|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Commission for Social Development
4th & 5th Meetings (AM & PM)
JOB CREATION STRATEGIES, EXPANDED SOCIAL PROTECTION, EDUCATION FOR FLEXIBLE
WORKFORCE AMONG ISSUES, AS SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT COMMISSION CONTINUES SESSION
Hears from Some 45 Speakers on Priority Theme
‘Promoting Full Employment and Decent Work for All’
Aware that 1.5 billion people -- or one third of the world’s working-age population -- were either unemployed or underemployed, the Commission for Social Development today grappled with many of the entrenched socio-economic ills keeping such huge numbers of people out of the modern labour market, as it began its general discussion on promoting full employment and decent work for all.
Throughout the day, delegations agreed that global economic growth, and liberalized trade alone had failed to provide adequate social protections for the most vulnerable sectors of society, including migrants, and to equip workers with skills that would help them adapt to sometimes rapidly changing market conditions that encouraged job loss. Most speakers advocated developing proactive, innovative approaches to creating jobs to underpin all aspects of national macroeconomic policymaking.
Luca Dall’Oglio, Permanent Observer of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), said that for the social protection of the world’s vulnerable migrant workers, migration management policies and practices conducive to the “decent work” agenda outlined by the International Labour Organization (ILO) must -- and could be -- set in place in countries of origin and destination, where needed. An important part of the organization’s work for that purpose was policy dialogue and technical cooperation.
Describing the many efforts in that regard, he said that international cooperation was progressing rapidly, with many global and regional initiatives now in progress. In particular, key action-oriented partnerships between countries of origin and destination had been identified, through the Abu Dhabi Dialogue and other processes. He confirmed the organization’s interest in pursuing decent work for all, including for the “strangers in our midst”.
Underscoring the gravity of the situation for many developing countries, Teddy Kasonso, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry for Community Development and Social Services of Zambia, speaking on behalf of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), said sustainable social and economic development in his region was weighed down by unemployment, low-wage and insecure jobs, child labour, low productivity and social protection.
With that in mind, and recognizing the importance of agriculture to employment creation in the region’s mostly agro-based States, the Community had adopted -- and was implementing -- the Dar es Salaam Declaration on Agriculture and Food Security, which emphasized measures for accelerating agricultural production and thus promoting gainful employment. Specific initiatives included increasing agricultural financing and investment, promoting access to safe and nutritious foods, and mitigating the impacts of HIV and AIDS.
Though it was important to ensure that employment issues were included in macroeconomic policies, there were major challenges in that pursuit: achieving coherence in the global economic, financial, trade, environment and social policies; addressing the question of social integration, especially in the region’s large informal sector; and providing adequate worker protection.
Touching on similar issues, John W. Ashe, representative of Antigua and Barbuda, speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, stressed that it was essential to support an integrated approach to full employment and decent work that focused on investing in new jobs in growing sectors. The informal economy accounted for a substantial share of employment in developing countries, with jobs characterized by low pay and income insecurity.
Governments could address such concerns by creating an enabling environment for enterprise development and pursuing self-help initiatives, such as cooperatives. Also, collective agreements could provide a better balance of flexibility and security for the worker, while legal and regulatory frameworks could be enhanced to better address work conditions.
The main challenge, however, lay in translating political commitments into programmes that brought about concrete progress, he said. He called for enhanced international cooperation, including through fulfilling commitments for official development assistance and debt relief. To deal with the adverse impacts of globalization, developing countries must be given adequate policy space to determine areas in which they can exercise comparative advantage in the global competition for goods and services.
Speaking on behalf of the European Union, Tomana Tomc, State Secretary, Ministry of Labour, Family and Social Affairs of Slovenia said that the decent work agenda quite rightly promoted not just employment, but employment of sufficient quality to lift people out of poverty in a sustainable way. The Union encouraged the ILO to continue its efforts towards increasing the coverage of social protection. The issue was also highlighted in the European Commission communication of October 2007 on measures to modernize social protection for greater social justice and economic cohesion.
On the principle of “flexicurity”, which promotes the twin goals of labour market flexibility and worker security, she added that the quality of work needed to be reinforced. Workers should be supported to enter the labour market, rather than be protected against it.
To that point, the representative of the Society of Catholic Medical Missionaries asserted that, without better prospects for job creation, there would be no agreement within the global trade regime. She recommended that developing countries have an increased voice in the decision-making of the World Trade Organization, among other institutions, and that fair rules for trade and capital flows be complemented with fair rules for the cross-border movement of people.
Also taking the floor today were the Social Affairs, Development and Labour Ministers of Finland, Russian Federation, El Salvador, Slovakia, Namibia, and the Netherlands. The Joint Adviser in the Planning Commission of India also spoke, as did the Republic of Korea’s Director for Human Rights and Social Affairs.
The Commission also heard from the representatives of Dominican Republic (on behalf of the Rio Group), United Arab Emirates, Japan, Brazil, Italy, Belarus, Pakistan, Algeria, Turkey, Syria, Chile, Moldova, Switzerland, Israel, Bangladesh, Senegal, Nicaragua, Philippines, United States, Mexico, China, Cuba, Sudan, United Republic of Tanzania, Indonesia, Zambia, Yemen, and Jamaica.
