On the 7th of October 2016, trade unions in the countries of our region, together with the entire international trade union movement, will for the ninth time observe the World Day for Decent Work (WDDW). Established in 2008 on the initiative of the ITUC, this Day from the outset was regarded by trade unions as an ample opportunity to express, together, in solidarity, and simultaneously, their support for the Decent Work Agenda adopted by the ILO in 1999.
The aim of the Agenda is to secure quality jobs, decent and fair wages, safe working conditions and reliable social protection, as well as ensure compliance with the universally accepted international labour standards and principles of social dialogue, and respect for the dignity of the worker.
Over the period, the WDDW has become the key element in the fight waged by the international trade union movement to win favourable conditions for efficient and productive work, free exercise of their rights, including the right to collective bargaining, and further development of social partnership as the basis for modern labour relations.
The role and value of the decent work concept increases manifold at the present stage of the world crisis generating socio-economic instability. The unions are firmly convinced that the decent work principles and objectives must underlie all economic recovery measures affecting the interests of wage earners, and this is the only correct way to overcome the current difficulties.
This means that attempts by the authorities to patch budget holes through raising prices, taxes, rates or any levies on the working people, as well as cutting down the financing of the social sphere must always meet a resolute rebuff from the workers’ organisations.
It is no accident that the world trade unions persistently raise the matter before the state and government leaders of G-7 and G-20, pressing for the inclusion of the issue in the agendas of their summits. The recent Labour Summit held during the G-20 meeting in Beijing offered the world leaders a programme entitled "Six Steps" which, if implemented, might help create a new post-crisis global economy that would take into account the decent work requirements and the needs and concerns of workers and their families. However, despite all these efforts, the world is still far away from the goals of decent work.
In the GCTU region, the implementation of the Decent Work Agenda is also facing serious challenges. The economies of our countries are going through a tough period. Almost everywhere, the key indicators have gone down, inflation has increased, the national currencies have been devalued, the basic services and consumer goods have risen in price, and, consequently, the population’s real incomes have dropped. There are tensions in the labour markets, with an increasing number of labour disputes. Hidden unemployment has spread, involving young people. In addition, the work remuneration level is unreasonably low as compared to the value of labour, while attempts are being made to freeze the indexation of pensions and social benefits and constrain the growth of salaries. Quite a few countries have accumulated huge arrears in wages, and the social gap keeps growing wider. The plight of labour migrants also causes a lot of criticism.
In this context, the unions of our region strongly insist that the governments abandon their belt-tightening policies and take measures to boost economic growth through developing the real sector of the economy, stabilising the labour market situation, and raising household incomes as an essential factor stimulating demand.
With due regard for these facts and trends, General Confederation of Trade Unions calls on its affiliates to join the world trade union community and organise, on the 7th of October or on days around it, various solidarity actions in support of decent work, ensuring their wide coverage in the union press and other mass media.
Like last year, the International Trade Union Confederation proposes that this WDDW should be observed under the motto "End Corporate Greed!", which is explained by the desire of the trade union movement to resist the dominance of transnational capital dictating its inhumane rules of the game in the global labour market.
While supporting this proposal, the GCTU believes that local slogans and demands for this year’s WDDW should be closely linked to the specific problems and circumstances that affect working people in each of the countries or industries where we have our member organisations.
The World Day for Decent Work gives us an opportunity to, once again, manifest the unity and efficiency of trade unions in our region and their readiness to defend employees’ vital rights and interests. A successful WDDW-2016 will help further enhance workers’ trust in the unions, and strengthen their credibility and influence in society.
General Confederation of Trade Unions
Moscow, 26 September 2016