26 June 2017

“Yes” to diverse forms of work, “No” to new forms of exploitation: Sweden’s Employment Minister advises IOE Forum 

Ylva Johansson, Sweden’s Minister for Employment and Integration, provided opening remarks at the IOE Forum on Diverse Forms of Work on 14 June alongside newly-elected IOE President Erol Kiresepi. Minister Johansson told how Sweden had achieved “a win-win situation” through broad agreement between the social partners on the adaptations required to meet the needs of the evolving world of work. Sweden has the highest employment rate among EU Member States (peaking at 80.5 % in 2015).

She called on the audience to embrace new forms of work, but to avoid creating new forms of exploitation and vulnerability.  The goal, she went on, should be to create a level playing field for competition and to foster an inclusive society; to “protect the worker not the job”.

Minister Johansson and Erol Kiresepi set the scene for the discussion, which explored the opportunities and challenges of diverse forms of work. The two sessions and interactive discussions were moderated by IOE Secretary-General Linda Kromjong and Deputy Secretary-General Roberto Suárez, who is leading the IOE’s programme of activities on the Future of Work, one of the ILO’s seven centenary initiatives and a key area of interest for employers.

Erol Kiresepi highlighted the value of this type of exchange in preparing employers’ organisations and businesses to be “future ready”. Eight other guest speakers from Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America, including ILO Director-General Guy Ryder, gave their perspectives and insights, and the participants had the opportunity to put questions to the panellists and to voice their own point of view.

The interventions considered the implications of diverse forms of work for the regulatory framework, industrial relations, the transition from informality, business models, skills acquisition, opportunities for individuals, and teleworking. There was general consensus that a multiplicity of forms of work, whether full-time, part-time, remote working, under indefinite or fixed contracts, was an essential and necessary component of the new labour market. It was also underlined by several speakers that, despite exponential digitisation, there was still, and always would be, a role for “the human touch” in recruitment and business development.  There was general agreement that all parties – governments, employers and workers – had to cooperate in new ways to the benefit of society as a whole.

Guy Ryder noted that diverse forms of employment were not intrinsically “good” or “bad” and that this had to be acknowledged for the ongoing debate on this topic to move forward in the ILO.  What was key, said Mr Ryder, was to ensure that there was “no disadvantage to being in one form of work over another”.

The IOE Forum on Diverse Forms of Work is the fourth annual members’ event to take place during the International Labour Conference.  As in previous years, the Forum attracted more than 100 participants. Erol Kiresepi noted that it was an IOE tradition which he was proud to continue during his three-year presidency.

The full programme, which includes bios of the speakers and moderators, and all available presentations, may be downloaded via the links in the side panel. A full report of the Forum will be published and circulated to IOE members and partners in due course. 

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