Showdown at the ILO? A Historical Perspective on the Employers' Group's 2012 Challenge to the Right to Strike
Industrial Law Journal, Volume 42, No. 4, 2013
23 Pages Posted: 19 Jan 2016 Last revised: 17 Jul 2016
Date Written: May 15, 2013
In June 2012, the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) Employers' group dramatically challenged the right to strike, interrupting usual proceedings within the organization's annual International Labour Conference. Among their many arguments was the fact that the ILO's Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations did not have a mandate to interpret conventions and could not therefore interpret the existence of a right to strike in a convention that does not explicitly mention this right. This has widely been seen as an unprecedented crisis, but the fact is that the Employers have regularly voiced their opposition to the right to strike since 1989, and it is moreover intertwined with deep-rooted questions regarding interpretation within the ILO. In other words, the questions raised by the Employers long predate the current (so-called) crisis. At the same time, however, until 1989, the Employers not only supported the interpretations of the Committee of Experts, but also supported the interpretation of a right to strike. In order to get to grips with this apparent paradox, this article explores the historical and political circumstances surrounding the Employers' relationship with the right to strike within the ILO, highlighting how current events reflect a new position of power that is historically contingent, as well as a desire to reduce the ILO’s influence.
Keywords: right to strike; International Labour Organization's (ILO); international labour law; Convention No. 87; freedoom of association; tripartism; Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations (CEACR)
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation