Brussels, 6 October – On the eve of the World Day for Decent Work* taking place worldwide on 7 October, a new report shows that social protection can hold solutions to eradicate poverty, vulnerability and inequality, but to become a reality it requires a strong and organised civil society.
Launched yesterday at an event in the European Parliament in Brussels, the Global Network’s² 2011 report entitled “Realising decent work and social protection for all: How civil society organisations are creating change” highlights the role that civil society organisations in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East are playing in claiming, defending and extending the right to social protection for all workers .
Despite some progress over the past decades, 1.44 billion people are still living on less than US$1.25 a day and around 1.75 billion people experience multi-dimensional poverty, with deprivations in health, economic opportunities and living standards. At the same time, around 75% of people worldwide do not have access to adequate social security.³
National Social Protection Floors are Feasible
The report highlights how social protection has played a significant role during the crisis in some countries by protecting the poor and other vulnerable people. It works by helping to stabilise demand for goods and services, and by empowering people to seize economic opportunities. But even beyond the crisis, nationally-shaped social protection floors have proven to be an effective tool for reducing poverty and inequality, as well as boosting inclusive and sustainable economic growth.
As Reynaldo Rasing, Executive Director of LEARN and Regional Coordinator for Global Network in Asia, explains: “From Pakistan, Bangladesh and India to Indonesia, Cambodia and the Philippines, the need for universal social security to cover the vast majority of working people in the informal sectors is one of the most important work for the labor movement today.”
He continued: “The road towards Decent Work for all will be long and difficult for workers in Asia, a region which is home to millions of informal and precarious workers. But step by step, and through coordinated activism, changes are possible. For example, the adoption of the ILO Convention for Domestic Workers (C189)4 was made possible also thanks to the coordinated work of many trade unions, social movements, civil society groups and local and regional domestic workers’ unions in the Asian region who have become integrated and coordinated towards a collective, international and strategic advocacy.”
Vital Role of Civil Society Organisations
Keith Sonnet, Chair of the Global Network and Deputy General Secretary of UNISON stated: “Social security is a human right. This report shows the vital role that civil society organisations and workers’ movements, like the organisations in the Global Network, play to demand human, social and economic rights for all, including the right of everyone to a basic level of social protection.”
Civil society organisations play a crucial multidimensional role in raising awareness among workers of their rights so that they can claim and exercise them, organising and giving a voice to workers and other vulnerable groups in their call for equity and decent livelihoods, and empowering them to develop a strong collective voice and to take action to create policy, legislative, social and practical change. In addition, they act as watchdogs in holding governments and the international community to account when they fail to implement the legislation, policies and funding to which they have committed.
1 The four strategic pillars of the Decent Work agenda are access to freely chosen employment; fundamental principles and rights at work and international labour standards and freedom from discrimination; social protection and social security; social dialogue. More information: http://www.ilo.org/global/topics/decent-work/lang–en/index.htm
² The Global Network is an alliance of labour movement organisations responding to the new challenges of globalisation within the framework of the Decent Work Agenda. It was established in 2001 by SOLIDAR and the International Federation of Workers’ Education Associations (IFWEA). For more information: http://www.theglobalnetwork.net
³ All figures taken from speech of Ms Michelle Bachelet, Chairperson of the Social Protection Floor Advisory Group and Executive Director of UN Women, March 2011: http://www.ilo.org/global/about-the-ilo/press-and-media-centre/news/WCMS_153363/lang–en/index.htm
4 The ILO Convention for Domestic Workers (C189) was adopted by the International Labour Conference in June 2011. For more information: http://www.ilo.org/ilolex/cgi-lex/convde.pl?C189
• Read the full report Realising decent work and social protection for all: How civil society organisations are creating change.
Also available in Spanish.
Executive Summary available in French and Arabic.
• SOLIDAR is a European Network of 56 social justice NGOs which coordinates the Global Network. Find out more: http://www.solidar.org
Other background information
• Together with the European Working Group on Decent Work and Social Protection in Development Cooperation, SOLIDAR advocates for social protection to become a priority in EU development policy.
• With this aim, two action days on social protection have been organised at the European Parliament. Links to videos: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ucyMOvGov0 and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zmE471d_hyc
For a copy of the Report, please visit:
For the official media release, please follow this link: