Discours de Sharan Burrow – 5ème Université des Gracques

Discours de Sharan Burrow, Secrétaire générale de la Confédération Internationale des Syndicats, lors de la 5ème Université des Gracques du samedi 21 novembre 2015 au Conseil Economique Social et Environnemental.

« Please accept my condolences – indeed it has been an awful week in the world. And while there are many factors underlying the division and distress around the globe one of the mitigating elements is the dignity of work. Education, understanding, inclusion certainly but the personal pride and opportunity from secure work is essential to the civilization we all desire.

However, tragically unemployment is still at historic levels and youth unemployment is now causing ever increasing social tension.

We have an informal economy that involves 40% of the global workforce and is undermining formal business and decent work.

And the dominant model of supply chains is based on low wages, precarious work and and even includes informal workers and workers in modern slavery.

No CEO wants forced labour in their supply chains where women like Rina cannot tell her twelve year old son if she will be home to cook him dinner or say goodnight as she is forced to work overtime sometimes until 10, 12, 4, in the morning with no food; just a coupon for a canteen that doesn’t open until six. Rina works in the Philippines and sews for Victoria’s Secret though I suspect the CEO has no knowledge of this.

And none of us want seafood on our tables that have been harvested by workers enslaved on ships for up to six months without sleeping quarters or sanitation yet workers for Citra Mina in Indonesia waters are forced to ensure just such conditions.

When companies employ directly less than 10% of the workforce they depend on and seek ever decreasing costs then precarious and unsafe work is inevitable.

Hence inequality is growing and is now accepted even by conservative economists as a global risk.

The global slump in demand is serious. And climate change is already causing loss off jobs through extreme weather events and changing seasons which is putting further stress on both economies and communities.

BUT we can make choices to ameliorate these risks; we can initiate reforms to ensure both social and economic sustainability. And the leadership of young people, all of you, will be essential as the future needs to be different.

There is some evidence of Government leadership;

– the French legislation to transition to clean energy and the ambition to invest to build a circular economy means investment and jobs;

– the French legislation to mandate due diligence to ensure corporate responsibilityin supply chains in line with the UN Guiding Principles on business and human rights supports decent work

– the G7 commitment to ensure rights in supply change is a start to eliminate decent work deficits

– the G20′ commitment to infrastructure investment, to target the participation of women and young people and to reduce the gap in labour income share will give people jobs, fair wages and hope

And the UN Agenda 30 with its sustainable development goals can set the world on a new trajectory.

But we can do much more with coordinated action.

The infrastructure needs are up to 90 trillion dollars in the next 3 decades but it must be green infrastructure and we need to cooperate on clean energy to build and create jobs.

Technology must be shared so new pools of intellectual property must be created.

Pension funds must be invested for the long term and we are demanding all companies have a carbon plan consistent with 2 degrees along with skills and plans for jobs.

As our workplaces become green waste centers what waste we can’t reuse sold for other processing will span new businesses.

We need to build new cooperatives to prevent atomization of work that alienates individuals and we see evidence of people doing just that.

We must look to our communities and ensure investment in the care economy – in childcare, aged care, health and education if people are to feel secure and we are to enable women to work in greater numbers

And we must include young people in our workplaces through paid apprenticeships and internships that lead to secure work. We must end the talk of insiders and outsiders and look to share work. Where jobs shift with technology or new locations or markets then portability of benefits and skills must provide security.

And we must look to new forms of social security as we value and pay for all work which requires us to look again at a basic income.

If we are to coexist with capitalism it cannot be the American model where it’s only survival of the fittest it must be the European social model reinvented over and over again – a model where people matter and there is a socialist base of organisation that means we care about each other.

The nature of work has changed through generations but our values must not. Bernard Spitz and I agree we need a new social contract and new institutions that support it including reform of the Bretton wood institutions.

It is time to deepen our democracies and protect democratic rights and freedoms not the reverse. In the end it comes down to the sons and daughters test – what kind of world do we want and thus what conditions of work and live do we want for our sons and daughters and thus the sons and daughters of all nations.

Thank you. »