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Source: International Labour Office (ILO)
11 June 2009




Fifth sitting
Wednesday, 10 June 2009, 10.15 a.m.
Presidents: Mr Hossain, Mr Zellhoefer


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REPORTS OF THE CHAIRPERSON OF THE GOVERNING BODY AND OF THE DIRECTOR-GENERAL: DISCUSSION

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Original Arabic: Mr SHBAIKAT (Minister of Labour, Jordan) ...

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It should also be pointed out that our region is marked by the Arab-Israel conflict and its very negative impact on employment. I am referring specifically to the war which Israel launched on Gaza, resulting in total destruction of all the basic necessities of life in that area of the occupied territories, which as you know has the highest population density, exacerbating the catastrophic results of the war. All of the factories had to stop producing, and unemployment reached record levels, not to mention the settlements and their detrimental impact on the situation of employers and workers in Palestine and in the occupied Golan.

Accordingly, we call on all member States of this Organization to help the Palestinian people, and the social partners in particular, by providing the necessary aid through the Gaza reconstruction and recovery plan, and to reaffirm the right of the Palestinian people to establish an independent State with Al-Quds as its capital, and to live in peace and dignity.

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Original Arabic: Mr ALBAKRI (Minister of Manpower, Oman; speaking on behalf of the Gulf Cooperation Council) ...

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Special thanks go to the Director-General for his Report on the situation of Arab workers in Palestine and the occupied Arab territories. There is a clear need to strengthen technical cooperation with those territories in order to provide the emergency assistance the people need to improve the situation of the workers and mitigate the negative impact on the economy of the occupation and arbitrary and destructive measures, at a time when unemployment has risen to record levels. We reaffirm the need to continue supporting and financing the Palestinian Fund for Employment and Social Protection so as to enable it in turn to help Palestinian workers.

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Original Arabic: Mr DAHLAN (Employer, Saudi Arabia) ...

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In his Report, the Director-General touched upon a number of extremely important issues in various key fields. With a view to implementing the fundamental principles of this Organization, the Appendix to the Report of the Director-General on the situation of Arab workers in Palestine and the other occupied Arab territories recognizes the suffering experienced by the Palestinian people. Indeed, 86 per cent of the population living below the poverty line, the unemployment rate has increased, the social situation has deteriorated, the economic institutions are no longer effective and trade unions are unable to fulfil their essential role. We therefore need once again to call for the application of the fundamental principles of the ILO in Palestine and the other occupied Arab territories, on the basis of the principles of equity and justice.

Arabs, Christians and Muslims yearn for peace. They are working towards that goal and believe that establishing two independent States will fulfil the right of the Palestinian people and the Jewish people to live in peace, putting an end to the long conflict.

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Mr AZOUZ (Worker, Syrian Arab Republic) ...

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We would like to draw your particular attention to the role of the fact-finding mission into the conditions of the Arab workers and citizens living under Israeli occupation in the Golan and Palestine, and the remaining occupied Lebanese territories. We are always keen to cooperate with this mission, involved in work of an international humanitarian nature, and are eager to apply the Conventions and international labour standards ratified by the Syrian Arab Republic, for all those who suffer under oppression. We are willing to cooperate in the application of these international labour standards ratified by the Syrian Arab Republic, in cooperation with both Government and employers, in harmony with the social and economic development of our country, and are keen to harmonize our national legislation with the provisions of international Conventions and standards.

The elimination of forced labour is linked closely to the eradication of exploitation, and the worst forms of exploitation are to be found in the policies and practices of occupation, be it in Palestine, the Golan Heights, Iraq or Afghanistan or any other Arab occupied country. This is because occupation has been and remains a form of oppression against the will of the people. The world has witnessed crimes committed by Israel against civilians in Gaza and Palestine. This is contrary to all Conventions in our world and, more particularly, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

In speaking of the strengthening of human labour relations under occupation and for ensuring the rights and freedoms of our fellow citizens under Israeli occupation in Golan, we would ask for the protection of the rights and interests of all peoples without exception. In Syria, we still suffer from sanctions imposed by the United States Administration, the Syria Accountability Act, on false premises, namely that Syria has been supporting terrorism. The world is aware of those who are involved in massacres and terrorism in Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan and Sudan, and of those who are involved in the affairs of sovereign countries contrary to the United Nations Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

We believe that justice, freedom and independence are universal rights for all people of the world, without distinction, and we believe that the colonial powers, on the pretext of the so-called “fight against terrorism”, hide behind other targets to exploit the resources of these people and to plunder their wealth. Freedom is an indivisible whole and the question of exploitation and colonialism is equally an indivisible whole. The Israeli occupants of our Arab territories, as well as other theorists of colonial forces, justify aggressive policies against these people in order to accommodate the plundering of their wealth.

