BPW NZ Past President
|MRS. ANNE KNOWLES
Senior Specialist, Employers’ Activities
Anne Knowles, a national of New Zealand, joined the ILO Decent Work Team in the Caribbean in August 2012. She is the holder of an Honours Degree in Law from the University of Canterbury in New Zealand and is a graduate of the University of Hawaii’s Advanced Management Programme.
Ms. Knowles joined the ILO in February 2004 and gained valuable experience of working with employers’ organizations on two continents. She was appointed the Senior Specialist for Employers’ Activities in the East Asia region covering ten countries as diverse in size and development as China, Japan, Mongolia, Singapore, Cambodia and Laos. She supported employers’ organizations in areas such as labour legislative reviews, occupational safety and health, corporate social responsibility, labour standards’ relevance to market access for exported goods, and social security. She was also the international Back-Stopping Officer for the ILO’s Factory Improvement Programme that focused on achieving increases in productivity, quality and competitiveness through workplace communication and co-operation.
In August 2007, Anne Knowles was transferred to the Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) region where she supported and advised employers’ organizations in 18 countries. For eight months in 2008, she was the Officer-in-Charge of the CEE Subregional office while still undertaking her duties as the Employers’ Activities’ Specialist. Anne worked closely with employers’ organizations in the transition economy countries in Central and Eastern Europe assisting them to develop their capacities to be an effective voice for business across all issues relevant to their members and to provide services that added value to their members’ enterprises.
Prior to her joining the ILO, Ms. Knowles was the Chief Executive of the New Zealand Employers’ Federation, the peak employers’ organization that she joined in 1991. She was one of New Zealand’s employer delegates to the ILO for nine years and was a member of the Governing Body. She was the Employers’ Group spokesperson at three ILO Conferences covering Maternity Protection at Work (1999 and 2000) and the Integrated Approach to Occupational Health and Safety (2003), and also the ILO Bureau for Employers’ Activities’ support specialist for the discussions on the Convention on an Occupational Safety and Health Promotional Framework (No 187) in 2005/6. Ms. Knowles was also a member of the drafting committee of the General Discussion on Social Security in 2002 and an employer expert on a number of Committees including Committees on the Protection of Workers’ Personal Data, Ambient Factors in the Workplace and the Management of People with Disabilities.
Ms. Knowles’ practical industrial relations experience was gained over the 12 years she spent representing the interests of the meat export processing companies in New Zealand in her role as Industrial Executive and Legal Adviser with the meat industry sectoral association – the sector which was the major contributor to the New Zealand economy. She was the Industry’s advocate in all national collective agreements covering some 27,000 employees. She steered the industry through major challenges in the 1980s including restructuring which saw the total numbers employed reduced to 15,000 by 1990. She was also closely involved in developing a new legislative framework for labour relations in New Zealand, ensuring the move from a centralized system of wage fixing to one focusing on the enterprise.