ILO to restore Myanmar rights ahead of Suu Kyi visit
Myanmar's pledge to end forced labour will see it regain full membership of the International Labour Organization.
GENEVA - Myanmar's pledge to end forced labour will see it regain full membership of the International Labour Organization, the agency said Wednesday, ahead of a historic address by opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
"Full membership rights for Myanmar will be re-established at a vote today at about 6 p.m." said Kari Tapiola, special advisor to ILO Director General Juan Somavia. The 1600 GMT vote at the ILO conference in Geneva ends 13 years of restrictions on Myanmar and follows the signing in March of an action plan agreement to eliminate forced labour by 2015.
The restrictions, including the withdrawal of technical assistance for infrastructure projects, were imposed in 1999 because of the military junta's failure to comply with an ILO convention on ending forced labour and allowing workers to form trade unions.
To illustrate the extent of the progress being made in Myanmar, Tapiola said that the ruling State Peace and Development Council had agreed to put an end to forced labour by 2015 "and said it could even do it earlier".
Tapiola also said about 40 trade unions had been created in Myanmar since the start of the year.
"Until 2012 there have been virtually no workers' associations in Myanmar, not even government-controlled ones," he told reporters. Aung San Suu Kyi is to address the ILO on Thursday during her first trip to Europe since 1988 following years of restrictions under the ruling military junta.
Now able to travel since a quasi-civilian government came to power last year, she will also formally accept the Nobel Peace Prize that thrust her into the global limelight two decades ago, address Britain's parliament and receive an Amnesty International human rights award in Dublin from rock star Bono.