Trade unions presented priorities to eradicate poverty and hunger to the 60th session of the UN Commission for Social Development

ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow participated in the panel discussion of the Multi-Stakeholder Forum organised within the 60th session of the UN Commission for Social Development on 10 February 2022.

Speaking in the frame of the commission’s priority theme “Inclusive and resilient recovery from COVID-19 for sustainable livelihoods, well-being and dignity for all: eradicating poverty and hunger in all its forms and dimensions to achieve the 2030 Agenda”, Ms Burrow made a strong case for the promotion of Development Goal 8 on decent work and sustainable growth as a leverage to fight poverty and hunger. Increased poverty and hunger are directly linked to the massive loss of jobs and income COVID-19 has caused, while key SDG 8 targets such as jobs creation and wages are central in the fight against poverty, hunger and inequality.

The Resolution of the 60th session reflects many of the ITUC’s demands, such as the recognition of decent work creation as a key element in the fight against poverty and hunger and the need to "provide adequate labour protection to all workers", including through minimum wage policies, universal social protection, formalisation and social dialogue. The resolution also reflects key demands related to gender equality in the world of work, such as equal pay, investment in care and the fight against violence and harassment.

Policies to succeed

Trade unions consider the UN secretary-general’s Global Accelerator for Jobs and Social Protection a clear blueprint to recover sustainably from the crisis. The recovery must go through rebuilding the broken labour market, and decent climate-friendly jobs must be at the heart of all recovery responses. Poverty and hunger have been exacerbated by the pandemic in the wake of the massive job destruction that the virus has caused. Thus, trade unions call for stark investments to create 575 million new jobs by 2030, with just transition processes that will ensure workers have the necessary skills to take on these jobs. Furthermore, Ms Burrow insisted on the necessity for these jobs to be in compliance with the ILO Centenary Declaration, namely, that they be based on adequate labour protection floors, maximum working hours, living minimum wages, health and safety provisions, and that they effectively ensure equality and violence-free workplaces.

“A rights-based recovery is non-negotiable. Decent work can only be ensured if governments enforce human and labour rights and mandate corporate accountability,” stressed Burrow.

When highlighting the relevance of universal social protection to eradicate poverty and hunger, Sharan Burrow called for the need to establish a Global Social Protection Fund, in order to support the poorest countries in the world in setting up sustainable social protection systems.

Funding the efforts together

Ms Burrow made it very clear that “the financing sources to turn these priorities into reality are available, but we need more multilateral cooperation to push back austerity”.

Closing the financing gap is possible by combatting tax avoidance and evasion; scaling up international tax cooperation and progressive tax reforms; fulfilling ODA commitments; reallocating special drawing rights; and boosting debt relief.

Finally, Ms Burrow reiterated trade unions’ call for a new development model based on inclusive multilateralism where all stakeholders are standing on equal footing – including workers – and reach agreements on sustainable responses through social dialogue.

“The fragmentation of our societies with massive inequality, climate devastation, the pandemic and increasing conflict underscores the importance of social dialogue for inclusive and effective policy responses,” she said before adding that “multi-lateral failures, including vaccine nationalism must be resolved.”