Commonwealth Day: CTUG and ITUC statement

Commonwealth societies need a New Social Contract and democracy to build resilience.

On Commonwealth Day, 11 March 2024, members of the Commonwealth Trade Union Group (CTUG), with 70m trade union members in 46 Commonwealth countries, reiterate commitments to press Commonwealth governments and the Commonwealth itself to support a New Social Contract including human rights, equality, peace and climate justice.

And the CTUG urges the Commonwealth to back the ITUC’s campaign For Democracy launched exactly a week before Commonwealth Day.

The theme of this October’s Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Samoa is "One Resilient Common Future: Transforming our Common Wealth", covering four areas:

  • Resilient democratic institutions upholding human rights, democracy, and the rule of law.
  • A resilient environment to combat climate change.
  • Resilient economies that support recovery and prosperity.
  • Resilient societies to empower individuals for a peaceful and productive life.

In response the CTUG calls for initiatives such as:

  • A Commonwealth Labour Ministers’ Meeting to promote workers’ rights, decent work and fairer wages, based on a memorandum of understanding with the ILO and tasked initially to promote the ILO fundamental conventions on freedom of association, collective bargaining, child and forced labour, discrimination at work, and occupational health and safety.
  • A plan for recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic based on creating resilient societies with universal health coverage, social protection and education for all.
  • Stronger action by the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group to tackle restrictions on democracy and human rights in Commonwealth countries and a stronger focus on enabling civil society to represent the Commonwealth family - or ‘agia’ as the Samoans describe it.
  • The promotion of inclusion and equality, especially equal pay for work of equal value, an end to gender-based violence, an end to discrimination against LGBTQI+ communities, rights for disabled people and inter-generational solidarity.
  • Stronger action, within the context of the United Nations, for peace and nuclear disarmament, promoting common security, ratification of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and the just conversion of military spending to social development.
  • Just Transition strategies, in line with the Paris agreement on climate change, to deliver financing for loss and damage, which ensures that no one is left behind in the move to low and no-carbon economies, with a united Commonwealth approach to COP29.