Trade unions set out demands at the HLPF for an SDG 8 centred, job-rich recovery and resilience

The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) has published its demands for the 2021 edition of the UN’s High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF): ‘SDG 8 as a New Social Contract for a job-rich recovery and resilience.’

The demands maintain that SDG 8 is key to addressing the social and economic impacts of the COVID-19 crisis.

The world entered the pandemic already with a ‘sustainability debt’ and the ITUC SDG 8 Monitor of 145 countries shows evidence of serious underperformance related to its four dimensions:

  • Economic well-being: economic growth alone cannot provide countries with the sufficient means to counter poverty and inequalities ensuring well-being to all.
  • Employment quality: higher levels of GNI are not necessarily correlated to quality jobs with adequate wages and inclusive labour markets.
  • Labour vulnerability: a global challenge with workers exposed to risks, under-protection and exclusion in the majority of countries.
  • Labour rights: the respect of rights of workers is not necessarily related to the good economic performance of a country.

The pre-existing labour market deficiencies have made those who were already vulnerable even more exposed to the impact of the crisis: low-skilled workers, migrant workers, informal workers, women and young people.

ITUC General Secretary, Sharan Burrow, said: “The pandemic has destroyed over 250 million jobs worldwide and left 1.6 billion informal workers in serious need. We need to create 575 million jobs to reach full employment and formalise at least one billion informal jobs.

“It is now imperative to focus on a human-centred recovery from the unprecedented crisis that is afflicting the world of work.”

By demonstrating key interrelations between SDG 8 and multiple targets of the 2030 Agenda, the ITUC paper sheds light on the leading role of SDG 8 in implementing recovery strategies and acceleration towards the implementation of the SDGs.

The policy recommendations presented in the paper offer a vision linking both urgent and long-term recovery measures. Furthermore, these recommendations are meant to support trade unions’ advocacy engagement during the HLPF and beyond.