By: Sylvester Choloplay
Monrovia – The Director-General of the International Labor Organization Mr. Gilbert F. Houngbo is calling on governments and employers to consider prioritizing social justice for all and for policies and actions of labor laws to be human-centered.
He said this will allow people to pursue both their material well-being and their spiritual development in conditions of freedom and dignity, economic security and equal opportunity.
He made the remarks on program marking this year’s International Labor Day celebration globally.
International Labor Day falls on May 1 and is meant to celebrate the contributions of workers, promote their rights, and commemorate the labor movement.
Though Mr. Houngbo said the approach is not new, it was set out and agreed in the aftermath of World War Two, when the ILO’s international membership signed the 1944 Declaration of Philadelphia.
“This visionary document set out guiding principles for our economic and social systems, that they should not be turned exclusively to hitting specific growth rates or other statistical targets, but to address human needs and aspirations.
The ILO’s Director General said this means focusing on inequality, poverty alleviation and core social protection and that the most effective way to do this is by providing quality jobs so that people can support themselves and build their own futures.
Mr. Houngbo disclosed that focusing on the abovementioned factors would help to realistically address the long-term structural transformations, ensure creation of new technology and supports employment, pro-actively face the challenges of climate change and ensure people get jobs, skills training and transition support necessary for workers and businesses to benefit from the new low-carbon era.
He furthered that the measure will help in treating demographic changes as a ‘dividend’ rather than a problem, with supporting action on skills, migration and social protection, to create more cohesive and resilient societies.
According to the ILO boss there is a need to reassess and refashion the architecture of social and economic systems, so that they support this change of course towards social justice, rather than continuing to channel into a policy ‘doom loop’ of inequality and instability.
“We must reinvigorate labor institutions and organizations so that social dialogue is effective and vigorous. We must review laws and regulations affecting the world of work, so that they are relevant and up-to-date and able to protect workers and support sustainable businesses.” Houngbo added.
To make all this happen, we need to recommit to international cooperation and solidarity. We must enhance our efforts and create greater policy coherence, particularly within the multilateral system, as the United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres calls it.
This is why we need a Global Coalition for Social Justice. This Coalition will create a platform to bring together a broad range of international bodies and stakeholders. It will position social justice as the keystone of the global recovery, so that it is prioritized in national, regional and global policies and actions. In sum, it will ensure that our future is human-centered”, Mr. Houngbo revealed in a press release.
Mr. Houngbo further urged workers across the world to take this opportunity and move forward to build the equitable and resilient societies that can underpin lasting peace and social justice.
Also, the ILO’s Director-General said after three years of the COVID-19 crisis, followed by inflation, conflict, and food and fuel supply shocks, there is a need for strong social justice laws with the promises of renewal made during the pandemic, of ‘building back better’, which according to him have so far not been delivered for the great majority of workers worldwide.
‘’Globally, real wages have fallen, poverty is rising, and inequality seems more entrenched than ever. Enterprises have been hard hit. Many could not cope with the cumulative effects of recent unexpected events. Small and micro-enterprises were particularly affected, and many have ceased operations.” He mentioned.
Mr. Houngbo noted “People feel that the sacrifices they made to get through COVID-19 have not been recognized, let alone rewarded. Their voices are not being heard clearly enough. This, combined with a perceived lack of opportunities, has created a disturbing level of mistrust.”
It doesn’t have to be like this. We are still the masters of our fate. But if we are to shape a new, more stable and equitable world, we must choose a different path. One that prioritizes social justice”, the ILO’s Director-General narrated through a press release.