“Economic frustration has spawned Trump and Brexit, warns UN labour chief”

Rise in zero-hours contracts, gig economy and unreliable pay have fed revolt, says ILO Director General Guy Ryder

3500The ILO wants to see minimum guaranteed hours, better social protections and stronger collective bargaining. 

Politicians around the world risk giving more traction to nationalistic movements if they continue to ignore the growing numbers of workers getting a “raw deal” from globalisation, the head of the UN’s labour agency has warned.

The Director General of the International Labour Organization (“ILO”), Guy Ryder, described Donald Trump’s victory in the US Presidential election and the UK’s vote for Brexit as “the revolt of the dispossessed” and gave a damning assessment of the establishment’s failure to offer an alternative to protectionism.

British-born Ryder said governments had been too quick to focus on headline figures that flattered the state of labour markets since the global financial crisis.  In so doing they had failed to scratch below the surface into a world of zero-hours contracts, underemployment and unreliable incomes, he said, as the ILO released research showing a rise in such non-standard forms of employment.

What do we mean when we talk about non-standard employment?

Here’s a useful breakdown: More about our latest report: https://t.co/pyW6O57lVK pic.twitter.com/9IbXCfLpJh

– ILO (@ilo) November 14, 2016

“The societies we all live in are distributing the benefits of globalisation and economic processes extraordinarily unfairly and people think they are getting a raw deal,” Ryder told the Guardian.

Speaking days after Trump stunned the world with his victory over Hillary Clinton, the ILO chief highlighted the common ground between the Republican candidate’s supporters and those who voted for the UK to leave the EU.

“It is the people who feel they haven’t benefited from globalisation and from the EU, from the way things are organised. This is the revolt of the dispossessed in that regard,” he said.

“And the point here is that feeling, that frustration, that disillusionment, I think is very much generated from people’s experience of work. Their exclusion from work, or their insertion in labour markets in conditions, which they find unacceptable.”

The ILO’s mandate centers’ on ensuring what it calls “decent work”.  But based on its own findings, the UN agency is facing an uphill battle. Casual forms of work more common in the developing world are being replicated in advanced economies – the “gig economy” – as on-demand services such as Uber and Deliveroo grow.

The ILO report published on Monday finds temporary work, agency work, precarious self-employment and other non-standard forms of employment have become more widespread.

On the ground, that translates into downward pressure on earnings, unreliable working hours and lower access to workplace benefits.

It comes back to the “raw deal” that Ryder talks about.

“If you count somebody on a zero-hours contract as being in work that helps the headline figures. If you look at their life you know that it is not the type of quality, decent work that I think we are all pursuing,” says Ryder, who has headed the ILO since 2012, having started his career at the TUC in Britain.

“People want to know how it can be different and the fact of the matter is, it can be different but it requires us to put the world of work and these tough labour market issues back on the table from which I think they have been unwisely removed by policymakers in recent years.”

His comments reflect the tendency among ministers to focus on record employment levels and falling unemployment, while largely ignoring that wages have stagnatedpeople have felt pressured into self-employment and millions say they want to work more hours than they can get.

Ryder believes the UK’s vote to leave the EU should be a wake-up call.

“If you take Brexit vote as a faithful reflection of the mood of people, it is not an expression of contentment and satisfaction with a full employment, ‘I’m doing well, I’m getting ahead’, workforce. The message is: ‘We are living this and it doesn’t feel very nice,’” he says.

Again, there are parallels with the US where ILO researchers found 10% of the workforce had irregular and on-call work schedules, with the lowest-income workers the hardest hit.

The agency wants old systems brought up to date to reflect today’s world of work.

Its recommendations for improving the quality of non-standard employment include plugging regulatory gaps to ensure workers are treated equally whatever type of contract they have. The ILO also wants to see minimum guaranteed hours, better social protection and stronger collective bargaining. That includes expanding unions to represent the growing number of workers in non-standard forms of employment.