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Sixth sitting
Wednesday, 10 June 2009, 2.30 p.m.
Presidents: Mr Allam, Mr Palma Caicedo, Mr Zellhoefer



REPORTS OF THE CHAIRPERSON OF THE GOVERNING BODY AND OF THE DIRECTOR-GENERAL: DISCUSSION (CONT.)

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Original Arabic: Mr KHOUJA (Government, Morocco) ...

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In the context of the current financial crisis, we must also take into account the conditions endured by the Palestinian people, who face appalling economic and social conditions due to the unjust embargo. We call upon the ILO to put an end to this tragedy and we ask it to support the Palestinian people by helping to fight poverty, marginalization and the deterioration of employment relations.

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Original Arabic: Mr AL-ALAWI (Minister of Labour, Bahrain) ...

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In conclusion, I would like to emphasize the importance of the fact-finding mission's report in de-tailing the suffering of the Palestinian people and the terrible conditions in occupied Arab territories. The Kingdom of Bahrain condemns all violations committed by the Israeli Government and all arbitrary practices against our brothers and sisters in occupied Palestine.

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Original Arabic: Mr AL-ZAIDY (Government, Iraq) ...

A report has been issued on the occupied Arab territories in Palestine, the Syrian Arab Republic and Lebanon following the visit of the high-level mission to these regions. We are facing a true humanitarian crisis. What happened in Gaza recently is shameful. Innocent civilians were killed and infrastructure was destroyed. We therefore call on the international community to put a stop to this savage behaviour. We call on all countries of the world to give more support to the Arab countries, to Palestine and to other countries with occupied lands, so that we can rebuild our institutions and strengthen our production capacity.

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Original Arabic: Mr ALLAM (Employer, Egypt) ...

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In this regard, I call on the ILO, this august Organization, to be more objective in dealing with the situation of the Palestinian people and the situation of Arab workers in the occupied territories. Its attitude is unacceptable and not in line with its noble traditions and its Recommendations, resolutions and Conventions that aim at protecting the dignity of workers.

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Original Arabic: Mr AL-GADRIE (Worker, Yemen) ...

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We oppose wars that aim to exterminate certain groups. The Palestinian people have long been victims of such extermination attempts. I am thinking, in particular, of recent events in the Gaza Strip and of the Palestinians crushed by the Zionist war machine and we appeal to you to oppose any violation of human rights, in particular, in the occupied Arab territories.

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Original Farsi: Mr PARSA (Worker, Islamic Republic of Iran) ...

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We have gathered in an Organization that has, among its fundamental ideals and tenets, the principles of non-discrimination and the drive towards peace and social welfare. It is a matter of regret that it defines no reform measures with respect to thousands of Muslim, Christian and Jewish Palestinian workers who are deprived of the minimum living standards by the Zionist regime. By the same token, there is no unified approach in this respect beyond the mere publication of a report and proposals for charity assistance policies. The discriminatory measures and the disguised version of the irresponsible globalization policies are likely to prompt further workers' action.

This Organization, which was once at the forefront of the fight against racial discrimination and apartheid, has now chosen to assume a diplomatic and conciliatory tone.

At this time, thousands of Palestinian workers and their families have challenged the conscience of workers' movements around the world. We wish that workers' organizations could stand tall when faced with such a historic test.

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Original Arabic: Mr EL AZIZ (Worker, Morocco) ...

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We would like to express our full solidarity with the Palestinian people and to the establishment of a State for the Palestinian people. We condemn the acts committed by the Israeli Army and Government.

We hope that, thanks to international pressure, this persecution of the Palestinian people will end. We would like to emphasize the importance of measures to assure the freedom of the workers in this region. We condemn the use of the ILO as an instrument used against certain countries.

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(The Conference adjourned at 6.30 p.m.)

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