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Universalism … really?

How the World Bank turns meanings to its advantage.

With all the paradigmatic changes the World Bank has been promoting in the field of social policies, one element never changed in the past thirty years. Social policies were meant for the poor, governments had to find the best ways to target those who really needed their help.

The reasoning is simple: poor people, as was spelled out in its first World Development Report on Poverty of 1990[1], were those left behind by growth and by governments. The wrong policies were applied so that poor people did not get access to labour markets and, moreover, these labour markets were made more difficult to enter because of minimum wages and other ‘protective’ rules the poor did not really care about. If one really wanted to help the poor, one had to abolish all these well-meant but adverse policies. Open, deregulated markets, at the local and the global level, were the best programmes for the poor. In its ‘Doing Business’ Report of 2013[2], the World Bank still considered fixed term contracts and 50-hour workweeks as positive achievements, whereas premiums for night-work and paid annual leave were on the negative side[3].

As for the not-so-poor or middle classes, these people are said to have enough resources to buy the insurances they want on the market. Insurances are an economic sector and there is no reason why States or governments should get involved in it[4]. Solidarity is one of the words that has always been shunned by the international financial organisations. Lees verder

Video on Social Protection

We are happy to present to you a video we made on social protection and our Global Charter for Social Protection Rights. It was made with the help of the NGO Forum on ADB. So many thanks for this!

Please watch the video and distribute it as widely as you can:

In the meantime we are preparing the Asie Europe People’s Forum’s Social Justice Cluster’s conference in Nepal on social protection and labour rights. In Une there will be a new World Social Forum on Health and Social Security in Bogota.

All the best for 2019!

Bankruptcy of private pension systems

A new publication by the ILO confirms PSI’s long-held position of workers in retirement.

The privatisation of public pension systems has delivered vast returns to a tiny financial elite while diminishing the incomes of workers in retirement.

Read the report

Big Business Capturing UN SDG Agenda?

Over the last two decades since the Global Compact, the United Nations has increasingly embraced the corporate sector, most recently to raise finance needed to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), i.e., for Agenda 2030. But growing big business influence has also compromised analyses, recommendations, policies and programme implementation, undermining the SDGs.
Changing financing arrangements
Inadequate funding of the UN and its mandates by member States has required this search for additional finance, initially with philanthropy and ‘corporate social responsibility’ efforts by private business, but increasingly, by viewing profit-seeking investments as somehow contributing to achieve the SDGs.
While the global economy grew 47 fold from $1.35 trillion in 1960 to $63 trillion in 2010, the UN organization’s regular core budget fell to 0.0037 per cent of global income. Meanwhile, ‘core’ un-earmarked resources fell from nearly half of all UN financial resources in 1997 to less than a quarter today. A recent UN Secretary-General’s report estimated that over 90 per cent of all UN development system activities in 2015 were funded with non-core, earmarked project resources.
An earlier report found total non-core resources for UN-related activities increased 182 per cent in real terms between 1999 and 2014, mostly going through a growing number of UN ‘vertical’ trust funds, beyond Member States’ control, while core resources increased only 14 per cent.
Jomo Kwame Sundaram, Anis Chowdhury

ILO: the world counts 164 million migrant workers

The International Labour Organization (ILO) estimates that 164 million people are migrant workers – a rise of 9 per cent since 2013, when they numbered 150 million.

According to the 2nd edition of the ILO’s Global Estimates on International Migrant Workers , which covers the period between 2013 and 2017, the majority of migrant workers – 96 million – are men, while 68 million are women. This represents an increase in the share of men among migrant workers, from 56 per cent to 58 per cent, and a decrease by two percentage points in women’s share, from 44 per cent to 42 per cent. Lees verder

A new social contract for an ecological transition

While different countries in Europe are living a period of social unrest and thousands of people reclaim the streets for social and climate justice, the IMF is proposing a new social contract and ‘re-imagining social protection’… The question then clearly has to be: do we allow international financial institutions to debate our social future or do we want to reclaim this very important topic?

We know the problems: the threats of climate change and loss of biodiversity, pressure on wages, persistent poverty and unacceptable inequalities.

Read more below or here
Lees verder

Global Poll: Governments’ failure to address low wages and insecure jobs threatens trust in politics and democracy

Workers across the globe are struggling to make ends meet, believe their jobs are insecure and don’t believe their voices matter in politics according to a new global public opinion poll from the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC).

Lees verder

IMF proposes a ‘new social contract’…

“The backlash highlights the need for a new social contract, one that adapts to changed economic realities and better manages the social implications of globalization. The social contract includes the payment of taxes in exchange for public goods, and the way that society looks after the old, the young, the infirm, and those who have fallen on hard times. Because the social contract is fundamentally values-driven, solutions will vary across societies. ”

Read the report…

Analysis follows

People Power under Attack

CIVICUS has today released People Power Under Attack 2018, a new report showing that nearly six in ten countries are seriously restricting people’s fundamental freedoms of association, peaceful assembly and expression. This reflects a continuing crisis facing civil society organisations and activists across the world, with the space for civic activism most commonly undermined through censorship, attacks on journalists and harassment of human rights defenders.


European Court of Human Rights re-affirms right to strike

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has issued, on 20 November, a key ruling in defence of the right to strike in the railway sector in a case concerning a train driver in Russia.

Anatoly Ognevenko, a member of the Russian locomotive railway union RPLBZh, was dismissed from his job in Moscow on April 28 2008 after he participated in a one-day strike over wages. While the Russian courts did not challenge the legality of the strike, they nevertheless refused to declare his dismissal unlawful.

The Court once again confirmed that the right to strike falls under the protection of Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights as an important aspect of the right to freedom of association by basing itself on the ILO supervisory bodies, which consider the right to strike as an indispensable corollary of the freedom of association.

The Court also noted that the ILO regularly criticised Russian legislation banning railway workers’ right to strike. It declared that there is no reason to reject the existing international approach to the definition of an essential service and to consider the railway transport as such.

“The right to strike is fundamental, and as with other basic workers’ rights, it is under attack in many parts of the world. This decision from the ECHR re-affirms the right to strike, based in international law with the jurisdiction of the International Labour Organization. We welcome the decision, in the full knowledge that the rule of law means that the right to strike must be respected,” said Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary.

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