” Organizing is critical if we are to build workers’ rights” – Director, ILO Office for the South Pacific

  • September 3, 2020

Address  by Mr. Matin Karimli , Director, ILO Office for Pacific Island Countries.

Fiji Trades Union Congress (FTUC) 48th Biennial Delegates Conference – “Building Workers’ Rights through Organizing”: 

Director ILO Office for the Pacific Island Countries, Matin Karimli


Organizing is critical if we are to build workers’ rights” – said  the Director, ILO Office for the South Pacific, Mr Matin Karimli at the opening of the Fiji Trades Union Congress (FTUC) 48th Biennial Delegates Conference on Saturday the 29th of August 2020 at the Holiday Inn,  Suva.


Mr Karimli being welcomed at the Opening session of the 48th FTUC BDC

“As the Director for the ILO’s Office for Pacific Island Countries, he said he was very pleased and honoured to address the 48th Biennial Delegates Congress. He mentioned that it has been 18 months of ‘marriage’ since the merger of FTUC and FICTU into a bigger body representing the workers of Fiji and he hoped the merger was working well. He  congratulated the FTUC on this milestone.

Brother Matin mentioned that  he saw an example of  effective organizing, which was the Conference  theme on “Building Workers’ Rights through Organising” because FTUC had  successfully organised  from two entities into one. He stated that  the current pandemic COVID-19 had shown to all of us the critical role of organising, building, partnerships and solidarity. He also  congratulated the FTUC for completing our Rapid Assessment on the impact of COVID-19 on workers and workplaces. He further mentioned that FTUC had a means of influencing policy with an evidence-based report.

The Director reinforced his teams commitment towards the workers’ organisations and looked forward to supporting the FTUC on some of the recommendations that emanated from our Rapid Assessment.


Mr Matin speaking at the 48th Session of the FTUC BDC

Bro Matin explained that as a non-native speaker, he  checked the Mirriam-Webster Dictionary, which defines organising as

  1. to form into a coherent unity or functioning whole
  2. to persuade an associate in an organization to unionize or organize workers
  3. to arrange by systematic planning and united effort

He commended the FTUC administrative structure, that enhanced the planning systematically and paved the way to work together in a united effort, and encourage workers to unionize or organise into a coherent whole.

Moreover, from an industrial relations point of view, Bro Matin mentioned that organising demonstrates the interplay between two distinct logics of labour’s collective action: on the one hand, workers coming together, usually at their place of work, entrusting the union to represent their interests and, on the other, social bargaining in which the trade union builds labour’s interests from the top down with management.

For the ILO, he stated that organizing matters! For the ILO, Organising is a building block. Our Convention No. 98 on the Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining Convention (1949) is one of eight ILO fundamental conventions. ” It complements the general principle of freedom of association in Convention No. 87 Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise Convention (1949). Organising is fundamental to the ILO because it is a building block for social dialogue, tripartism and tripartite values. The right to organise and bargain collectively without duress, enables everyone to jointly explore and develop long-term strategies so that together, they can achieve better working conditions, higher wages, improved employee relations and increased productivity. This cycle in turn balances efficiency, effectiveness and equity, and realises a sustainable balance between job flexibility, job security and job sustainability.”

Bro Matin informed that gathering that  last year ILO launched its Centenary Declaration to guide the Organization through the turn of its new century. We call it the Human-Centred Approach to the Future of Work. The Report calls for 3 interventions:

  1. Increase investment in people’s capabilities
  2. Increase investment in institutions of work and
  3. Increase investment in decent and sustainable work.

Having said that, he highly recommend that as we organised yourselves, we must increase our investment in workers’ capabilities – as we are the  people who do the work including  getting a strong voice within national institutions of work.

On another note Bro Matin  encouraged the unions to  increase our investments in decent and sustainable work by assisting your members that have been made redundant or lost their jobs to find or create better, decent and sustainable jobs.  “It goes without saying that genuine stability and productive harmony at the workplace can only be assured when there are effective channels for workers’ voices to be heard and in interaction with Employers and Government”.

Bro Matin further elaborated that trade unions must truly represent workers’ voices and interests in an orderly and regular dialogue with Employers, in the form of collective bargaining and daily engagements.  ” Trade Unions must also represent Workers in the tripartite platforms and in the meetings with Government to influence policy decisions.” –  Said Mr Karimli.

In conclusion Mr Matin retirarated that  ILO, with its unique structure and goals – labour standards and tripartism; social protection and social dialogue – stands ready to meet its responsibilities.  ” ILO’s influence and chances of success depend enormously on the strength of the national trade unions and your affiliations to the international trade union movement globally that so often displays solidarity at its best.

He wished everyone all the best in today’s 48th Biennial Congress discussions and congratulated the FTUC  for completing the Rapid Assessment on COVID-19 .

Read full text here : Director ILO Suva speech 48th BDC



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