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9 Jul, 2018

The Olive Tree Ed 8 highlights World of Work, Decent Jobs, in Travel & Tourism

Bangkok – Discussions of human resources in travel & tourism for the most part focus on the shortage of qualified personnel for our rapidly-growing industry. This is a chicken-and-egg issue. Has the travel & tourism sector ever done a serious, comprehensive study of our working conditions, and critically compared them to those in other equally high-growth, job-creating sectors such as Information Technology, Environmental Sciences, etc?

This long-standing challenge is the focus of a Special Report in the current July-August 2018 edition of The Olive Tree, the first and only publication designed to help travel & tourism become a more enthusiastic part of the solution in achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals. It summarises the key outcomes of the International Labour Conference 2018, all of which are directly related to SDG 8 (promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, alongside full and productive employment and decent work for all.)


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An annual event often called the World Parliament of Labour, the ILC was organised by the International Labour Organisation, a UN-affiliated body similar to the UN World Tourism Organisation, in Geneva from 28 May to 8 June, 2018. More than 5,700 government, employer and worker delegates from the ILO’s 187 member States discussed the most pressing issues facing the World of Work.

All the key topics were of clear relevance to travel & tourism. These included women at work; obstacles to gender equality at work and in society; violence and harassment at work; social dialogue and “tripartism” as a means to promote better wages and working conditions, social justice, peace and the SDGs. One key report focused on decent working time.

In a powerful keynote speech, President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins dwelled on how employment and decent work can promote peace and resilience. He noted the upcoming impact on jobs due to the pace and intensity of technological and demographic shifts, and warned that social disruptions can quickly ignite political fires.

President Higgins said, “Indeed, the recent arrival of ‘behavioural economics’ perspectives in international reports may herald more than merely a lifeboat launch from a sinking ship, it may be a tentative recognition that restoring social cohesion is the alternative to facing the inchoate anger of the Global Street.”

Sponsored by Jetwing Hotels, Sri Lanka, and Freme Travel, Brunei Darussalam, this Edition 8 of The Olive Tree will hopefully provide a starting point to change the discourse of “Human Resources Development” in travel & tourism. The ILC has laid all the necessary groundwork. The travel & tourism industry can, should and must play a major role in adopting and implementing its conclusions and suggestions if it wishes to be taken seriously as an “Industry of Peace.”

In his Olive Tree message, Jetwing Hotels Chairman Hiran Cooray was proud to point out that the ILC conference themes “have been embedded in the DNA of Jetwing Hotels ever since it was founded by our patriarch Herbert Cooray, my late father.”

Said Mr Cooray, “The life and times of Herbert Cooray have been chronicled in a book entitled ‘A Man in His Time.’ My father was raised in a middle-class family environment but developed strong socialist ideals. The book describes him accurately as “a fighter for the rights of those ill-served by authority” with a “great affection for the simple working folk of the world.”

He noted that Herbert Cooray was an “amazing personality, a man who organised the first student strike at his university but later become a successful businessman in developing the largest independent family-owned travel group in Sri Lanka. That was not a contradiction. A successful business, Herbert Cooray firmly maintained, would be only as good as the treatment meted out to the staff. That respect, he knew well, would be reciprocated and repaid many times over in staff-customer relations.”

Indeed, the ILO World of Work Summit allows representatives of Workers Federations and Trades Union to also have a voice on global trends. These voices are important to travel & tourism because they reflect the concerns of our own workers, who rarely if ever are represented at industry “thought-leadership” forums.

In his statement at the ILC, Mr. Virjesh Upadhyay, Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh, Worker Delegate, India, said, “Today, our world is confronted by serious issues such as inequality, forced displacement, unemployment, climate change, growing violence and other humanitarian crisis. Due to globalization, many people are living in places other their place of origin. Rapid economic integration over the last century has led to the development of supply and value chain model which has given birth to informality and global inequality crisis. The richest 1% now has more wealth than the rest of the world combined.

“We accept that the ultimate reason and enemy of all these problems are the decisions based on economic rationality and dehumanization of politics. The ultimate solution must be a revitalization and restoration of humanity. Therefore, it is imperative that we seek out a new way of thinking, a paradigm shift that will reach to the very foundation of human civilization.”

Mr. Kemal Özkan, Assistant General Secretary, IndustriALL Global Union, Turkey, said that job losses and job disruption are a certainty as a result of the technological advancements taking place under the so-called Fourth Industrial Revolution.

He added, “What will we say to those workers? Shall we simply tell them that they must sacrifice their lives – or at least their jobs, their families, and their communities – for the greater good? The only morally defensible answer is to guarantee them a Just Transition. If we want them to support this urgently needed transformation, there must be something in it for them. If we want them to stop what they are doing today, we must be able to tell them what they will be doing, tomorrow – and it had better sound good to them!

“No-one will support a transition to a pessimistic future. No-one will support an unjust transition. Therefore, programmes to ensure a Just Transition are not optional. All together, we need to build a future that we need not apologize to our children for.”

Key items in this issue of The Olive Tree:

(+) Global Peace can only be based on a just and equal economic order – Speech by President of Ireland Michael Higgins

(+) African Leader offers “pilot-country” status to advance Decent Work for Peace agenda

(+) Colombian President: Peace is only possible with social justice

(+) ILO tripartism “a most potent antidote” to negative political trends and discourse

(+) Ensuring decent working time for the future

(+) Towards 2030: Global Work Trends in support of the Sustainable Development Goals

(+) Social dialogue and tripartism to address key challenges in the World of Work

(+) The Women at Work initiative: The push for equality

(+) Global Survey: Ending violence and harassment in the World of Work

(+) Thailand, Singapore to advance Decent Work agenda, combat forced labour

(+) Workers’ Voices on the World of Work

Download The Olive Tree Edition 8 here, and get the debate going.