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Moving together for a New Social Contract

Unions from around the world have taken to the streets of Geneva to demand an ILO fit for the 21st century. Thousands of trade union representatives, carrying the voice of the millions of workers they represent, showed their commitment to curbing abuse in the world of work and establishing a New Social Contract.

“We are in the midst of negotiations that could deliver historical progress. An ILO Declaration that sets a floor of rights for all workers, binding rules that effectively tackle violence and harassment at work, these are on the table. I am confident that together with governments and employers we can get these over the line,” said Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary.

Unions from around the world are in Geneva to negotiate the historic Centennial Declaration of the International Labour Organization (ILO). For the second and final week, negotiations between workers, employers and governments will aim to establish rules to meaningfully address abuses across the world of work.

Delegates from over 40 countries participated in the rally under the theme “an ILO for the 21st Century – time for a New Social Contract”. The decision to organise the rally was mandated by the ITUC’s World Congress in Copenhagen in December 2018.

“From South Africa to Sweden, from Costa Rica to New Zealand we are pushing in the same direction. Establishing rules for everyone is the only way to avoid a race to the bottom, in which we would all lose out. The ILO has played a crucial role in ensuring shared prosperity through setting global labour standards and holding governments to account for implementing them. We are bringing that ambition forward and finding solutions to the challenges of today and the future,” said Burrow.

The ILO launched its 100th year with a report on the future of work entitled “Work for a brighter future” which sets out ambitious proposals to address the challenges of the future. It called for a reinvigorated social contract based on a Universal Labour Guarantee.

That Universal Labour Guarantee would provide all working people – whatever their employment arrangements – the core rights of the ILO fundamental principles (freedom from child and forced labour, freedom from discrimination at work, and freedom of association and collective bargaining) as well as the right to a living wage, health and safety at work, and control over working time.

“We need to harness the potential of digitalisation and automation as well as of the transition to environmentally sustainable modes of production, while dealing with the risks and challenges of digitalisation and new business models that companies use to avoid responsibility for their workforce. We need to adopt measures that meaningfully address gender-based violence, which is at the heart of persistent inequalities between men and women. We need to address the ever-increasing levels of wealth and income inequalities by ensuring people’s core freedom of association and collective bargaining rights, and ensure that workers’ rights to safe and healthy work are absolute. All these things are possible and from the streets to the negotiations of binding rules, we are moving together,” concluded Burrow.

Find out more:

About the ITUC’s work towards ending gender-based violence at work

See the full coverage of #ILCDemo

The ITUC’s annual Global Rights Index 2019, which ranks 145 countries against 97 internationally recognised indicators to assess where workers’ rights are best protected in law and in practice, will be published on 19 of June.

Read this article online

The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) represents 207 million members of 331 affiliates in 163 countries and territories.

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