Prof. Van der Heijden Chairs ILO Committee on Freedom of Association Meeting

Professor Paul van der Heijden, Senior Visiting Scholar at The Hague Institute, chaired the October 2013 meeting of the Committee on Freedom of Association (CFA) of the International Labour Organization (ILO) in Geneva. Paul van der Heijden has been the independent Chair of this tripartite committee since 2002.

The CFA is an ILO Governing Body committee set up to examine complaints about violations of the freedom of association, the cornerstone of the tripartite ILO. The CFA has nine members and nine deputy members, elected by governments, employers and workers. In the CFA they act in a personal capacity.

In its recent report [PDF 1.7 MB], adopted by the ILO Governing Body in its meeting of October 30, the CFA examined 33 cases. A total of 157 cases are pending before the Committee, all of which are complaints against a member state of the ILO concerning alleged violations of freedom of association, freedom to bargain collectively and/or the right to industrial action.

Of the 33 cases examined, the CFA noted three cases in which the earlier recommendations of the CFA had been implemented. This was seen for example in Case No. 2652, where all criminal charges against officers of a trade union were dropped by the Philippine government.

The CFA drew the special attention of the Governing Body to three serious and urgent cases.

  1. Case No. 2318 against Cambodia, concerning the murder of three trade union leaders and the continuing absence of concrete steps to institute the independent investigations necessary to determine those responsible.
  2. Case No. 2723 against Fiji concerning allegations of acts of assault, harassment , intimidation, arrest and detention of trade union leaders, and interference in internal trade union affairs.
  3. Case No. 2745 against the Philippines concerning restrictions on freedom of association and anti-union policies in the Philippines economic zones., including threats, assaults, blacklisting and criminalization of trade union officers.

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