Being free to join a union puts you in a better position to defend your right to a decent wage and decent working conditions.

The key to making sure that decent work becomes the rule and that millions of working families escape poverty and exploitation lies in giving working people the power to influence the decisions that shape their lives. People must be able to organise themselves (freedom of association) through trade unions to negotiate a living wage and defend decent working conditions on an equal footing with their employer (collective bargaining).

There are two major, legally binding international rules on this issue – International Labour Organization Conventions 87 and 98. Unfortunately, many countries and employers fail to respect these rules, which helps drive inequality, while imposing unnecessary suffering on workers.

Corporate greed won’t be stopped without clear rules for multinationals to abide by and strong unions to enforce them.

Where decent work is the norm, working people are treated with dignity. But today, millions of workers suffer from rampant abuse and injustice because of corporate greed. Multinationals continue to accumulate massive wealth fuelled by an economic model that pushes for ever-increasing production at an ever-decreasing cost at the expense of exploited workers.

Corporations have a responsibility to ensure the well-being of both the workers making their products and the people consuming them. Companies have a responsibility to know what is happening in their supply chains (due diligence), while governments have to make sure corporations abide by the rules. Trade unions play a central role in holding both parties accountable.

Getting back on your feet after an illness, knowing your loved ones are well cared for while you’re working, enjoying your later years – there are many reasons to support universal social protection.

We all have moments in our lives when we require extra support. But most people do not have access to proper social protection. Decent work is about more than just our working life. At retirement, we expect to receive a pension to enjoy our later years. If we have children, we want to be able to continue working safe in the knowledge that our loved ones are well taken care of. And in the event of an accident or illness, we still need to pay our bills; we also want to receive good healthcare regardless of the size of our wallet.

Trade unions are key to ensuring that no worker is left behind in the transition towards a sustainable future.

The world simply cannot go on as it does today. The lethal fixation multinationals have with ever-increasing economic growth motored by unlimited consumption is driving humanity towards a terrible dead end. It’s time for a new paradigm that will allow us to enjoy a sustainable future with decent work at its core. As many jobs will have to evolve or be replaced by new ones, workers must be given the skills and support they will need in this new world of work.

Informal workers produce wealth out of poverty. They deserve formal jobs with the same rights as all other workers.

For the millions of people around the world working in the informal economy, decent work amounts to hope for a better future. Despite their daily struggle to make ends meet, too many informal workers have no stable income, no regulated working hours, no pension, no social security, no health coverage and no way out of their situation. Yet they produce wealth out of poverty and are the motor of the real economy in many places in the world.

If you have a job, your income should be enough to provide you with a decent standard of living.

In an unsustainable world order where decent work is scarce, having a job doesn’t always equate to making a decent living. On the contrary, the number of those unable to make ends meet despite holding one or several jobs is on the rise. A minimum living wage provides millions of workers and their families with the opportunity to get out of poverty. We need to regain control over our lives, to thrive in our jobs and in our communities. Strong trade unions and enabling legislation are crucial to make this happen.

When trade unions have a seat at the table, big corporations and governments can be helped to develop sustainable policies and practices that leave no one behind.

Discussions between governments, employers and trade unions have traditionally revolved around salaries and working conditions. With the effects of climate change and technology, these discussions are now beginning to include strategic conversations on what measures need to be taken to ensure that no one is left behind as our society transitions towards a sustainable future. As the champions of decent work, trade unions are the first and last line of defence in protecting the rights and dignity of working people.

Greed has brought the world to the verge of environmental and social collapse. We urgently need a New Social Contract to ensure that rights are respected and corporations are held to account.

The key pillars of a sustainable world, such as decent work, must be enduring. That’s why we are proposing the creation of a New Social Contract. This framework will clearly state the responsibilities of all key actors in society, such as governments, employers and workers, as well as their rights. For workers, this includes the fundamental labour rights comprised in a universal labour guarantee: unionising; engaging in negotiations with employers (collective bargaining); ensuring living wages; preventing discrimination and exploitation; enjoying healthy and safe working places; and having a fair amount of control over working time.

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It’s time for 8

The clock is ticking for a New Social Contract

The adoption of the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) marks a historic opportunity to change the way the world currently functions.

For trade unions, the social, economic and environmental rights at the heart of the SDGs are key to the labour agenda.
And through our everyday work – upholding freedom of association and social dialogue, collective bargaining, and protecting the rights of working people – trade unions are instrumental to accomplishing the SDGs.
 
SDG 8 focuses on the promotion of inclusive and sustainable economic growth, as well as employment and decent work for all. It’s key to the 2030 Agenda framework, and it’s fundamental to our call for a New Social Contract between governments, business and workers.

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ITUC – International Trade Union Confederation
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