The United States announced yesterday that is withdrawing from the International Labor Organization, carrying through on a move initiated by the Ford administion two years ago because of the growing domination of the Soviet bloc and Third World countries.
The U.S. pullout creates a severe financial problem for the ILO since Washington has been providing about 25 per cent of its $80 million annual budget.
ILO officials acknowledged in Geneva yesterday that they would have to make some reduction in personnel and sharp cutbacks in programs because of the U.S. action. They also expressed fear that the Soviet Union would now try to take control of the agency. This would jeopardize ILO efforts to monitor workers' rights in Communist and other totalitarian states, they said.
Officials said they hoped to limit the reduction in personnel to no more than 10 per cent of the agency's 2,800 employees.
The formal announcement of the U.S. withdrawal was made by Secretary of Labor Ray Marshall. In a statement, he said the action was being taken because the agency had failed to carry out the "corrective measures" urged by the United States to restore its "commitment to its orginial purposes."
"The U.S. remains ready to return whenever the ILO is again true to its proper principles and procedures," Marshall added.
While the U.S. action was generally greeted with regret throughout the rest of the world, and Israeli official said that his country may also leave the organization.
The ILO decision to grant observer status to the Palestine Liberation Organization in 1975 was one of the major factors that triggered the U.S. notice of its intention to pull out unless the agency ended its involvement in political matters.
The Israeli official said: "We have constantly condemned the growing politicization of the organization, which was constantly forgetting its role as a labor body was instead was taking sides on issues that did not concern it."
The ILO, he said will lose its "universality and meaningfulness" without the United States and Israel would "definitely consider leaving."
U.N. Secretary General Kurt Waldheim sharply criticized the U.S. action as a "retrogressive step." A statement issued in his name said the move was all the more disapponting in view of President Carter's strong expression of support for the United Nations and for the strengthening of international cooperation.
The International Confeceration of Free Trade Unions, a Brussels-based organization that claims an affiliation of 55 million workers in the non-Communist world, declared that the withdrawal "can only weaken the democratic forces in the ILO . . . There is no alternative to the ILO." The 58-year-old ILO is the only international body in which industry, governments and labor groups are jointly represented.
The Soviet news agency Tass said yesterday that President Carter had bowed to the desires of American labor unions in going through with the withdrawal.
"This is what the bosses of the trade union AFL-CIO and the representatives of Zionist circles have been attempting to achieve," the agency said. It added that Carter's own advisers were divided on the question and "some of them consider withdrawal . . . as undermining the structure of the United Nations and offending dozens of nations."
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce had joined the AFL-CIO in recommending a pullout. The two groups mending a pullout. The two groups represent American industry and labor in the U.S. delegation to Geneva.
Within the administration, Secretary of State Cyrus Vance and national security affairs adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski were said to oppose a withdrawal while Marshall argued for it.