ITUC May Day statement: Job creation and the new social contract

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On the 1 May, workers across the world will be celebrating the achievements of nearly 200 years of trade union activity and putting forward their demands for decent work and sustainable development.

With more than 250 million jobs lost last year to the COVID-19 pandemic, and a further 130 million jobs at risk this year, the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) is calling on governments to make job creation a central objective in ensuring recovery and resilience. Full employment, enshrined in the constitution of the International Labour Organization (ILO), must remain a priority.

This requires in particular:

  • Stepping up public investment;
  • Investing in the public sector and creating public employment programmes;
  • Stimulating the creation of quality jobs;
  • Investing in education and training; and
  • Formalising informal work.

Many governments performed well in short-term responses to unemployment and reduced working hours early in the pandemic, and these examples need to be backed up by national employment plans and industry policies everywhere.

Five demands

These plans should be centred on the urgent need to tackle climate change with Just Transition, to expand health and care provision and to repair and build quality infrastructure.

Equitable taxation will be crucial to fund this effort. Any return to the failed policies of austerity would have disastrous consequences for working people and for society.

Job creation is at the core of the five demands of working people for a new social contract. The others demands are:

  • Rights, in particular the right to organise and collective bargaining;
  • Social Protection, including a global social protection fund for the least wealthy countries;
  • Equality, for women and for all groups that face discrimination;
  • Inclusion, especially the realisation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals and access for all to Covid-19 vaccines, tests and treatments.

Where these demands are acted upon, shared prosperity will replace poverty, democracy will be reinforced, and societies will flourish on the basis of sound economies. Failure to follow this course will further undermine trust in governments and betray current and future generations.

On May Day, trade unions around the world will be raising their voices for peace, rights, sustainability and social and economic justice, to create a world with people at its centre and no-one is left behind.

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