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LETTER:Continuing importance of the ILO as upholder of rights

From Mr John Monks

Sir: The attack on the International Labour Organisation by Alan Duncan, MP, needs an answer.

The ILO remains a vital body for establishing minimum standards at work and upholding basic human rights. The CBI, TUC and British government are all key players in the ILO and should continue to be so. The problem is that, far from being irrelevant and ineffective, as Alan Duncan claims, the ILO is too effective for the British government's comfort in exposing violations of these rights at home.

For 11 years the British government has maintained that the ILO - which was so effective in acting against tyrannies in countries such as Poland, Iran and Sudan - is wrong about GCHQ. Of course, there are differences. No one at GCHQ has been tortured or jailed. But how can Britain condemn human rights violations in other countries while denying people the right to be members of a trade union in this country?

In order to be honest to itself and to uphold due process, the ILO conference has to condemn the British government in the strongest terms. General Jaruzelski's response in Poland in the 1980s was also to threaten withdrawal from the ILO. The ILO should not be blackmailed into giving the British government an easy ride.

Yours faithfully,


General Secretary

Trades Union Congress

London, WC1

8 June