Ryder also stresses the need for more equal treatment of migrant workers. “If you take seriously the enforcement of minimum conditions, if you take seriously the notion of equal treatment … you disarm and detoxify the labour market worries about undercutting local workers and at the same time you do the right thing by migrant workers.”

The ILO director concedes his agency is asking for a lot. But failure to act will leave voters looking to the “wrong place” for solutions, he says. That warning echoes growing concerns that the nationalist sentiment that boosted Trump will also come to the fore at upcoming votes in Italy, France, the Netherlands and Germany.

“In generic terms, I think people think they have a binary choice in life at the moment,” says Ryder. The options were “more of the same” with an acceptance that inequality would rise further or “defensive, protectionist, nationalistic” movements rejecting the status quo.

“We have to construct something which is different from both of those two poles and to demonstrate, or to convince people, that there are different ways. That we can manage our labour markets,” he says.

“But middle ground between the two binary options requires the hard work of doing some fairly hard engineering of labour markets.”

Furthermore, the establishment must work hard to regain people’s trust, he adds. “People are not necessarily looking to the established institutions or political parties or international organisations, of which I include the ILO, in the belief that we have credible responses. So we have to up our game in that regard.”

Ryder has just been given the backing of his agency to do just that. Last week the director general was re-elected for a second term with support from all three branches of the tripartite agency: workers’ representatives, employers and governments.

Alongside curbing the rise in insecure jobs and the ILO’s work on tackling child labour and forced labour, Ryder is also pushing the agency to anticipate future trends.

He believes the big drivers of change are technology, globalisation, demographics and the need to align jobs and job creation with fighting climate change. All are being explored under a “future of work” programme marking the ILO’s centenary in 2019.

So for an agency that has been through the second world war, the cold war, the fall of communism and the rise of globalisation, the focus now shifts to robots, global warming and the gig economy. But the motivation remains the same and as the world digests the latest political shock, it is perhaps unsurprising that Ryder highlights the ILO’s roots.

“Our historic mandate, and it came after the First World War, is based on the notion that if you want to preserve peace and stability in the world, you have to promote social justice and that has to begin in the world of work.”

Source:  theguradian









“Decent work and social justice – the APRM must bring a change in mindset”


Ms Tomoko Nishimoto, Assistant Director-General and Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific

We all work; it is one of the few experiences shared by all humanity. But it is a mistake to believe that the importance of work lies just in providing material benefits. Work should offer dignity and importance, a chance to make a contribution to society. But, too often, it does not.

In a few days Government ministers, policy makers, employers and workers representatives will meet to debate some of the key issues currently affecting ordinary working people in our region.

The ILO’s Asia and the Pacific Regional Meeting (APRM) only takes place every four years. It will bring together more than 45 countries from Asia, the Pacific and the Arab states, offering a rare opportunity for the key actors shaping employment policy and practice to get together and co-ordinate their actions.

They are meeting at a time of great global uncertainty. The old economic dogma, that ‘a rising tide raises all boats’ is now widely discredited. Even in Asia Pacific – where economic growth has lifted hundreds of millions of people out of absolute poverty – it is widely accepted that unguided growth alone has not been enough. Inequality and vulnerable employment remain doggedly persistent in the region and in some places are getting worse.

This should be a concern for us all. The news headlines remind us almost every day of what happens when ordinary people feel electorally and economically disenfranchised, although 97 years ago the ILO’s Constitution put it just as succinctly as any newspaper editor; “poverty anywhere is a threat to prosperity everywhere”.

I believe the international policy debate is now shifting to reflect this. Inclusivity and sustainability are watchwords for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which UN member states endorsed just over a year ago. What’s more, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) give specific attention to the role of Decent Work; it is the focus of SDG 8 and the principles run through many of the other 16 goals and their targets.

This shift in emphasis, from the quantitative to the qualitative, creates a need for fresh ideas that can shape a growth path that is inclusive and job-rich, rather than fostering inequality, uncertainty, and even fear.

But, to make this shift we must also change our mindsets and our definition of progress. We must position growth as a driver of social justice, not as an end in itself.

