Ávarp Þorsteins Víglundssonar, félags- og jafnréttismálaráðherra, á 106. þingi Alþjóðavinnumálastofnunarinnar í Genf, 13. júní 2017.
Mr. President, vice-presidents, ladies and gentlemen.
I want to express my satisfaction with the report of the Director General “The Green Initiative”. Given the recent developments I want to emphasise my Government´s full support for and devotion to the Paris agreement. My Government has recently adopted an action plan to fulfil our obligations in respect of the agreement.
It is a great pleasure to address the 106th International Labour Conference. At a time when the global labour market is facing many grave challenges. With more people being displaced than ever before and seeking refuge across borders it is our duty not only to provide protection but also to assist and provide people with opportunities to live life with dignity. We must shift the focus from considering refugees a burden and see the opportunities and the skills that refugees offer our society. Iceland has the highest participation of immigrants on the labour market of the OECD countries and we do see similar trends with recently arrived refugees in Iceland. Participation in the labour market is a key element for a successful integration and wellbeing of families arriving as refugees in any society.
Iceland has in the last two years, experienced increased influx of migrants moving to Iceland for work, which correlates to the increased demand for workers needed in the construction and tourism industries. At the same time, the Icelandic labour market is again facing issues regarding the protection of foreign nationals' rights in the labour market and primarily ensuring that companies and foreign nationals comply with Icelandic law and contractual obligations regarding pay and workers rights. My government has issued a chain of responsibility bill, placing the responsibility for all foreign workers with the main contractor. During this session of the ILC I have the pleasure to deliver for deposit to the Director-General a document confirming Iceland's ratification of the protocol to the Convention No. 29. This is an important instrument in order to tackle new forms of forced labour.
One of the themes of this year's Conference is Women at Work. I want to ensure you of the emphasis my government places on gender equality not only at work but in every sphere of life. We have learned that shared power in politics and business allow us to better overcome systemic barriers to gender equality.
Quality day care and generous parental leave for mothers and fathers have helped increase equality at home and in the labor market. We have implemented gender quotas for company boards and public committees; introduced gendered budgeting and taken specific steps to eliminate gender based violence. For the past eight years, Iceland has topped the World Economic Forum Gender Gap Index. The Economist recently named Iceland the world's best place for working women. The role as one of the world's leader in gender equality comes with great responsibilities. We must continuously strive for further improvements to ensure equality in every spere of life.
Most recently, we chose to meet our responsibilities by initiating an effort to eliminate the gender pay gap by 2022. Our Government has passed a groundbreaking legislation that requires larger firms and state institutions to have their equal pay systems certified, based on the so-called Equal Pay Standard. Based on the principle of Equal Pay for Equal Work and Work of Equal Value.
Active measures are also being taken to decrease gender segregated educational and professional choices. In addition women still shoulder a larger share of unpaid care work, leading to missed career opportunities and a tendency to opt for part-time work. Over a lifetime, this amounts to an income gap so big that twice as many women as men in Iceland rely solely on the welfare system for their pension.
None of these challenges mentioned can be met without the support and cooperation of the social partners. Trilateral cooperation remains a pillar of Icelandic labor relations.
One of the major event in the history of the International Labour Organization is its 100th anniversary in 2019. To mark this occasion the Nordic governments in close cooperation with the Nordic social partners have decided to arrange a series of conferences in 2016 – 2019 with the support of Nordic Council of Ministers. In April 2019, the last of those conferences will be held in Iceland.
I thank you for your attention.