group on the ILO Governing Body, has been organising support for Guy throughout the campaign. The British Government, having supported another candidate in the early stages, but having made clear they thought Guy was still an excellent candidate, swung behind him in the closing stages, helping secure his victory. The CBI representative seems (it’s a secret ballot, but not that secret!) to have joined several other employers in backing de Robien.