October 7th marked the 6th year anniversary of the ‘World Day for Decent work’ (WDDW); an important day for workers and labor organizations worldwide. On October 7 each year, millions of people from all over the world take action in a bid to stand up for decent work rights.
What is decent work?
The International Labor Organization (ILO) defines decent work as work that is productive and delivers a fair income, and that provides security and safety in the workplace and social protection for families. Decent work also ensures that employees are free to express their concerns, organize and participate in the decisions that affect their lives.
The current situation…
Nowadays, the rights and protection of workers are sadly not guaranteed, even in developed countries. Just think of the mass suicides in electronic companies in China, hundreds of deaths of young men at the World Cup construction sites in Qatar, crushed bodies in a garment factory in Bangladesh, and blacklisting for exposing dangers on UK building sites. These are just some of the hazards that threaten the existence of decent work standards globally. The bid though is whether the calling for the creation of decent jobs for all will be welcomed by all employers across the world.
Why is the promotion of decent work so important today?
Providing decent work has become more vital than ever. According to the ILO, more than 200 million children are forced to work as slaves and since 2008, about 50 million jobs have been lost. Over 870 million workers, a quarter of the workforce, around the world are in precarious employment and their income does not exceed the poverty threshold.
Safeguarding decent work standards globally, will enhance social cohesion. It will also help eliminate perpetual problems such as discrimination against women, young people (including children) and migrant workers (which might be used as cheap labor). Decent wages should be also part of a set of fair work practices that will enable employees live with dignity and so contribute to minimizing wealth gaps between social classes.
Moreover, decent working time makes up another important aspect of what is defined as decent work. Excessive working time interferes with the balance between work and family life, increases injury hazard risks, may signal an inadequate hourly pay and, in the long run, can be a threat to workers’ physical and mental capacity to work.
Moreover, it is essential that social dialogue and workplace relations are encouraged by policymakers, and other social agents all around the world. This can be done through the collectively elected representatives or involve direct interaction between staff and the employer. Workers should therefore feel confident to organize freely to defend their interests and negotiate collectively with the employer.
The ongoing global crisis should make us more alert and conscious of the need to promote social justice and decent jobs for everyone on this planet.