Global March

7 October: World Day for Decent Work 2011

7 October 2011: Since 2008, the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) has been organising the “World Day for Decent Work (WDDW)” on 7 October each year. The aim has been to establish a day for trade union mobilisation all over the world – a day when all trade unions across the globe stand up for decent work. Time and again in recent years, the ITUC and Global Unions have highlighted the importance of ensuring that the basic principles of decent work are put at the centre of government actions to stimulate economic growth and build a new global economy that puts people first.

With unemployment being the highest ever reported with as many as 205 million people out of a job, support for sustainable solutions including social protection is more important than ever. On current predictions, a further 45 million young people will join the ranks of the unemployed in the coming decade. Failure of governments to transform economic policy so that decent, sustainable jobs are generated would have catastrophic social and economic consequences. Precarious work refers to forms of work characterised by atypical employment contracts, limited or no social benefits and statutory entitlements, high degrees of job insecurity, low job tenure, low wages and high risks of occupational injury and disease. Young people and women are disproportionately represented amongst those who only have access to such uncertain and unpredictable forms of employment.

This year, therefore, the World Day will concentrate on precarious work. Typically, precarious employment refers to non-permanent, temporary, casual, insecure and contingent forms of work. From a workers’ point of view, precarious work is related to uncertain, unpredictable and risky employment. Workers in these jobs are not, or only partially, covered by labour laws and social security protection. They also encounter difficulties either in law or in practice to join or form a trade union – key elements of core labour standards. Furthermore, female precarious workers are likely to be excluded from pregnancy protection and maternity leave provisions, as well as other important forms of social protection.

“Working people, having already bailed out the banks, are now paying for the crisis again as public sector cuts reduce or eliminate crucial services and benefits. Business, supported by some governments, has also launched a relentless attack on wages and job security,” said ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow.

"Continued growth in precarious employment will inevitably increase the incidence of child labour,” said Global March Chairperson Kailash Satyarthi. “Poor working parents who find themselves increasingly in situations where they are exploited and their rights are violated and who are placed in desperate situations will need the support of all family members simply to survive. The informal sector is rife with such abuses and tolerates the presence of working children because work places are unregulated and trade unions have a limited presence. Strong trade union presence and decent working conditions contribute to the gradual elimination of child labour and Global March fully supports the theme of this year’s World Day for Decent Work to address the growth of precarious work.”

The ITUC members around the world have been showing strong support for the World Day with many planned actions and campaigns to mobilise working people and their trade unions in tackling precarious work and promoting global regulation of the finance sector. The ITUC web site for the World Day – – is monitoring and publicising the different trade union activities and solidarity actions around the world and has a series of campaign tools and knowledge resources for download and reference. Trade unions worldwide are urged to visit the site for inspiration and to ensure participation in this crucial collective action. Global March calls on all its members and partners to express their solidarity with trade unions and workers worldwide in whatever way they can, no matter how small.

The ITUC has also published a new report entitled “Living with economic insecurity: Women in precarious work” which looks at the impact of precarious work on women. The initial impact of the global economic crisis on employment, which has left at least 27 million people without jobs, has been well documented. This new report analyses recent international research from a range of sources, highlighting a second wave of employment impacts which affects women in particular, and which is poorly reflected in official statistics and government policies. The pre-existing long-term trend towards precarious employment arrangements and increasing informalisation of the labour market has been markedly accelerated by the crisis, leaving more and more women without employment and income security, and further driving their wages down. The ITUC report looks at women’s economic insecurity focussing on the precariousness of their employment situation. It analyses global trends in the world of work from a gender perspective including the devastating impact of the 2008 global economic recession. It stresses that there is a second wave impact of the crisis on women which is insufficiently recognised.

To download the ITUC report, click here

To access the ITUC web site on the World Day for Decent Work available in English, French and Spanish for more information and to find out what is being planned and organised in different regions and countries, click here

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