SDG Forum: “the global economic model has failed working people and their families”

Sharan burrow, ITUC Secretary General, brought the voice of over 200 million workers to the General Assembly of the United Nations on 25 September. Burrow participated in the first ever Summit on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that the United Nations have organised since the adoption of the SDGs in 2015.

Addressing the heads of state and government gathered at the General Assembly of the United Nations, Sharan Burrow focussed her speech on the hardships that million of workers are facing around the world despite the incredible wealth that they are producing.

In addition, Burrow brought forward trade unions’ key solutions to address climate change and reach the objectives of the 2030 Agenda in an effective and sustainable manner. Among other solutions, she stressed the importance of realising SDG 8 and establishing a New Social Contract.

Read and watch her speech below:



The global economic model has failed working people and their families. The world is three times richer than 20 years ago yet 70 per cent of people are denied universal social protection, 84 percent of people tell us the minimum wage is not enough to live on, 60 per cent of families are living on the edge of despair and too many people work in dehumanising exploitation in our global supply chains where 94 per cent of the workforce is a hidden workforce for the companies who rely on them for profit.

60 per cent of the world’s people are working in informal work with no minimum wage, no rights, no rule of law and without social protection - the global labour force is in crisis!

The social contract has broken down.

This is inequality by design and it’s time for Goal 8 to be realised.

The world’s people need a New Social Contract, which has the legal backing of a UN Treaty on Business and Human Rights with mandated due diligence, the implementation of the ILO Centenary Declaration where every worker has the guarantee of a ‘Labour Protection Floor’ - a floor of rights, minimum living wages, safety and health and maximum hours of work; a ‘Social Protection Floor’; and a transformative agenda for women and young people along with Just Transition measures for the global shifts of climate action, technology and the displacement of people.

Human and Labour Rights are the core of a civilised, peaceful and prosperous world. Yet 107 countries deny freedom of association and 80 per cent deny some or all workers collective bargaining.

When corporate greed or authoritarian governments close democratic space denying rights to organise and bargain collectively for shared prosperity they allow oppression and exploitation and it fuels the age of anger and despair we are living in.

SDG 8 recognises that ‘inclusive’ growth starts with compliance with labour rights. This includes fighting discrimination and inequality that create disadvantage based on disability, age, gender, youth and denial of health and education.

It’s time for Goal 8 - time for all 17 goals and the promise of a zero carbon zero poverty world.

This is the “Partnership” for Sustainable Development that we call for.