Union to Union intervention at HLPF 2017 Side Event on SDG 1 and Inequality

Ruben Wågman of Union to Union (Sweden) was part of the trade union delegation at the High Level Political Forum 2017. He spoke at a side-event entitled ’SDG 1 and Inequality. The text of the intervention is available below :

Dear colleagues, friends ; Thank you for the opportunity to speak about this issue here today.

Union to Union is a solidarity organisation for the unions and its members are the Trade Union Confederations in Sweden, which in turn are members of the International Trade Union Confederation, ITUC.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its Sustainable Development Goals, has since the early days of its negotiation been accompanied by the slogan and ambition to "leave no one behind". For workers and the union movement this means recognising and taking action on the ever increasing inequalities people face, within and between countries.

The evidence that inequality is increasing in all corners of the world is overwhelming. The Agenda 2030 has acknowledged that sustainable development can only be achieved through the creation of productive employment and decent work for all by enshrining it in SDG 8 respective targets of the SDGs. Fulfilling the four pillars of decent work - employment creation, workers’ rights, social dialogue and social protection- are crucial to ensure that “no one is left behind”. In light of global trends, the importance of social dialogue and collective bargaining cannot be understated in efforts to combat inequality. There is a need to reverse the current trends by promoting and supporting social dialogue and the role of the social partners.

International labour standards are the foundation for social justice and a fair globalisation. Despite widespread ratification of ILO conventions, obstacles to the effective realisation of the ILO Convention 98, the Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining, continue. As pillars of social dialogue, freedom of association and collective bargaining serve as cornerstones for reducing inequality. This is done by improving working conditions and ensuring fair employment relations and innovation, but also by valorising democratic institution-building more generally. It is clear that social dialogue has a key role to play in managing societal change.

Reversing the trend of increasing inequality is as pressing a concern as ending absolute poverty. There are proven ways of combatting inequality which only need political will to be implemented, including the fight for tax justice, against tax havens. It is also necessary to point out the gender aspect of inequality. Labour done by men or women must be properly valued and rewarded with the same importance. This requires policy and laws to protect formal workers and to recognise informal economy workers to bring them into the formal sector, to ensure anti-discrimination and minimum wages and core labour standards, and to secure effective and universal access to social protection, as well as recognising the unpaid care work carried out by many women. The Agenda 2030 has offered some hope that through the realisation of decent work for all, a more equal society is possible. Labour market institutions, such as social dialogue, collective bargaining, and trade unions create more equal societies and support truly sustainable and inclusive development.

Thank you.

More information on trade unions’ participation in HLPF 2017 is available here.