“The future we get will be shaped by the policies we adapt and the strategies we implement at meetings such as this”

The APRM offers a timely opportunity to do just that.

Our keynote debate will focus on inclusive growth and social justice. It will look at how we can shape the riptide of globalization – rather than be shaped by it – so that it delivers the equality and social justice we need.

Plenary debates will look at the trends and challenges we face and discuss the policies needed to create decent jobs and foster equity. They will also highlight the crucial role of social dialogue; it is no exaggeration to say that unless we embed social dialogue in our political and social cultures none of our goals will be achievable.

Another session will be devoted to skills and training. This is vital. Skills open doors to brighter futures, in particular for young people and groups who are often marginalized in development – women, indigenous peoples, those with disabilities. Skills and training allow new technology to create jobs. They form foundations which employers can use to create innovative, successful businesses.

Delegates will have the chance to discuss migration, in particular the importance of a fair, correctly regulated recruitment process.

There will also be a special session on the role of multinational enterprises (MNCs) and their interaction with social policies in the region, in the context of the ILO’s Tripartite Declaration of Principles on MNCs.

We will also review the results of the Asia Pacific Decent Work Decade (2006-16), through which the ILO member States in this region committed to promoting decent work for all their people. Our analysis shows that good progress was made, but that the Decade should be regarded as a foundation, not a conclusion of this process.

In particular more needs to be done to promote internationally-recognized labour standards, stronger labour market institutions, fair labour migration, social protection and gender equality. We need to work harder on the transition from informal to formal employment, and on the effects of climate change.

So the APRM must act as a call for action, leading to solid policies.

Ultimately, whether Asia Pacific finds a future that is inclusive and defined by decent work will be a political decision. The future we get will be shaped by the policies we adopt and the strategies we implement at meetings such as this.

Source: ILO Newsroom – Decent work and social justice – the APRM must bring a change in mindset 

Pacific Workers Unions on the move

samoaThe Minister of Commerce, Industry and Labour, Lautafi Fio Purcell, opened a key training involving workers’ Union representatives from the region at Orator Hotel, Apia Samoa on Monday.

The three-day meeting is being organised by the International Labour Organization (I.L.O) Office and the Samoa Workers Congress. “I encourage committing and increasing the promotion of youth and women in union activities,” said Minister Lautafi.  “I encourage you to continue the momentum and commitment in order to be truly active in strengthening the capacities in unions and the Pacific, and that the workers are well represented, their rights are respected and their voices are heard.”

The training is designed to strengthened capacities of the unions in Pacific by promoting freedom of association and decent work through effective organizing strategies and leadership skills. This will contribute to:

  • Increased understanding of the re-established Samoa Workers Congress to effectively make contributions to policy reform agenda of the social partners
  • Strengthen trade union structures through the promotion of freedom of association and organizing campaigns
  • Enhance the capacities of union to develop negotiators and educators  as leaders to promote collective bargaining, decent work and foster communication exchange and networking amongst unions for organizing and actions for decent work in Pacific  The training is being attended by young union activists and leaders in selected countries of the Pacific region – members of National Executive committee /Women’s Committee of national or industrial unions, and staff involved in organising and education.

Participants are from unions in Cook Islands, Fiji, Tonga, PNG, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu.

The training is facilitated by the I.L.O Workers Specialist; Jotika Sushil Gounder from Regional Office for Asia Pacific (ROAP) in Bangkok, with assistance from I.L.O National Coordinator for Samoa; Tomasi Peni, and the president of Samoa Workers Congress; Gatoloai Tilianamua Afamasaga.


