ITUC takes demand for a New Social Contract to the UN General Assembly

The United Nations has commemorated the 100th anniversary of the International Labour Organisation with a debate on the future of work and how to deliver decent work for all.

Addressing the 193 member states of the UN General Assembly, ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow, said,” The challenges of today are as severe as the world saw in 1919. We face historic levels of inequality, a failed model of globalisation, increasing conflict and military spending, displacement of people at levels never seen before, a climate crisis and massive disruption from technology.”

The ITUC Global Poll reveals that 84% of the world’s people say the minimum wage is not enough to live on. Just 48% of women are in the workforce compared to 75% of men and the gender pay gap is stagnant at nearly 25%. More than 70% of people lack social protection.

“The magnificent vision of leaders 100 years ago and the social and economic successes built through the respect for the unique tripartite mandate of the ILO to establish a floor of global labour standards that would guarantee the dignity of work is floundering. Since the 1980’s we have seen further erosion of this social contract. And the model of global trade today has contributed to this deterioration,” said Burrow.

The ITUC is calling for a New Social Contract between workers, government and business to mark the new century for the ILO and to fulfil Sustainable Development Goal 8 - the promise of decent work for all.

“We need a new social Contract with a floor of a Universal Labour Guarantee. This was a central recommendation of the ILO Global Commission on the Future of Work and is the only measure that can ensure all workers are able to realise the promise of decent work and have access to justice. This means rights are respected, jobs are decent with minimum living wages and collective bargaining, workers have some control over working time, social protection coverage is universal, due diligence and accountability drive business operations, women’s equality is realised and social dialogue ensures Just Transition measures for climate technology and displaced people,” said Burrow.

The recommendations in the ILO Global Commission of the Future of Work cover all workers including those employed through platform business models such as Uber.

“Without these new rules, big technology monopolies like Amazon will continue to put both fair competition and people at risk as they consolidate their power at the expense of workers and of companies that do obey the rules. The massive benefits and potential of digital technology in particular are masking a darker side of giant data corporations controlling more and more of people’s lives including at work. Most of their overall workforce is underpaid and the companies themselves often pay virtually no tax,” said Burrow.

The President of the General Assembly will put forward the summary of the discussion to help shape deliberations at the 108th International Labour Conference in June, the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development in July and the Sustainable Development Goals Summit in September 2019.