Idag har jag hållit tal i plenum, som Sveriges arbetstagardelegat på ILOs arbetskonferens. Temat som ska adresseras i plenardiskussionen är de rapporter som ILOs generaldirektör har förelagt konferensen. Ur dessa har jag gjort ett urval av ämnen att belysa; fattigdomen som finns i hela världen, och som bidrar till att många människor tvingas acceptera arbete under sämre villkor än vad man kan kalla anständiga och att vi alla har ett ansvar att göra vad vi kan för att komma till rätta med detta, situationen för arbetare i Palestina och därtill det viktiga biståndsarbete som ILO genomför och som Sverige är en stor givare till.
I am very honoured to speak on behalf of the Swedish workers at the occasion of the ILO celebrating 100 years.
During these 100 years, a lot has changed in the world of work. The report Work for a brighter future, submitted to the international Labour conference for discussion, is a welcome contribution.
Poverty anywhere is a threat to prosperity everywhere, as stated in the Philadelphia declaration from 1944.
Still, poverty exists in all countries. According to the report, the gap between the wealthy and everyone else is widening. Many people are forced to accept work with conditions below decent standards, just to earn something for their living. Here we have challenges to pursue our joint efforts so that the concept of decent work becomes reality to all.
The first ILO convention is about limiting the working time to eight hours a day. According to statistics in the report, 36% of the global work force works excessive hours, which is defined as more than 48 hours per week. To a large extent that can be explained by too low wages, thus the need to work many hours in order to make ends meet. This is a striking example of how the subject of the very first convention is still relevant today, 100 years later, in countries all over the world.
According to ILO figures quoted in the report, 300 million workers live in extreme poverty and 2 billion people make their living in the informal sector. Those statistics clearly point at the fact that our labour markets are unequal. Many people are forced to accept work in the more shady layers of the labour market, often below the radar of labour inspections.
As we speak, people are experiencing forced labour and even modern slavery. Poor people are exploited ruthlessly. All workers should enjoy fundamental workers’ rights, an “adequate living wage” (with the language of the ILO Constitution from 1919), access to social protection, maximum limits on working hours and protection of safety and health at work.
All stakeholders must take responsibility for building a just future of work. We have possibilities to affect the development and we are responsible for our actions. We have to clearly stand up for respect for human dignity, for everybody’s right to decent work and to act accordingly.
We as workers are proud that our country, Sweden, is one of the top 20 contributors to ILO development cooperation funding. Sweden strongly supports ILO’s efforts to provide decent work and better living standards for women and men in developing countries. This is a good example of acting for human dignity and decent work in practice.
Regarding the situation for workers in the occupied Arab territories: In his report this year, the Director-General points out that there is a long list of suffering, deficits and failures, most of which are in one way or the other derived from the absence of peace and of a process leading towards peace. Continued conflict and tension will not serve the long-term needs of any side. Economic decline and high unemployment in the area should be possible to resolve with political will. Therefore it is encouraging that the report states that the ILO stands ready to support dialogue, coordination and cooperation, with a view to increasing Palestinian workers’ welfare and protection, and peace and stability for all.
Chair, as we now look back over 100 years, we see that those who started developing international labour standards believed in the power in trying to find solutions that can be accepted by all and that lead to a better situation for workers and societies. We have the honour to continue this work. Let us live up to this honourable responsibility and do the best out of our possibilites to promote a better world, based on social justice and decent work.