A decent job? DFID fails the TUC's Decent Work test

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To mark the World Day for Decent Work, the TUC is releasing 'A decent job?': a report assessing the Department for International Development's (DFID) efforts to secure decent jobs for the world's poor. DFID scores just 25 out of 56 points based on criteria developed from the International Labour Organisation's Decent Work Agenda.

Photo ETI/Claudia Janke

(photo: ETI / Claudia Janke)

Download: A decent job? Assessing DFID's contribution to achieving Decent Work

TUC general secretary Brendan Barber says in the preface to the report:

'Today, 7 October 2012, is the World Day for Decent Work. But with the world facing the biggest employment crisis since the great depression, there are few reasons to celebrate.

Thanks to the global financial crisis, an extra 50 million working people are struggling to survive on less than $1.25 a day. And with 75 million young people out of work, a global 'youth unemployment storm is gathering' according to the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC). A job where someone can work and live in dignity, freedom, security and equity is a distant dream for hundreds of millions of people.

Nearly everyone agrees that a decent job is the best way to get someone out of poverty, but governments are simply not doing enough to address the scale of the crisis. Britain faces a significant deficit of 'decent work', and the TUC is unflinching in calling for urgent action to address it. We are also calling for donor governments to get serious about the tackling the jobs crisis in the global south, and that's what this report addresses.

It does so by assessing the efforts of the UK's Department for International Development (DFID) against key elements of the Decent Work Agenda of the International Labour Organisation (ILO). The results are mixed at best: DFID scores just 25 points out of a total of 56. On job creation, promoting rights at work, social protection and social dialogue, DFID can and should be doing much more to help people in the developing world to secure decent jobs.

But as the report shows under every element of Decent Work DFID is doing something positive, even if it is just a small pilot project or piece of research. These are important foundations that can be built upon if the UK government has the will to do so.'

Download: A decent job? Assessing DFID's contribution to achieving Decent Work

Key recommendations for DFID

Job creation:

  • Set ambitious departmental wide targets on creating quality jobs, including indicators on improving incomes, the quality of work and labour productivity.
  • Provide technical and financial support to a pilot group of Low Income Countries (LICs) to enable them to put decent and green jobs at the heart of their national development strategies.

Rights at work:

  • Ensure that all support it provides to the private sector is linked to adherence to the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises and capacity building work to promote mature systems of industrial relations.
  • Establish a pilot programme to help developing countries to improve their labour administration and inspection systems.

Social protection:

  • Promote the goal that by 2020, all developing countries have implemented a social protection floor, based on relevant ILO standards, and have significantly increased the scope and depth of coverage.
  • Publish a 'road map' on how it will progressively integrate its existing cash transfer programmes into social protection floors, with an explicit focus on strengthening linkages with securing and maintaining decent and productive work for the poor and access to quality public services.

Social dialogue:

  • Establish a series of social dialogue pilot projects with social partners and governments in fragile states aiming to provide decent work to reduce the risk of social unrest.
  • Develop a challenge fund or programme of work aiming to strengthen the capacity of trade union organisations in the developing world with a particular emphasis on representing and empowering women, youth, and workers in the informal economy.

Promoting Decent Work in the multilateral system:

  • Award an ILO programme grant based on delivering the Decent Work Agenda in DFID's priority countries.
  • Ensure that EU trade agreements include binding labour standards, and packages of assistance to help developing countries effectively implement those standards.


About the World Day for Decent Work

Since 2008 the ITUC has been organising the World Day for Decent Work (WDDW) on 7 October. It is a day for mobilisation for trade unions across the globe, from Fiji in the east to Hawaii in the west. Every year there are hundreds of activities in a hundred countries, carried out by millions of people.

This year the ITUC is asking people to check the employment forecast for their country and write to their labour minister to demand action on jobs, particularly for young people.

For more information visit World Day for Decent Work 2012.

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