UFCW Canada hosts North America’s first Social Partner Forum on Decent Work in the Agrifood Sector

TORONTO, May 08, 2024 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- On May 2, leading voices from labour, industry, and government met as social partners in Toronto to discuss the Decent Work Guidelines for the Agrifood Sector, as recently established by the International Labour Organization (ILO). In addition to the social partners, experts from academia and civil society also contributed to this milestone event and discussion.

UFCW Canada hosted the meeting in conjunction with the International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers' Associations (IUF), a global union federation of agrifood workers.

The promotion of decent work for all is a key objective of the UN’s 2030 sustainable development goals. Goal 8 states to “promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all.”

The ILO has called for organizations to host events that foster discussion about using social dialogue to advance the guidelines. While Europe has held social partner discussions on decent work for many years, this forum was the first of its kind for Canadian stakeholders.

“Canada must be a leader in advancing decent work,” said National President Shawn Haggerty in his opening remarks, “We have the leadership here today to make it happen. Together, we are best positioned to advance decent work throughout the food system and supply chain.”

This forum brought together social partners from unions, employers, and governments. Labour groups included the Canadian Labour Congress, the Teamsters, RWDSU, IUF and UFCW. Representatives from key agrifood employers included Loblaws, Metro, Maple Leaf Foods, and the Canadian Meat Council. And government was represented by Agriculture and Agrifood Canada, Employment and Social Development Canada, and the Ontario Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development.

Dr. Elvis Beytullayev of the ILO led sessions on the relationship between the guidelines and core ILO conventions, which have all been largely ratified by Canada including C098: Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining Convention – ratified by Canada in 2017. In addition to Dr. Beytullayev, experts from the European Commission also joined the forum to demonstrate the economic, social and environmental benefits of advanced social dialogue.

“Canada has made a firm commitment to the UN’s 2030 agenda,” added Haggerty. “It will only be possible to realize its ambitious objectives with the full cooperation and collaboration of industry, labour and government.”

Derek Johnstone
Special Assistant to the National President, UFCW Canada