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May Day 2019: the time has come for a New Social Contract

With inequality soaring and corporations capturing an ever-greater share of wealth and holding governments to ransom, the ITUC is calling for a new social contract, backed by a universal labour guarantee, in this the Centenary year of the International Labour Organisation.

“Workers everywhere are increasingly living on the edge as corporate profits skyrocket. Record inequality and economic insecurity are threatening democracy and eroding trust in politicians and institutions that should be serving people but are not. Today there are 300 million working poor in the world, 190 million officially unemployed and 60% of workers in informal jobs. Every 11 seconds, someone somewhere dies because of hazardous and dangerous work. These are not just statics - they tell a story of desperation, deprivation and rising anger. We need to fix the rules of the global economy, and the Declaration to be adopted at the ILO in June must be the starting point,” said ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow.

“The foundation of the ILO in 1919 created the social contract, to create the social and economic conditions which would guarantee prosperity and peace. Then in 1944 the Philadelphia Declaration was adopted with the same objective. But recent decades of corporate globalisation have destroyed that vision and brought the world to the brink of environmental destruction and left billions of people behind. This year is another opportunity to get it right, to change the rules and put people in control. We need to harvest the promise of rapid technological change for the many, rather than the few billionaires who today control people's destiny without accountability or conscience. If we don't get it right this time, we may never get another chance.

“Freedom of association, building workers’ power through organising and collective bargaining rights for every worker, regardless of their employment or contractual arrangements, are the foundations of social and economic justice. These rights are under attack in every region of the world, and the rules of global trade and finance have to change to stop the race to the bottom. The new social contract needs to put the ILO at the heart of global economic decision-making, and call out the neoliberal dogma being imposed on countries by the international financial institutions,” said Burrow

As unions prepare for the ILO June Conference, the ITUC is launching a public petition to increase pressure for reform.

“This year we can begin to liberate the trillions of dollars being hoarded in tax havens and the bank accounts of the oligarchs of corporate globalisation, by putting bargaining power back in the hands of workers. World leaders need to lift the burden from the shoulders of working people. There is no lack of wealth in the world, just a lack of political will, which we are determined to change,” said Burrow.


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