By Natasha Schmidt


“Hotel Housekeepers Stand Up Around the World for Rights, Recognition and Safe Work in Global Action Week”


Demonstration organized by FSPM in Bandung, Indonesia, on November 2nd

Hotel housekeepers and their unions in 34 countries and over 50 cities around the world held a variety of actions to highlight their fight for rights, recognition and better working conditions during the IUF’s 3rd Hotel Housekeepers Global Week of Action from October 31 to November 6. Many of the actions this year highlighted the central importance of preventing sexual harassment on the job, a constant threat with which housekeepers have to contend.  The varied actions included workshops and seminars with experts and awareness-raising meetings with workers, management and the public, including leaf letting at airports. Unions also called for specific language in collective agreements on protecting workers from sexual harassment.


Hotel housekeepers at Nyborg Strand Hotel (Denmark) show support to the Global Week of Action

Everywhere, unions demanded improved working conditions, greater job security and more respect for housekeepers at the workplace. Unions also made use of the Global Week of Action to show to workers the important results of the ongoing campaign in bringing about concrete improvements in working conditions and as an organizing tool for building bargaining power in hotels

Source:  IUF News Report

UK Employment Tribunal: ‘self-employed’ Uber drivers are workers, with rights








The London Employment Tribunal, in a decision with major implications for the ‘gig economy’, has ruled that Uber drivers are workers, not ‘self-employed’, and as workers they have enforceable rights, including a guaranteed minimum wage, paid breaks, and holiday pay.  The decision came in response to two test cases brought on behalf of drivers by the IUF-Affiliated GMB in June.

The union’s legal director described the decision as a victory ‘that will have a hugely positive impact on over 30,000 drivers in London and across England and Wales and for thousands more in other industries where bogus self-employment is rife’.

Swaziland: Sugar Workers Pay the Cost of King Mswati’s Greed

Thousands of workers in Swaziland’s sugar industry, which exports hundreds of thousands of tonnes of sugar to Europe and within Africa and is dominated by Swazi King Mswati III, face gruelling and unhealthy working conditions, poverty wages and violent suppression of effort to organise unions according to a new ITUC Report, King Mswati’s Gold released late last month.


The report includes widespread evidence of forced evictions of rural communities to make way for sugarcane plantations, deaths and herbicide-caused illness in the fields, child labour, dismissals and harassment of union representatives, and work schedules of up to 60 hours per week without overtime. Women who become pregnant are excluded from the industry, often resulting in abject poverty.

King Mswati’s autocratic rule over the country means that it has one of the worst global reputations for repression of workers’ rights while the King himself and a small coterie around him amass increasing wealth in one of the most impoverished countries in the world. Mswati is believed to be worth around US$200 million, while sugar cane workers earn as little as $5.30 per day.

While many sugarcane producers are certified under the “Fairtrade” system, the ITUC research which was done with the help of local researchers, found a series of serious violations of Fairtrade’s Small Producer Organisation standards, and weaknesses in the standards themselves and the private inspection systems which are supposed to ensure compliance. The ITUC is in discussion with Fairtrade about how it should change the system to ensure that the trade is indeed fair.

Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary said, “Swaziland’s autocratic ruling elite are ripping off their own people, using laws on sedition, subversion and anti-terrorism to suppress workers. King Mswati himself keeps a firm grip on the sugar sector, not for the benefit of the people but just to increase his personal wealth. This example of egregious greed underlines that there is no substitute for the international rule of law in supply chains, and that political and economic pressure from the European Union and Swaziland’s African trading partners are needed to ensure that the whole country can benefit from the wealth of the sugar sector.”

World Day for Decent Work & FTUC $4 National Minimum Wage Campaign



World Day for Decent Work & $4 National Minimum Wage Campaign

On 7th October of every year since 2008 the International Trades Union Congress has been organising the World Day for Decent Work (“WDDW”). It is a day for mobilisation for all trade unions across the globe, from Fiji in the east to Hawaii in the west.  Every year there are hundreds of activities in hundred countries, carried out by millions of people around the globe and on 8th October 2016 the Fiji Trades Union Congress organised the WDDW simultaneously with their $4 National Minimum Wage Campaign with the theme “End Corporate Greed & Decent Work Means Decent Pay”.  The activities were carried out by the affiliated union members across the country from the old capital of Levuka to the capital city of Suva.  Members of the affiliated unions took to the street not only to seek support from the public on the FTUC petition to the government on the $4 National Minimum Wage campaign but also to enlighten the public on worker’s rights, decent work and decent pay.

