The ILO reaffirms its engagement with the tobacco sector
Roberto Suárez Santos
The 337th session of the ILO’s Governing Body reaffirmed its November 2018 decision to engage with the tobacco sector under the umbrella of an integrated strategy.
The ILO’s Governing Body, the executive body of the organisation, reviewed today the Integrated strategy to address decent work deficits in the tobacco sector. This is the fifth time engagement with the tobacco sector is under discussion.
In its previous discussion in November 2018, the ILO Governing Body made the decision to continue to engage in the tobacco sector through an integrated strategy while working on resource mobilization from various sources, including the private sector. In addition, the ILO stated in several documents to the Governing Body that private-public partnerships with the industry were successful and surpassed the objectives, which shows the importance of collaboration.
The Employers’ position throughout all five discussions has remained that the ILO must be able to engage with all legal sectors, including the tobacco sector.
The Employer Spokesperson on this issue, Jacqueline Mugo, expressed the group’s view on today’s decision: “The global business community is fully committed to improving the lives of the tens of million workers, employers, enterprises and communities in the sector.” She added “We are pleased that the ILO Governing Body renewed its support today for engagement with the private sector on improving working conditions in this industry.”
Many governments also are in favour of engaging with the private sector on this issue. During an ILO technical meeting in July 2019 in Kampala, Uganda on the development and implementation of the Integrated Strategy, many governments stressed that tobacco is a legal crop, which sustains livelihoods of millions of people in many countries. Repeatedly, Governments emphasised in the meeting in Kampala that there are no easy solutions for alternative crops and that tobacco will be an important sector for them in the future.