The labour movement’s voice, heard loud and clear at the UN Sustainable Development Summit

Read Education International (EI) President Susan Hopgood’s remarks in full on behalf of the Workers and Trade Unions Major Group at the Agenda 2030 Summit, delivered at the United Nations in New York on September 25 2015.

I am proud to be representing the world’s trade union movement at this defining moment.

The trade union movement’s very reason for being is to combat and end poverty, reduce inequalities, achieve decent work, social protection and women’s rights, to protect public services and infrastructure, and improve fiscal and wage policies.

In fact, too often we have been leading where our governments have fallen short.

Ambitious. Comprehensive. Unprecedented. Just a few of the words we have heard describing the Sustainable Development Goals. For example, for the very first time the world is on record calling for free quality primary and secondary education for all, with qualified teachers in a safe environment. Future generations will thank us for keeping the promises we are making today.

But now comes an even more difficult period – reaching these goals. Where the SDGs are lacking is in the commitments to implement the goals through financing and progressive public policy, as well as a sound accountability framework.

Deeds not words.

It is obvious to us that the current Means of Implementation falls short. Commitments are not real unless they are binding; public interest isn’t protected if the private sector has unconditional access to public resources.

The enabling environment needed to achieve the SDGs must include tax justice, including progressive taxation, strong public health, and water and sanitation systems and free quality education.

We have goals before us that are designed for consensus. And that is remarkable. Let us move very quickly to add the structures that will show the world these goals are also designed for success. Decent Work, Social Protection and Social Dialogue are integral means and ends to achieving the new Agenda.

Social dialogue, which brings together social partners, employers’ and workers’ organizations, is an excellent example of ownership of policy processes at the national level. Freedom of association and right to collective bargaining are key for this partnership to work.

As trade unions, we are committed to play our part.

We need governments to step up and fulfil their obligations.

Deeds not words.

Watch the video of Susan Hopgood’s remarks here (starts at 2:17:06)