UN Commission for Social Development: Trade unions propose a New Social Contract as an innovative solution to promote social development and social justice

ITUC Deputy-President, Cathy Feingold (AFL-CIO) participated on 8 February 2024 in the 62nd Session of the United Nations’ Commission for Social Development, where she outlined trade unions’ view on securing a world that leaves no one behind. On the same day, Feingold introduced unions’ proposals to make social dialogue more effective on a global scale during a side event of the ILO’s Global Coalition for Social Justice.

During her intervention, Feingold underlined the urgency for governments to “move towards a New Social Contract based on rights, equality and decent work” and which guarantees inclusive societies, social protection, fair wages, and fundamental labour rights.

In addition, Feingold cast the spotlight on the necessity of closing decent work deficits in the informal economy and renewed trade unions´ call for formalising one billion informal workers by 2030. She presented concrete examples trade unions’ activities to formalise informal jobs and help undocumented migrant workers regularise their migration status

In light of this, Feingold stressed the importance of establishing rights-based migration governance frameworks that are built and implemented through genuine social dialogue. These should ensure migrant workers can exercise their rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining, access remedies in case of exploitation or other rights violations. She referred to the work that trade unions are doing in many countries to protect migrant workers from abuse, exploitation and harm in the labour market.

Concluding, Feingold emphasised that despite all efforts done at the national level, these cannot perdure without a truly rights-based universal agenda as the basis of multilateralism for democracy worldwide, which includes the participation of workers on equal footing with government and employers, in the spirit of tripartism and social dialogue.

The Global Coalition for Social Justice: ILO Side-Event

Later on the day, Feingold participated in a side-event of the ILO’s Global Coalition for Social Justice. In her speech, she laid out trade unions’ view on how inclusive social dialogue can be used more effectively to support the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and promote social justice on a global scale.

On this, Feingold highlighted how important a role social dialogue played during the pandemic in cushioning the social and economic impacts of the crisis. She also pulled out concrete examples of how trade unions, through social dialogue, have played an important role in advancing the SDGs in many countries around the world.

In order to make social dialogue more effective, Feingold insisted on three main measures:

  • The full recognition of the right of freedom of association, collective bargaining and the right to strike.
  • The establishment of institutional national social dialogue structures to effectively steer national development plans.
  • The recognition and inclusion of social partners in the new global governance architecture, as proposed by the U.N.

The ITUC will continue to follow the work of the U.N. Commission for Social Development, among other means, through its active participation in the ILO’s Global Coalition for Social Justice.