Global Unions Join for World Day for Decent Work
Around the world, thousands of workers will observe the first World Day for Decent Work today to focus attention on global solidarity and a joint action to ensure that every worker has a job that provides basic needs for themselves and their families. The AFL-CIO Solidarity Center and its partners worldwide will participate in a range of activities focusing on three themes: rights at work, solidarity and ending poverty and inequality.
Last year, global unions called on governments and global leaders to keep their promises to create decent work for all. The promise was part of a July 2006 U.N. ministerial declaration, and several international workers’ groups are sponsoring the Decent Work/Decent Life action.
With half the world’s workers earning less than $2 a day and more than 12 million women and men working in slavery, the need for decent work is clear. Says Ellie Larson, executive director of the Solidarity Center:
I am struck by how many people throughout the world do not have decent work—whose jobs do not pay enough to provide for the very basic necessities of food and shelter for themselves and their families; whose employers do not respect their workers enough to ensure a safe and healthy work environment; whose compensation does not include any hope for a secure retirement or for appropriate health care. These, the rights of every worker, are denied to so many.
Guy Ryder, general secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), adds:
Today, the global financial architecture is more fragile than ever. The lack of regulation in financial markets has led to global economic panic, a risk of downturn in the real economy, and thousands poised to lose their homes. People no longer believe that globalization works to their benefit. Governments agreed to make decent work a goal. Now those same governments must act to ensure that decent work is mainstreamed in global institutions.
The Decent Work campaign is calling on world leaders to:
- Reaffirm the commitment to create healthy economies and just and equal communities through strategies for full and productive employment.
- Affirm that everyone has the right to work, to good working conditions and to sufficient income for their basic economic, social and family needs—rights that should be enforced by providing adequate living wages.
- Respect workers’ freedom to form and join trade unions and bargain collectively.
- Strengthen and broaden social safety net protection by ensuring access to social security, pensions, unemployment benefits, maternity protection and quality health care for all.
- Change unfair trade rules and ensure that trade agreements are used as instruments for decent work, sustainable development and empowerment of the world’s workers, women, the unemployed and the poor.
- Create binding mechanisms for the promotion and enforcement of decent work, including core labor standards, in trade agreements.
- Ensure the priorities of the international financial institutions incorporate social and environmental concerns. Particularly, loan and debt conditions, which force countries to deregulate labor markets, reduce public spending and privatize public services must be stopped.
- Ensure that migrant workers are not exploited and that they enjoy the same rights as other workers.