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ILO and ICAO agreement flags importance of labour standards in global aviation industry recovery

16 Mar 2022

A new agreement signed today by the global bodies representing the global civil aviation industry and labour recognises the importance of decent labour standards for aviation workers in the safety, resilience and recovery of the global aviation industry.

The memorandum of understanding signed today by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the International Labour Organization (ILO) starts a new phase of cooperation between the organisations.

ITF Civil Aviation secretary Gabriel Mocho Rodriguez welcomed the development today: “This is an important step forward for the aviation industry - and for aviation workers. The ICAO-ILO agreement will ensure that international labour standards, including the fundamental principles and rights at work, are protected and the conventions, recommendations and expertise of the ILO is now formally considered and included in the development of global aviation policy.”

The previous agreement between the international bodies signed in 1953, was never transferred into practice beyond occasional participation in each others’ meetings. In the new MoU,  the bodies have agreed to enhance cooperation with systematic representation in meetings and consultation and information interchange on matters of common interest.

Mocho Rodriguez said if the agreement is effectively implemented the inclusion of labour standards in global aviation policy development means aviation workers and their unions across the world can expect greater recognition and safeguarding of their working conditions and rights in global, national and local aviation policy and regulation.

“The ICAO-ILO agreement highlights the importance and centrality of issues that the ITF has been raising on behalf of aviation workers for decades - it is at the core what we do,” said Mocho Rodriguez. 

“The ITF has long recognised the importance of labour standards and their role in making our industry safe. We will now ensure the MoU is implemented in spirit and that labour rights, as enshrined, protected and promoted by the ILO and its conventions, are central to conversations around aviation recovery, growth and liberalisation at ICAO,” Mocho Rodriguez added. 

As ICAO promotes a liberalisation agenda, the role of the ILO will be more relevant than ever in ensuring that labour standards and workers’ rights are not compromised in the competitive environment being promoted.

“The ILO’s unique wealth of expertise will be crucial to ensure that economic liberalisation does not result in substandard working conditions for aviation workers or the future expansion of Flags of Convenience practices in the global air transport industry,” said Mocho Rodriguez.

“We are looking at this new era proactively - there’s enormous potential to apply the Decent Work Agenda and Sustainable Development Goals through this agreement - to collectively work toward the shared goal of a sustainable aviation industry.”

“The ITF’s experience in the maritime sector shows that we can work with the ILO and ICAO on the critical issues that the industry faces from the future of work, attracting young talent to establish gender equality, alongside the industry’s recovery from the pandemic,” he said.