Friday, August 24, 2012

The international trade union movement will observe the traditional World Day for Decent Work (WDDW) on the 7th of October, 2012.
The Decent Work Agenda launched by the ILO in 1999 was enthusiastically supported by the world trade union movement. Since 2008, on the initiative of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), a World Day for Decent Work has been marked throughout the world, including all countries with the affiliates of the General Confederation of Trade Unions (GCTU).
The ILO defines decent work as productive work carried out in an environment of freedom, justice, security, and respect for the dignity of the worker, subject to universally recognised labour standards and the principles of social dialogue. It rests on full and productive employment, healthy work conditions, and fair work remuneration.
As part of their fight for decent work, world trade unions pay individual attention to the specific problems of certain categories of workers, such as women, youth, the unemployed, whose number has recently been soaring; migrant workers, workers in the informal economy with its most severe exploitation, agency workers and other categories in new forms of employment generated by the rapid advance of globalisation and scientific and technological progress.
The ITUC proposes that the provision of employment to the youth, as the most acute problem to be solved in the world of work, should be made a main theme of this year’s WDDW. Today, young people make up 40 per cent, or 75 million,  of the world's unemployed, which is four million more than in the pre-crisis year 2007. Over 6 million young people, despairing of finding a job, stopped looking for work, while more than 150 million live on less than $1.25 a day, that is, below the poverty line set by the UN.
The issue of youth unemployment was one of the main agenda items of the 101st Session of the International Labour Conference held last June in Geneva. The Conference emphasised that if this situation lingered on it could lead to the emergence of a "lost generation", which would pose a serious threat to social cohesion.
The General Confederation of Trade Unions shares fully the concern of the international community over the current situation. In our region, the problem of youth employment has been particularly aggravated by the global financial and economic crisis. Today, the unemployment rate among young people in the countries is two to three times higher than among older workers. In some of the states, they account for over 40 per cent of the total unemployed. This represents a serious barrier that wilkl hamper the progress of the younger generation to a living in dignity.
Together with trade unions around the world, the GCTU believes that overcoming the employment crisis and, above all, solving the problem of youth unemployment, will require appropriate adjustments to the investment policies. Trade unions should insist on creating new jobs through heavier investment in the real economy, establishing up-to-date systems of vocational training and retraining tied to the real needs of the market, and cultivating the idea of inter-generational solidarity in public opinion.

Our post-crisis times are also characterised by increasingly sharp all-out attacks by employers (often with the support or connivance of the authorities) on the rights of workers and the freedom of their trade unions, including the paramount rights to bargain collectively and to strike. Such a trend can be observed both at national and international levels. At the recent session of the International Labour Conference in Geneva, the Employers' Group actually questioned workers’ right to strike. This goes to show that the business quarters intend to deal with the effects of the global crisis by deteriorating the working and living conditions and encroaching upon the rights of employees and trade unions, rather than by sound economic restructuring, with due regard for lessons learned from the crisis. And this is still another serious challenge facing trade unions now.
The fight for decent work and social justice, and for full and productive employment, including the provision of jobs for young people, will be the motto and keynote of the upcoming 6th Congress of the General Confederation of Trade Unions to be held 12 September 2012. We are confident that its decisions will provide a good guidance and help in the struggles waged by trade unions in our region to protect the dignity of the working person.
The GCTU calls on its affiliates to mark, widely and publicly, the World Day for Decent Work 7 October 2012, bearing in mind these factors and trends, as well as specific conditions and urgent problems of their countries or industries. Particular accent should be placed on the problem of youth employment and the need to rebuff resolutely attacks on workers' rights and trade union freedoms.

General Confederation of Trade Unions

Moscow, 22 August 2012