Special UN meeting on the future of work: ITUC calls for placing decent work and democracy at the core of development processes

The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) outlined trade union priorities for achieving SDG 8 and accelerating the 2030 Agenda in the face of the multiple crises the world is currently facing.

David Acuña, President of the Central Unitaria de Trabajadores/as de Chile (CUT), participated on behalf of the ITUC in the Special Meeting on the Future of Work organised by the United Nations Economic and Social Committee (ECOSOC) at the headquarters of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) in Santiago, Chile on January 23 and 24, 2024. The meeting aimed to identify political options and opportunities arising from changes in the labor market, such as technological advancement and digitization, training and resilience of workers in labor transitions, with the goal of accelerating progress on the SDGs. The outcome of the meeting will contribute to the 2024 High-Level Political Forum, the 2024 Summit of the Future and the 2025 World Social Summit.

Drawing on data from the ITUC Global Rights Index, Acuña warned of the growing threats facing democracies and the rule of law, amidst decades of deterioration in labor rights and a decrease in labor participation in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Acuña also emphasised that current labor transitions disproportionately affect women workers, who face structural obstacles such as wage discrimination and disparities in workforce participation. Additionally, he highlighted vulnerable groups among workers, including youth, migrant workers, indigenous peoples, and the LGBTQAI+ community.

“In this scenario, the ITUC advocates for a new social contract based on six key demands, including the creation of decent and climate-friendly jobs, rights for all workers, fair minimum wages, wage equality, universal social protection, equality, and inclusion," said David Acuña, before articulating the ITUC’s five policy recommendations to UN Member States:

  1. Work together with the trade union movement to place the Decent Work Agenda at the center of key UN processes, such as the Commission for Social Development, the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, this year’s Summit of the Future, as well as the World Social Summit and the Financing for Development Conference in 2025.
  2. Incorporate the promotion of "decent work" and "equality" as a central objective of the 2025 World Social Summit to ensure a rights-based universal agenda.
  3. Support the implementation of the Global Accelerator on Jobs and Social Protection for Just Transitions.
  4. Defend the role of social dialogue and democracy as key tools for achieving the SDGs, including the recognition of the right to freedom of association, collective bargaining, and the right to strike.
  5. Secure clear commitments to finance the SDGs and reform the international financial architecture.