President Ramaphosa champions workers' rights

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

President Cyril Ramaphosa has called on governments worldwide to renew their commitment to fundamental workers’ rights, based on social justice.

Social justice, he said, remains a central aspiration for workers globally, who yearn for a better future.

President Ramaphosa is in Geneva, Switzerland, for the 108th Session of the International Labour Organisation (ILO).

The President said while the ILO has laid the foundation for fairness in labour practice, technological advances are constantly transforming both the workforce and the workplace.

“The changing world of work also presents new opportunities. If we are to harness these changes for our benefit, rather than be shaped by them, we need a new approach,” said President Ramaphosa, who has played a pivotal role as co-chair of the ILO’s Global Commission on the Future of Work. 
The commission, which released its Future of Work Report earlier this year, is clear that people and the work they do must be at the centre of economic and social policy, and business practice.

Investment in people’s capabilities, institutions of work and decent and sustainable work, are also at the centre of the report.

Under the first pillar of the report, the commission calls for an effective lifelong learning system.

“Employees should be provided with suitable opportunities to re-skill and up-skill. We propose a reallocation of public spending to encourage universal, lifelong social protection, funded through contributory social protection schemes,” the report says.

The second recommendation is to step up investments in institutions, policies and strategies that will support people through the transitions associated with changes in the world of work.

A transformative and measurable agenda for gender equality is highlighted as the third recommendation under the pillar on people’s capabilities.

The report notes, for example, that women still perform three-quarters of all unpaid care work, and calls for policy change in this regard.

Under the second pillar, which calls for investment in institutions of work, the commission recommends all workers have an adequate living wage, maximum limits on hours of work and protection of safety and health at work.

Finally, the third pillar involves increasing investment in decent and sustainable work.

Under this pillar, the commission recommends investments in key areas that promote decent and sustainable work.

“Targeted private and public sector investment, coupled with the right technology, can create millions of new, decent, sustainable, jobs in the green economy, the care economy, infrastructure development and rural areas, among others,” said President Ramaphosa.

The final part of the report looks at what is needed to implement the commission’s recommendations.

The commission proposes that countries establish national strategies on the Future of Work through social dialogue between governments and employer and worker organisations. –