Funding issue festers

| May 10, 2018

The International Labour Organization’s director-general said on Tuesday that he hoped the UN agency would, by the end of this year, resolve the issue of whether or not it should cut ties with the tobacco industry, according to an Agence France Presse story.

“We will be returning to this issue when our governing body next meets in November … and hopefully we can come up with an agreement at that point,” Guy Ryder reportedly told AFP in an interview.

The International Labour Organization (ILO), which is the only UN agency to accept money from the tobacco industry, has justified its industry ties as providing a way of helping improve the working conditions of some of the 60 million people involved in tobacco production worldwide.

AFP reported that, since 2002, the ILO had received more than $15 million from Japan Tobacco International and groups linked to some of the world’s biggest tobacco companies for ‘charitable partnerships’ aimed at reducing child labor in tobacco growing.

But some activists and civil society groups have insisted that tobacco-funded programs have little impact in improving workers’ conditions. They argue that a partnership with a major UN agency was allowing tobacco companies to portray themselves as responsible corporate actors even as their products were killing millions of people each year.

AFP said the ILO’s tripartite structure, which included representatives of employers, labor unions and 187 member states, could make it particularly tricky to reach consensus on difficult issues.

“[T]he employers’ group consider that it is legitimate and proper to continue to maintain financial support from the tobacco industry,” said Ryder, who added that the workers were “more hesitant about that, and the governments are divided”.

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Category: Breaking News, Leaf, People

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