My name is Goda Neverauskaite I’m coming from European Trade Union Confederation, but I am here today to speak as a representative of civil society, as part of the UN ECE Regional CSO Engagement Mechanism
Decent work deficits
Today’s economic and trade model is failing people. While global wealth has increased over 30 per cent in the last 10 years and global GDP has grown over threefold in the last 20 years, poverty remains rampant and nearly 1 billion people still live on less than USD 1.90 per day. Wages are stagnant and labour share in the economies has been decreasing, with one in six workers in Europe being working poor. Inequality is growing. This growth benefits elites only. We see deficits on all the Decent Work four pillars in our region: poor employment growth and domination of precarious jobs creation, wages that can not sustain living and force working women and men into poverty, wage arrears growing in Ukraine, but also in Russia. Young people are facing an exceedingly uncertain future, in Balkans, but also former USSR countries. Young women and men make up a significant number of the working poor, they are three times more likely to be unemployed or be underemployed, engaged in precarious work, or in the informal sector, or face exploitation.
Civic space continued to close around the world and decent work and democratic rights grew weaker in almost all countries, while inequality continued to grow. Workers denied rights to establish their unions, they face intimidation, harassment, dismissals in many countries of the region. Union activists were exposed to physical violence in Kazakhstan, Turkey, Ukraine. Arbitrary arrests took place in Belarus, Kazakhstan, Turkey. Serious restrictions to collective bargaining, such as employers’ or authorities’ refusal to bargain, restrictions of the scope of bargaining or interference in the process – including in Romania or Greece. Strikes have been severely restricted or banned and workers exercising their right to strike often faced summary dismissal and other retaliatory measures – notably in Spain, Kazakhstan, Spain, Ukraine. 89 million people in the world experienced some form of modern slavery, including in Europe, EU and Russia in particular. Child labour is far from being eradicated in the region.
Global shifts and transformation
The world of work is in transformation, in terms of technological changes and embracing more climate friendly policies to environment energy and production. Technological progress in the world of work is welcome as long as all those affected by it, workers and the labour movement, communities, are involved in shaping and regulating the shifting processes, and it is done in a responsible way. All transformation in the world of work must take place in the framework of Just Transition. Processes of change can and must benefit the many, rather than enhance the wealth and power of the few.
The governments have to regulate this transition, build active labour market policies to maximise benefits of technological change, create new decent jobs and ensure retraining and lifelong learning opportunities to all workers, not least those at risk of marginalisation. Education and lifelong learning opportunities must be introduced for all workers of all skills levels. Social security systems and retirement policies must also play a central role. Social dialogue and collective bargaining have been the key to worker-centred flexibility and inclusive innovation in that past, and must continue to be so.
The ILO High Level Commission on the Future of Work report Work for a Brighter Future sets out a human-centred agenda for a decent future of work. We endorse recommendations of the Commission and looking forward for powerful commitment at the centenary ILO conference to ensure:
– Investing in people’s capabilities: entitlement to life-long learning, in quality VET for young people; support for workers in situations of transition and those with a disability; a transformative agenda for gender equality including public care services; and, providing universal social protection.
– Investing in the institutions of work: establishing a Universal Labour Guarantee, time sovereignty with greater autonomy for workers over working hours, limits on maximum hours of work and guaranteed minimum hours; collective representation of employers and workers with social dialogue; and, harnessing and managing technology for decent work.
– Investing in decent and sustainable work: Including incentives for job creation, the rural economy and digital infrastructure; supporting long-term investment and supplementary indicators of human development and well-being to complement the GDP indicator.
Universal Labour Guarantee
The report also refers to the universality of the ILO’s mandate, its normative role and the importance of all countries ratifying fundamental ILO Conventions, with all workers including the self-employed and those in informal work, having the right to freedom of association and collective bargaining.
Endorsement of the Universal Labour Guarantee, which applies to all workers regardless of the status of their employment relationship, including those in informal economy or platform businesses. This Guarantee shall reiterate the workers rights on freedom of association, on collective bargaining and protection from discrimination and abolition of forced labour and the elimination of child labour; the right to safe and healthy work, an adequate living wage and control over working hours, as well as social protection floors.
Speaker 2: Maciej Kucharczyk, AGE Platform Europe:
I am Maciej Kucharczyk, representing AGE Platform Europe – a European network of non-profit organisations of and for people aged 50+. On behalf of UN ECE Regional CSO Engagement Mechanism, let me to bring to your attention the following issues in relation to the Goal 8 on the future of work with the focus on quality and inclusion work:
Combating persisting discrimination in employment
We are concerned about the low employment rates of older people and persons with disabilities, and about the high gender gap in employment rates for older workers. Barriers for the full participation of older persons and persons with disabilities in employment must be removed to ensure equitable and inclusive growth for all, independent of age or abilities. Actions are needed to combat age stereotypes, to use the potential of new technologies to allow a better balance between work and private life, and to address skills mismatches, especially regarding digital skills. All above solutions should be part of a comprehensive approach to quality and inclusive work across the life cycle based on age-friendly working environments and working conditions.
Work-life balance and gender equality
Another important area that requires your attention is the accommodation of caring responsibilities of older workers, in particular women aged 45-55 years (the so-called sandwich generation who care for both their children, frail parents or relatives). A reconciliation between work and family duties is indispensable to advance gender equality in the labour market and within the family.
A good example of how work-life balance can be enhanced is the work-life balance directive recently adopted in the European Union. The directive the first time ever recognises in European legislation informal carers – who are providing 80% of the care work in Europe. The directive will introduce major improvements for carers, such as a right to request carers’ leave of five days per year or the right to request flexible working arrangements. The directive encourages men to take up more family leaves through the introduction of 10 days of paid paternity leave and the remuneration of two months of parental leave per parent.
Mandatory social protection across different forms of employment
People working on non-standard contracts and as self-employed are not sufficiently covered by social security, lacking unemployment insurance or access to pension rights. The question of accessing social protection arises even stronger in a life-course perspective and looking at periods outside of employment and formal job-search, such as care. The objective is to allow non-standard workers and the self-employed to adhere to social security schemes, build up and take up adequate social benefits, and facilitate the transfer of social security benefits between schemes.
Reduction of working time is worth considering as the recent research shows that it could decrease unemployment and give people a chance to develop new skills, talents and knowledge, while creating the time that is needed to live a sustainable lifestyle. The New Economic Foundation calculated all the benefits of making the 21-hour work week a norm a long time ago, concluding that the benefits for the economy and the environment are considerable. It is a matter of political will