The day’s activity included setting up information centers at the seven various locations (Suva, Lautoka, Nadi, Nausori, Labasa and Levuka) with the distribution of flyers, posters, book marks and brochure to members of the public.  The members of the public were also informed and explained on the meaning of decent work which involves favourable conditions for work that is productive and delivers a justifiable wage, it also means security in the workplace and social protection for families and equal opportunity and treatment for all women and men.

As stressed in our press release of 8th October the current minimum wage of $2.32 must be reviewed to at least $4 an hour.  The Current Minimum Wage is grossly insufficient and well below the poverty line.  This actually condemns workers to extreme poverty and does nothing to uplift human dignity.  Workers merely want an increase of $13.44 a day and this was expressed in the FTUC campaign which was supported by the International Labour Organisation.  The campaign which began at 9am and ended at 1pm saw volunteers and union members alike joined hands in expressing the need to raise the national minimum wage by wearing a $4 minimum wage t-shirt.  The outreach began from within the city area, though to the markets, bus station and back road where in some towns included residential properties.  The campaign was conducted simultaneously throughout the country and at the end of the day saw a total collection of 7,776 signatures with more signed petitions still to be collected by the FTUC.

Information Centre, Labasa Fiji.

Information Centre, Labasa Fiji.

Labasa Team , with Satoshi Sasaki (Officer in Charge ILO Office for Pacific Island Countries)
Labasa Team , with Satoshi Sasaki
(Officer in Charge
ILO Office for Pacific Island Countries)


Nausori, Fiji, Team in Action
Nausori Team in Action






Fiji Trades Union Congress in Collaboration with International Labour Organisation and all workers around the world mark the “World Day for Decent Work”. Decent work means productive work in which rights are protected, which generates an adequate income, with adequate social protection. It also means sufficient work, in the sense that all should have full access to income-earning opportunities. It marks the high road to economic and social development, a road in which employment, income and social protection can be achieved without compromising workers rights and social standards. Decent work promotes human dignity. In doing so it is based on the ILO Declaration of Fundermental Principles and Rights at Work. The Declaration is a pledge by all member states to respect, promote and realize in good faith the principles and rights relating to:

 Freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaiining
 The elimination of all forms of forced or compulsory labour
 The effective abolition of child labour
 The elimination of discrimination in respect of employment and occupation

The recently adopted 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) by 193 UN Member States pledges to build a better and just world for all. Goal number 1: is to “End poverty in all its forms everywhere.” Goal Number 8: is “to promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all.”

Fiji is a member of the UN and ILO and is a party to the Declaration and the SDG’s. The Government has an obligation to deliver on both the eradication of poverty and decent work for all. The World Day for Decent Work must serve as a reminder to all including Government of the commitment we have made to the International Community. A just minimum wage is definitely a good start to eradicating poverty and working towards achieving decent work for all. While employment creation is important, the quality of employment created is even more important. Jobs that don’t provide financial security and dignity at work are not worth the effort. Decent Work is achievable only when we have a strong mechanism for social dialogue by Government, Employers and Workers working together in good faith. Tripartite consultations and collective bargaining promotes a positive labour-management relations enviroment which promotes change, innovation and competitiveness.

The Current Minimum Wage is grossly insufficient and well below the poverty line. This actually condems workers to extreme poverty and does nothing to uplift human dignity. The National Employment Scheme (NEC) undermines the minimum wage to $60 a week, without any other benefits. While this scheme is to create some sort of employment for young people, it actually promotes extreme exploitation of workers and is being abused by some employers. Clearly wage rates for workers are in a “race to the bottom.” This trend needs to be reversed if we are at all serious about Decent Work and eradication of poverty.

