As we mark the tenth World Day for Decent Work, ETI's Beverley Hall reflects on what this means and how we can achieve it.
The Oxford online dictionary defines decent as: “Conforming with generally accepted standards of respectable or moral behaviour.” If used in a phrase, it recommends, “do the decent thing”, with the example to “take the most honourable or appropriate course of action, even if is not necessarily in one's own interests.”
I’d hope that we all aspire to be decent people and to treat others in a decent way, but when it comes to the world of work, there’s still a lot to be done.
The World Day for Decent Work (WDDW) serves as a valuable reminder that work shouldn’t just be about any old job, but a decent job.
Celebrated annually on 7 October, this day of decency reminds us that working people have the right to protection from exploitation, fair wages for a day’s work and safe workplaces that ensure we return home to our families at the end of a day’s labour.
The ITUC’s theme for this year’s WDDW is “Change the Rules”, highlighting the deeply entrenched injustice of the global economic system alongside shrinking democratic space and deteriorating labour rights in many countries.
Four pillars of decent work
As a concept, decent work has four pillars:
- Standards and rights at work
- Employment creation and enterprise development
- Social protection
- Social dialogue
The beating heart of all this is the freedom to associate and bargaining collectively to improve working lives and conditions.
If we are to have decent work then we must have social dialogue as a way of bringing together workers, their representatives and employers to find solutions to shared problems and improve working practices.
This can be applied at all levels of activity, from the global to the sectoral and right down to factory or site level, as evidenced by ETI’s work in South Africa’s agricultural sector and our programmes in Bangladesh garment factories.
Decent work in supply chains
Words, however noble, must be translated into action, and the International Labour Conference (ILC) highlights four key areas to help strengthen global efforts towards decent work:
- Promoting international labour standards
- Promoting inclusive and effective social dialogue
- Enhancing cross-border social dialogue
- Strengthening development cooperation to improve rights and conditions in global supply chains.
This WDDW, let’s do the decent thing and remind ourselves that here, there and everywhere, work is not just about any old job, but a decent job – not just any old work, but decent work.