Global poverty campaigns will fail without decent work, says TUC

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date: 1 October 2008

embargo: 00.01hrs Friday 3 October 2008

The TUC today (Friday) warns that campaigns to end global poverty will fail unless more attention is paid to getting people into decent jobs.

The warning comes ahead of World Day for Decent Work, a global day of action on Tuesday 7 October, when the TUC will be joining 165 million trade unionists around the world to demand 'decent work for decent life' and calling for work to be put centre stage in the campaign against poverty.

In particular, the TUC is calling for:

  • trade justice: a boost to world trade by opening global markets to goods from the global south, and pro-development agreements between developed and developing countries;
  • an emphasis in environmental policies on creating new, green jobs, with help to protect the livelihoods of workers in other industries;
  • more teachers, nurses and other workers to provide decent public services, funded by more aid and debt relief; and
  • building equal treatment for people at work - based on core labour standards such as no forced or child labour, no discrimination, and rights to join unions and bargain collectively - into the work of international trade and financial institutions and migration systems.

In a letter to unions and poverty campaigners ahead of World Day for Decent Work, TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said: 'Unless governments, NGOs and unions place a strong focus on work, all we are doing is providing endless charity. What people in the developing world really want is good jobs at good wages. This is the only long-term solution to global poverty.

'Earlier this summer, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) recognised the importance of work, including job creation and employment rights, with its 'decent work agenda'. We want more organisations to make this call a central plank of the campaign to make poverty history.'

The decent work agenda elaborated by the UN's ILO has four pillars - job creation, social security, social dialogue and rights at work. The UN has recognised the role of decent work in delivering the first of its eight Millennium Development Goals. At its international conference this June, the ILO adopted a declaration on 'social justice for a fair globalisation'.


- The TUC will be exploring these issues through a series of workshops in its London headquarters on Tuesday 7 October from 9:30am to 4:30pm (register free online at - other UK events are being planned in Newcastle and Cardiff.

- All TUC press releases can be found at

- Register for the TUC's press extranet: a service exclusive to journalists wanting to access pre-embargo releases and reports from the TUC. Visit


Media enquiries:
Rob Holdsworth T: 020 7467 1372 M: 07717 531150 E: [email protected]
Elly Brenchley T: 020 7467 1337 M: 07900 910624 E: [email protected]

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