“Decent Work” Concept

The concept decent work was put on the agenda by Juan Somavia the director general of the Internationl Labour Organisation of the
UN (ILO) in 1999. It is based on the perception, that trade unions already stand for since their founding: Decent and productive work of
women and men in freedom, equality, security and dignity is the key to combating poverty and social prosperity.

How the ILO defines decent work:

Decent work is defined by the ILO as productive work of women and men in freedom, equality, security and dignity.
Decent work therefore means employment opportunities that:
- Is productive and secures a just income;
- Is connected with security at the work place and social security of the employees and their families;
- Offers prospects for personal development and advances social integration;
- Gives people the opportunity to voice their concerns, to organize in trade unions and works councils and have a say in the decisions, that are relevant for their lives;
- Guarantees everyone equal opportunities and equal treatment.

Work as basis

Work is one of the most important basis for prosperity, social justice and sustainable development. Work creates individual income
and thereby enables people to live a self-determined and independent life. Only people who have a sufficient income available can
cover his/her needs and demand consumer and capital goods – and thereby contribute to the creation of more jobs and social prosperity.
Therefore development and poverty reduction are not possible without work – BUT work at any cost is also not the right way:
a race to the bottom, in which countries undercut each other with ever lower minimum wages and ever worse labour and
environmental laws, does not lead to sustainable development and social prosperity.

Working conditions in South and North

Nevertheless the strategy of the race to the bottom has been followed quite consequently in the last twenty years of neoliberalism.
Developing countries compete with each other for being chosen as production site by multinational enterprises and attract with cheap work
force, who are exploited in lousy working conditions and without sufficient hours of work regulations: Nearly half of all 2.8 billion workers
worldwide earn not more than 2 US$ daily; every day one million of people incur an occupational accident, 5.500 of these end deadly!
In the constant search for the cheapest workers, the fewest workers’ rights and the lowest social and environmental conditions imposed
multinational enterprises shift their production and more and more also services (e.g. book keeping or call centers): First inside the EU, than to developing countries and eventually from one developing country to the other according to where conditions are “better”.