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UN labour agency chief urges trade union to seize the moment to ensure decent work

UN labour agency chief urges trade union to seize the moment to ensure decent work

Members of a newly formed international trade union confederation should grasp the opportunity to partner with the United Nations and employers and workers groups to transform global goals for decent work into national reality, the UN labour agency chief said in Vienna today.

Speaking at the founding conference of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), Director-General of the International Labour Organization (ILO) Juan Somavia, said the new body’s constitution will “help make it a foundation for the new global social contract we direly need.”

“The frontline of the struggle to ensure that workers have a say in adapting to the new global realities, remains national, even local,” he said. “However, globalization has made the international framework of labour standards established by the ILO increasingly necessary.”

Mr. Somavia called on the confederation, representing 166 million workers, to develop a dialogue with international employers to support the ILO’s new Decent Work Country Programmes in a drive to cut poverty in half by 2015 through the creation of decent work, which encompasses rights at work, employment, social protection and social dialogue. He also said the ILO and ITUC should persist in their commitment to the right of workers to organize, especially in the informal economy.

“Organizing workers in the informal economy is a fundamental right,” he said. “In the developing world, organizing has a local development meaning, helping whole communities onto a path of increasing productivity, improving incomes, improving working conditions, better quality products and services.”

The ITUC is comprised of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions, the World Confederation of Labour, and eight national trade union organizations, and was formed to give workers a stronger voice in meeting the challenges of globalization and allow the union movement to remain a key player in an economic climate that is creating more losers and winners, he said.

“The political forces, the social development actors, the civil society voices, international organizations are all coming together around decent work for a decent life,” he added. “The movement and the moment have arrived.”