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Global labor forum debates shaping tech change to promote decent work
June 18,2019   By:Xinhua
GENEVA, June 18, 2019 -- Ensuring decent employment from digital work and what governments, workers' and employers' organizations do to shape technological development's direction is a global concern, speakers at an International Labour Organization (ILO) meeting said Monday.
 
The annual International Labour Conference (ILC) this year coincides with the 100th anniversary of the ILO, and a Monday forum looked at how to shape technological change to promote decent work.
 
Speakers at a thematic forum discussed how to manage the way digital technologies are transforming the world of work so that they lead to the creation of decent work.
 
One of the speakers, Zhu Hongren, Director-General of the China Enterprise Confederation, said that adapting to change has meant a change of attitude.
 
"The labor force can increase their ability to adapt to the new trends through training, upskilling and so on," the ILO quoted him as saying.
 
"For employers, they also need to change their attitude to adjust to change," Zhu noted while adding, "We are generally optimistic."
 
Some speakers focused on the need to regulate new forms of work, as well as the issue of who owns data about workers, garnered on online platforms and elsewhere.
 
Eric Manzi, Secretary-General of the Workers Trade Union Confederation of Rwanda (CESTRAR) said that for trade unions, "All we want is that the technological changes should not mean doing away with regulators, or that the government and the employers no longer fulfill their obligations."
 
Moussa Oumarou, ILO Deputy Director-General for Field Operations and Partnerships, pointed out that human being created, and must control technology, including data protection and people management by algorithms.
 
Parminder Jeet Singh, Executive Director, IT for Change from Bangalore in India stressed that workers should have control of data collected about them and their work.
 
"It is undeniable that the pendulum has swung too far in favor of owners of digital capital. It requires to be pulled back towards the rights of workers and other marginalized actors of the digital economy," said Singh.
 
He said, "Technology can be used to increase productivity, reduce working time and drudgery, and improve labor market access."
 
May Makki, Research and Program Officer at the Arab NGO Network for Development (ANND), said, "There is no guarantee that a digital job will be a decent job. So there is a need for better technology governance if we want to align the digital economy with sustainable development."
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