The response to the Covid-19 pandemic is the greatest act of global human solidarity the world has seen, as people give up civic rights and risked livelihoods to save lives. Yet, under the cover of measures to tackle the coronavirus pandemic, many countries are advancing their anti-workers’-rights agenda.
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The Covid-19 pandemic has once again exposed the
fragility of global supply chains and the enormous risks
to human and labour rights in a highly interconnected
global economy that is not governed by the rule of
With the global drop in demand as a result of the
pandemic, many companies have resorted to abruptly
ending the procurement of goods and services and
even to defaulting on prior commitments made – with
the consequence of a disastrous impact for workers
in global supply chains. In Bangladesh, more than half
of the garment suppliers reported that they had their
in-process or completed production cancelled, which
has led to massive job losses and workers getting
furloughed. More than 98.1% of buyers refused to
contribute to the cost of paying the partial wages to
furloughed workers required under national law. 72.4%
of furloughed workers were sent home without pay.
Read this ITUC Report
We do not need a Universal Basic Income, but public services and guaranteed minimum incomes. If we can introduce these in a democratic and participatory way, we can work on social commons:
Read the article by Francine Mestrum
The breakdown of the social contract has been exposed in the 2020 ITUC Global Rights Index with violations of workers’ rights at a seven-year high.
This trend, by governments and employers, to restrict the rights of workers through limiting collective bargaining, disrupting the right to strike, and excluding workers from unions, has been made worse by a rise in the number of countries that impede the registration of unions.
An increase in the number of countries that deny or constrain freedom of speech shows the fragility of democracies while the number of countries restricting access to justice has remained unacceptably high at last year’s levels.
A new trend identified in 2020 shows a number of scandals over government surveillance of trade union leaders in an attempt to instill fear and put pressure on independent unions and their members.
Despite decades of protests against them, the IMF and World Bank continue to force the same discredited neoliberal policies on poor governments and their people. Countries in economic distress desperately need alternative sources of aid that won’t demand adherence to free-market orthodoxy.
Read the article by Lara Merling
The silver lining in the COVID-19 crisis is, undoubtedly, the fact that there are many lessons to learn.
In the past, it was sometimes hard to convince people of the need for social protection. Too often, it is seen as paternalistic, reformist and old-fashioned. Today, people want to be free and decide for themselves. Or, solidarity cannot exist in a capitalist system, so we first have to get rid of capitalism.
Let me give you this quote of Chris Hani, former chairman of the South-African Communist Party:
“Socialism is not about big concepts or heavy theory. Socialism is about decent shelter for those who are homeless. It is about water for those who have no safe drinking water. It is about health care. It is about a life of dignity for the old. It is about overcoming the huge divide between urban and rural areas. It is about a decent education for all our people. Socialism is about rolling back the tyranny of the markets. As long as the economy is dominated by an unelected, privileged few, the case for socialism will exist.” Lees verder
This article of Dr Wolfgang Pape is about Taiwan, but we invite you to read it as a global proposal in times of growing unilateralism. Shall we go back to multilateralism or instead consider omnilateralism?
“A pandemic was announced by the WHO on March 11, 2020, describing the global spread of the COVID-19 virus. However, as early as the beginning of December last year, health officers in Taipei were checking passengers from Wuhan for symptoms before they left their plane. As a result, by the end of December 2019, the WHO had already received from Taipei an early warning about the risk of this new coronavirus.
However, the WHO could not officially share this warning with its members. Precious time to prepare for prevention worldwide was lost. Why? In simple terms, because the alert came from a society that is not an official member of the WHO nor its parent body, the UN. As its name suggests, the United Nations accepts only “nations” as its formal members.”
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Millions of workers in sectors shutdown by the government, and millions more in sectors outside of the public sector but not identified as ‘key’ by the government are likely to have been impacted by the economic slowdown. Without government support, these workers’ jobs and livelihoods are at risk. But while many are protected under the government’s job retention and self-employed income protection schemes, some are at high risk of falling through the gaps.
Read the article published by New Economics Foundation
The idea that societies can be secure by relying on individualised market-based provision for those who can afford it, and porous ‘’safety nets’’ for the poor, has proven to be illusionary. If the COVID-19 pandemic has sent the world one message, it is that we are only as safe as the most vulnerable among us. If people are unable to access quality health care and quarantine themselves, they face serious health risks and may transmit the virus to others, and if one country cannot contain the virus, others are bound to be (re-)infected. And yet, with the exception of those countries with robust and comprehensive social protection systems, many are struggling to safeguard the lives and livelihoods of all those affected.
Read the article of Shara Razavi
The post-Covid world requires a new social contract. The United Nations Secretary-General should convene a World Conference on Post-Covid Recovery based on multilateralism and international solidarity. This entails a paradigm shift in the prevailing economic, trade and social models. Governments bear responsibility for their unwise and inequitable budgetary allocations, which prioritized military expenditures over investment in health, education and people-centered infrastructures. A new functional paradigm on human rights should discard the skewed and artificial division of rights into those of the first, second and third generations and impose new categories of enabling rights, inherent rights, procedural rights and end rights so as to ensure human dignity and development for all.
Read the article of Alfred de Zayas, UN independent expert