Millions rally across the globe for decent work

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More than two million people have been galvanised by a global day of action to demand decent jobs, decent working conditions and full respect for workers’ rights.

The fifth annual World Day for Decent Work on 7 October saw workers hold protests, rallies and events in more than 100 countries, but as this year’s day fell on a Sunday, events will continue throughout the month.

This year shone the spotlight on youth unemployment. With some countries seeing as many as 60 percent of their young people without work, ITUC General-Secretary Sharan Burrow described the situation as a ‘social and economic time-bomb’.

“This crisis, and the inability or unwillingness of governments to restore jobs and growth, is having a particularly brutal impact on young people,” she said.

 “Official figures show that 75 million young people are without jobs across the world, many millions more are trapped in informal or precarious work, and tens of millions of new job seekers have no prospect of finding work, or education and training to equip them for work in the future.”

Aside from youth unemployment, the event also included a number of groundbreaking actions. In Haiti, over 5000 union members rallied together in a historical event in the capital Port-au-Prince and today, Burrows and Burmese trade union leader Maung Maung, recently returned from 24 years exile in Thailand, will host Burma’s first-ever World Day for Decent Work.

The proliferation of precarious work was also a major focus, with a new report highlighting the effects of the expansion of agency work published to coincide with the ITUC’s day of action.

The Triangular Trap reveals that insecure work has increased exponentially in the wake of the global financial crisis, undermining not only workers’ pay but also their working conditions and their rights.

 The report, completed by IndustriALL Global Union – an international organisation founded in June and made up of unions representing 50 million workers in 140 countries across the manufacturing, mining and energy sectors – reveals that between 1996 and 2009 the number of agency and contract has doubled.

According to the International Confederation of Private Employment Agencies, in the same time period, the global revenues of businesses in the sector also increased from €83 billion in 1996 to €203 billion in 2009.

“Employment via agencies, labour brokers, dispatchers and contractors is being used to wholesale replace permanent, direct employment. Its use goes way beyond any legitimate need to fill genuinely temporary vacancies,” said Jyrki Raina, General Secretary of IndustriALL Global Union.