The current minimum wage of $2.32 must be reviewed upwards to at least $4 an hour. Workers merely want an increase of $13.44 a day. We note that the Parliament has voted themselves an increase of $200 to $400 a day in allowances alone. We also note that this is the second increase for Palimentarians since 2014 when all salaries were raise substanially, ranging from 60% to 300%. In addition to this, Permanent Secretaries and Chief Executive Officers of all Government owned Enterprises received massive increases in their salaries and other benefits, in some cases these increases have range from a 100% to 600%. Workers in the meantime received a 32 cents increase an hour in mimimum wage from $2 to $2.32 cents an hour. Civil servants and most workers in the private sectors have had no wage adjustment in the past six to eight years. This is grossly unfair to say the least. The poorest in our society get nothing or peanuts while those at the top award themselves huge increases. There is no justification for such conduct on part of Government and this is an opportune time for Government to act in addressing the inequlity in our society. The gap between the rich and the poor has increased and is evident in Fiji today.

FTUC will be marking the day with a campaign urging the public to sign its petition to Government to demand justice and a fair minimum wage. I invite the public to join the FTUC in its campaign for a decent wage and addressing the serious issue of poverty and inequality in Fiji.

ILO- ACTRAV/FTUC – National Minimum Wage and National Consultation Workshops

The National Minimum Wage and National Consultation Workshops were conducted in five major centers throughout Fiji namely, Nadi, Levuka, Labasa, Lautoka and concluding its final consultation in its capital city Suva on 4th October 2016. These consultations were held between 26th August till 4th October 2016.

The objectives of the consultations were to:

• update on labour law reform
• identify workers issues on industries in regards to current work conditions and practice
• focus on organising and update on collective bargaining
• campaign on FTUC $4 National Minimum Wage
• current status and plans for field activity on World Day for Decent Work which is to be held on 8th October 2016 throughout Fiji

In each of the consultation workshops the participants were divided and allocated into work groups and assigned practical exercises.

The objective of the group excersies were to educate and increase participants understanding of the ERP 2007, this was done through referencing of the Employment Relations Promulgations. The participants also identified and listed current issues and challenges faced by them at their work place in their different organisations and industries.

In one of these consultations Fiji Trades Union Congress National Secretary Mr Secretary Felix Anthony provided a brief background to the participants on how Employment Relations Promulgation came into effect. He also spoke on the Tripartite Agreement which involves representative from the Government, Employers and Workers. In addition he addressed and spoke on the level of intervention and authority from the International labour organization (ILO). The recent amendment of the employment relations promulgation 4/2015 and 11/2016, International Labour Organization standards, convention 87 – freedom of association and protection of the right to organize convention and convention 98 – right to organize and collective bargaining convention. Mr Anthony also spoke on the Decrees particularly the Essential National Industries (Employment) Decree 2011 and changes associated with the decree, he stressed that the labour reforms and review processes are done to strengthen enforcement. In conclusion Mr. Anthony strongly emphasized on the need to be continuously organising the organized and unorganized and also the need to follow up on the members. He shared his message on the need to be 100% organized and encouraging union engagement in Fiji and at the work place.

Ms Moushmi Naicker during the consultation workshop in Suva emphasized to the participants their role as union members and as workers not to only support this campaign but create extensive awareness within their workplace, through colleagues, friends and families the important of the campaign. She also added that “Decent work means a Decent Pay”.

The Consultations throughout the country ended on a high note with members being able to understand and know their rights and workers. Being able to reference to the ERP and they were able to identify unfair work practices and more importantly it created awareness on their legal right.


Gender pay gap persists at 16 per cent as Australia marks Equal Pay Day

8th September 2016 marks Equal Pay Day in Australia—which should probably be renamed Unequal Pay Day. The wages gap between men and women is still a stubbornly high 16.2 per cent. The occasion coincides with John Howard’s much criticised remarks to the Press Club that women will never achieve equal representation in Parliament because ‘they play a significantly greater part of fulfilling the caring role in our communities, which inevitably places some limits on their capacity’. The ACTU has long been campaigning for equal pay and equal rights for women.