UN members States must make decent work a prime commitment

As the 46th session of the United Nations Commission for Social Development convenes in New York today, the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) and the Trade Union Advisory Committee to the OECD (TUAC) call for agreement on a strong resolution to go forward to the UN General Assembly, asserting the crucial importance of full employment and decent work in the fight against poverty.

Trade unions welcome the UN Commission’s decision to focus on ‘full and productive employment and decent work’ as its 2007-2008 priority. Alarming trends in unemployment in the wake of the current global market turmoil and the threat of recession – revealed in the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) new Global Employment Report 2008 – mean urgent action is needed.

A 20-strong trade union delegation in New York is telling the UN Commission that it is crucial for it to agree on a hard-hitting message identifying decent work as a central objective, to be integrated systematically into social, economic and development policies at national, regional and international levels.

While global growth in recent years has brought new jobs, many of them are low-paid and low-quality, leaving many working poor unable to support themselves and their families. Worldwide, an estimated 195 million people are likely to be unemployed in 2008.

At present, a serious lack of policy coherence within international financial and trading systems is hampering progress: demonstrated, for example, by the unreasonable demands being imposed on developing countries in market-access negotiations in the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

Policies should aim at quality jobs, education, and skills development, to address youth unemployment and enable people to escape from precarious or informal work – many of them women. Financial resources are key to success, and must be raised through progressive taxation regimes and development cooperation funding. Decent work further entails the full respect of trade unions’ rights to organise and bargain collectively, a lesson all the more important for governments because unions are central actors in achieving greater income equality through fighting poverty and increasing the purchasing power of low-income workers.

“Governments both within the European Union and beyond should pledge themselves, as a matter of priority, to integrate the decent work agenda into all macroeconomic policies and development assistance frameworks at national as well as European and international levels,” declared ETUC General Secretary John Monks.

“It is critically important that the UN Commission should reach agreement on an effective resolution that will galvanise efforts to end poverty through full employment and good quality jobs. Decent work for all must become a universal goal throughout international institutions and UN agencies,” affirmed ITUC General Secretary Guy Ryder.”These objectives need to be prioritised across the board, and institutions of governance at global and regional levels must explicitly commit to mainstreaming decent work into their policies and activities,” stated TUAC General Secretary John Evans.

Link to the statement

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