STATEMENT by the General Confederation of Trade Unions on the World Day for Decent Work 7 October 2021

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

On the 7th of October 2021, or on the closest days around it, trade unions of all countries will once again observe the annual World Day for Decent Work (WDDW). The event provides a unique opportunity for global workers to speak out, almost universally, simultaneously and under common slogans, in defence of workers' rights, for the elimination of poverty and improving the living standards, and against all forms of discrimination, inequality, and social exclusion.

Like the previous WDDW, this year’s Day will be held in a tense environment caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Its consequences continue to have a disastrous impact on the state of the economy and finance all over the world, including the countries of our region. The hardest hit are the spheres of labour and social policy.

The need to divert huge efforts and resources to combat the pandemic has led to a slow-down in production pace. This has resulted in a large number of social projects curtailed or frozen, with the living standards of most people steadily falling. Against this background, there have been frequent attempts by the governments to find a way out of the difficulties through neglecting workers’ interests, reducing their livelihoods, cutting down social benefits, worsening working environments, restricting the rights of trade unions and even removing them from direct involvement in socio-economic stabilisation programmes aiming to help the workers out of the plight.
The unions cannot put up with such development. Together with the entire world trade union movement, the GCTU is firmly confident that even the most evident problems or complications arising as a result of anti-COVID measures must not be solved by infringing on social and labour rights.
We cannot accept a situation where:
- employees’ livelihoods are cut down and labour standards ignored just for the sake of attracting foreign direct investment;
- labour cost volumes are diminished mainly at the expense of lowering the wage rates and social contributions;
- collective bargaining systems are undermined, including through their decentralisation.
This position was clearly outlined by the Executive Committee of the General Confederation of Trade Unions (GCTU) at its meeting held last autumn. The region’s trade unions have reiterated that the policy of a socially fair economic re recovery should be based on the aims and principles of decent work. This implies providing all employees with quality jobs and fair wages, reliable social protection, effective social dialogue, respect for trade union freedoms and human rights, and compliance with ILO conventions and recommendations.
Particularly devastating has been the effect of the pandemic on employment. Over the past 18 months, the global army of workers has sharply decreased, with more than 200 million jobs lost. According to ILO data, women, young people, persons with disabilities, and workers of small businesses and the informal economy suffered the most.
In this context, the International Trade Union Confederation has invited its affiliates to observe this year’s WDDW mainly under the slogan of fighting for the restoration and expansion of employment. The unions are called upon to demand that Governments, together with trade unions and employers, should immediately get down to restoring the lost jobs and creating new ones. Simultaneously, they must develop measures enabling a more efficient response to eventual reoccurrences of similar situations in the future. To underpin its demands, the ITUC has announced the launch of a global campaign to protect employment, whose target is to create 575 million new jobs by 2030 and legalise at least one billion jobs in the informal sector of the world economy.
The GCTU backs the ITUC initiative and calls on its member-organisations to proceed energetically with their struggles to remove the grave socio-economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic and protect social rights. In the course of these struggles special emphasis should be laid on the demand for guaranteed restoration of lost jobs. In all our countries and industries, the unions should strive to be equal and full-fledged partners in the development and implementation of economic recovery plans, including the efforts to restore jobs and create new ones.
We call on our affiliates to give support to the position of the GCTU and the international trade union movement by holding, on October 7, various solidarity activities and other events in support of decent work, with due regard for account the coronavirus restrictions in force in their countries.
General Confederation of Trade Unions
Moscow, 14 September 2021