HLPF 2019 - Trade unions’ present six action points to achieve SDG 8 successfully by 2030

Trade unions participated in the High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) side event that the International Labour Organisation (ILO) organised to launch its report “Time to Act for SDG 8: Integrating Decent Work, Sustained Growth and Environmental Integrity”.

Paola Simonetti, ITUC’s Deputy Director of the Department of Economic and Social Policies, participated in the event as panelist, along with Spain’s Minister of Labour Magdalena Valerio , ILO’s Director General Guy Ryder, and the Director General of the European Commission’s DG DEVCO Stefano Manservisi, among others.

The ILO’s SDG 8 report presents what progress has been achieved towards Sustainable Development Goal 8 (SDG 8) this far. It also analyses the existing interlinkages with other SDGs and provides policy recommendations. According to the authors of the report, progress towards SDG 8 is slowing down. Therefore, the authors call on governments to accelerate urgently their efforts to bring about the necessary changes needed to achieve SDG 8 by 2030.

Some of the main obstacles to achieving SDG 8 by 2030 are

  • the high level of informality;
  • the persistent gender wage gap;
  • the high level of unemployment;
  • the slow pace in which child labour is decreasing; and
  • the lack of progress on eradicating force labour.

These indicators probably indicate that the world is might be performing better only in the first dimension of the SDGs – the economic one - while the social and environmental dimensions are clearly lagging behind.


What policies do we need to accelerate action towards achieving SDG 8?

From a labour point of view, Paola Simonetti highlighted six main points of action.

Firstly, she addressed the need to address the disconnect between growth, productivity and wages. The fact that the world is still struggling to tackle inequality despite years of economic growth showcases perfectly this situation. On this, trade unions advocate pursuing a ‘wage-led’ growth by limiting flexibility and competition to rebalance the bargaining position of workers in the labour market.

Secondly, there is an urgent need to extend social protection systems to ensure universal coverage to workers in all forms of work through a combination of tax-based social protection floors and contributory social security, in line with ILO standards (Convention 102 and Recommendation 202).

Financing social protection is not a question of feasibility but of political will and it needs to be seen as an investment, not a cost.

- Paola Simonetti on SDG 8 and social protection


Thirdly, ensuring that labour markets are truly inclusive. For instance, this requires serious and efficient actions to pull the informal economy over to formality.

We cannot tackle this is issue only by vocational training to boost skills matching - as it was the whole panacea - but we should insist on the rights and rule of law dimension.

- Paola Simonetti on SDG 8 and inclusive labour markets


Fourthly, businesses must become sustainable and abide to transparency, due diligence and accountability across their supply chains. Simonetti highlighted the fact that research demonstrates that businesses that incorporate sustainability in their business models have an increase of productivity.

Fifthly, to implement Just Transition programmes that promote and increase investments in strategic areas for decent jobs creation, such as rural sector and green economy.

The sixth point and final point that Simonetti brought forward was about acknowledging that rights and social dialogue are underpinning SDG 8.

There must be a clear, explicit commitment to guaranteeing labour protection floor for all workers and supporting social dialogue because those are fundamentally connected to achieving SDG 8 in its integrity.

- Paola Simonetti on SDG 8 and rights


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