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ILO puts people first in future of work report

A Universal Labour Guarantee, social protection from birth to old age and an entitlement to lifelong learning are among ten recommendations made by the ILO’s Global Commission on the Future of Work.

The commission, which was set up in October 2017, is co-chaired by South African president, Cyril Ramaphosa, and Swedish Prime Minister, Stefan Löfven, two former leaders of trade unions affiliated to IndustriALL Global Union. 

“Countless opportunities lie ahead to improve the quality of working lives, expand choice, close the gender gap, reverse the damages wreaked by global inequality. Yet none of this will happen by itself. Without decisive action we will be sleepwalking into a world that widens existing inequalities and uncertainties,” the report stresses. 

The “Work for a brighter future” report arrives at a tumultuous time as digitization, automation and robotics transform the world of work. It proposes a human-in-command approach to artificial intelligence and calls for greater investment in people’s capabilities, the institutions of work, and decent sustainable work. 

“Workers need to upskill throughout their lives. Governments, workers, employers and educational institutions have to build a lifelong learning system. This report provides concrete ways of doing it,” said the South African president at the launch ceremony. 

Among the ten recommendations are: 

  • A universal labour guarantee that protects fundamental workers’ rights, an adequate living wage, limits on hours of work and safe and healthy workplaces.
  • Guaranteed social protection from birth to old age that supports people’s needs over the life cycle.
  • A universal entitlement to lifelong learning that enables people to skill, reskill and upskill.
  • Managing technological change to boost decent work, including an international governance system for digital labour platforms.
  • Greater investments in the care, green and rural economies.
  • A transformative and measurable agenda for gender equality.
  • Reshaping business incentives to encourage long-term investments.

The report calls on governments to ensure collective representation of workers and employers through social dialogue as a public good, actively promoted through public policies. “All workers must enjoy freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining, with the State as the guarantor of those rights,” it states. 

“This is a strong report that provides the foundations to build a platform for a just and equitable world of work based on social dialogue, investment in people, social protections and protecting fundamental workers’ rights,” said Valter Sanches, IndustriALL’s general secretary. 

“We call on all of our affiliates to take part in discussions of the report, and to put pressure on their governments to adopt its recommendations through public policies, legislation, and regulation. We expect governments and employers to fully support the report’s recommendations, given that they were developed in a consensus process that included representatives of the social partners.” 


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