STATEMENT BY THE GENERAL CONFEDERATION OF TRADE UNIONS in Connection with the World Day for Decent Work 7 October 2020

Wednesday, September 30, 2020
On October 7, 2020, the international trade union movement will for the 13th time mark the World Day for Decent Work (WDDW). 
This year, the Day will be observed in an unprecedented international environment resulting from the coronavirus pandemic that has dealt a crushing blow on the economy, the labour relations and the social sphere all over the world, including countries where the GCTU affiliates operate.
The scale and depth of the resultant global crisis are truly catastrophic. According to WHO statistics, the pandemic has killed almost a million people, with over 32 million infected. Nearly 400 million jobs have been lost or are about to be shut down, while hundreds of millions of workers are plunged into extreme poverty. Altogether, 81 per cent of the world's wage earners are in distress. In the sphere of employment and income, the world is faced with an acute challenge unseen for many decades.
Given this, the world’s trade unions, in an unprecedented show of solidarity, demanded that the authorities and employers urgently solve the burning problems that, if further neglected, may cause new and graver complications. These include ensuring safe employment and decent income levels; strengthening social support and protection; building efficient and inclusive health systems; respecting the fundamental rights of workers and trade unions; enhancing real social dialogue; and compliance with international labour standards.
Simultaneously, the international trade union movement insists on taking measures to raise the social responsibility of business and government, increase investment in the vital sectors of the economy, particularly in public health, and strengthen the resilience of states to any similar shocks in the future.
Along with this, the unions adhere firmly to their fundamental position that no difficulties or problems associated with tackling the pandemic can be used as an excuse for infringement of social and labour rights or disregard of decent work principles.
The pandemic has laid bare all sores, distortions and problems of today’s globalisation model that the world trade unions have been fighting against for decades. Even in developed countries, the much-vaunted public health and social protection systems have failed the test by the coronavirus, and labour legislations and the tried-and-tested patterns of labour relations and social dialogue have not delivered.
In this context, the global unions have afresh raised the issue of radical revision of the world economic system, so that it could finally put people first. The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) has called for a new and ground-breaking social contract that could make a decisive contribution to the fight for overcoming the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. The conclusion of such a contract is expected to provide a new, universal system of securing labour rights and social protection of all employees.
Following on from this demand, the ITUC came up with the proposal to hold the upcoming World Day for Decent Work on October 7 under the central slogan "For a New Social Contract for Recovery and Resilience!"
While standing in solidarity with this initiative, the GCTU invites its affiliates to focus on issues of paramount importance for coping with the COVID-19 aftermath, such as: restoration of employment and creation of new jobs, protection of decent income levels, including those in the informal sector; ensuring occupational safety and health and, finally, providing adequately funded public health care.
Taking into account the coronavirus restrictions currently in force in the region’s states, as well as the specific conditions and the severity of socio-economic problems in each individual country or industry, we call on the affiliates of the General Confederation of Trade Unions to observe the WDDW-20 by holding various solidarity actions that do not imply large gatherings of people. These can be events in the form of statements and appeals, media campaigns, articles and interviews with union leaders and activists, discussion of COVID-19 issues at sessions of the tripartite commissions, virtual meetings, “Webinars” and other distance events.
In doing so, the affiliates should firmly insist that at all levels trade unions be equal partners in the development and implementation of plans to eliminate the effects of the pandemic, including through social dialogue. This will help ensure that no measures taken will violate decent work principles, and that plans to overcome current economic difficulties are not implemented at the cost of infringing upon the rights and interests of workers and their unions.
We are positive that the observance of the 13th WDDW in the region’s countries will demonstrate the commitment of the GCTU and its affiliates to the principles of solidarity in the struggle being waged by the international trade union movement to protect employees’ rights and interests in the process of eliminating the effects of the COVID-19 epidemic.