The observer delegations of the International Labour Organization (ILO), and the Holy See also took the floor.
Representatives of the following organizations participated in the discussion: International Movement ATD Fourth World, Droit à l’énergie SOS future, and International Federation of the Association of the Elderly.
The Commission for Social Development will meet again at 10 a.m. Friday, 8 February, to hear the report of the Special Rapporteur on disabilities and conclude its general discussion of its priority theme: “promoting full employment and decent work for all”.
The Commission for Social Development this morning began its general discussion on the issues of employment, ageing, disability and youth under the main theme of “Promoting full employment and decent work for all” (for background information, see Press Release SOC/4736 of 1 February).
JOHN W. ASHE (Antigua and Barbuda), speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, fully supported the Commission in its efforts to guide the work of the broader United Nations development community and the global dialogue on social development. The report on the priority theme pointed to various distressing developments in employment, notably that some 1.5 billion people -- or one third of the working-age population -- were either unemployed or underemployed in 2006. Such “jobless growth” resulted from inadequate macroeconomic policies. Thus, decent work -- characterized by equality, equity, security and dignity -- must be a hallmark of such policies, if people were to enjoy personal dignity.
It was essential to support an integrated approach to full employment and decent work that focused on investing in new jobs in growing sectors, he continued. The informal economy accounted for a substantial share of employment in developing countries, with jobs characterized by low pay and income insecurity. Governments could address such concerns by creating an enabling environment for enterprise development. Self-help initiatives, such as cooperatives, also tended to be overlooked as an option for creating productive employment. Collective agreements could provide a better balance of flexibility and security for the worker, and it was important to pursue legal and regulatory frameworks that addressed work conditions.
The Group rejected all discrimination against women, youth, older persons and persons with disabilities, he said, noting that it was crucial to develop strategies to improve job prospects for young people. His delegation supported efforts to integrate the concerns of older persons into national development agendas, and looked forward to the coming into force of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. National efforts to promote sustainable restoration of livelihoods in war-torn countries should receive support from the global community through appropriate cooperation, including capacity-building.
He said events, such as the World Summit for Social Development, had demonstrated the importance of employment creation to poverty eradication, and had been reinforced at regional levels. The eleventh International Labour Organization (ILO) African regional meeting last April defined steps for making decent work central to social policies, while in Asia countries had developed national action plans that prioritized time-bound programmes for a decent work agenda. Last September, ministers of labour of the Americas committed to various proposals on employment in the follow-up to the 2005 Fourth World Summit of the Americas.
The challenge was to translate political commitments into programmes that brought about concrete progress, he said. In that context, he called for enhanced international cooperation, including through fulfilling commitments for internationally agreed official development assistance, debt relief and technical support. On globalization, he said developing countries must be given adequate policy space to determine areas in which they could exercise comparative advantage in the global competition for goods and services. Decent work country programmes were also vehicles for supporting national development efforts, providing for bilateral collaboration. It was most important that the Commission produce an outcome with substantive actions to provide strong policy direction to States and a built-in follow-up mechanisms to track progress, he concluded.
TOMANA TOMC, State Secretary, Ministry of Labour, Family and Social Affairs of Slovenia, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said that the European Commission’s 2006 communication entitled “Promoting Decent Work in the World” testified to the weight that Union policies ascribed to that area. Apart from the report on decent work adopted by the European Parliament in April 2007, the most recent European Council conclusions stressed the importance of the decent work agenda. Decent work was addressed in numerous Union policies and documents. The new cycle of the Union Lisbon Strategy underlined the efforts directed at attaining higher levels of employment. Decent work represented a global standard and was a key element of the Union’s social dimension. The Union approach to social development included the transfer of good practices beyond Union borders, and promotion of decent work and related issues was increasingly becoming a part of policy dialogue and cooperation with neighbouring countries, emerging economies and regions.
Endorsing the view that employment was the key route out of poverty, she said that the decent work agenda quite rightly promoted not just employment, but employment of sufficient quality to lift people out of poverty in a sustainable way. The Union encouraged the ILO to continue its efforts towards increasing the coverage of social protection. The issue was also highlighted in the European Commission communication of October 2007 on measures to modernize social protection for greater social justice and economic cohesion, which stressed, among other things, appropriate income and active labour market measures.
With higher-educated workers having a considerable advantage, she said that special attention must be paid to the issues of accessibility, quality of training and rapid retraining of such priority groups as youth, the elderly and less-educated individuals. In accordance with the policy of lifelong learning, countries should enable them to gain knowledge, qualifications and education in a way more adapted to the abilities and possibilities of individuals. In doing so, countries should follow the principle of gender equality. In the last 10 years, women’s impact on the European labour market had increased significantly. The European Employment Strategy had raised the profile of equal opportunities and gender mainstreaming. There was a widespread recognition that women’s employment had to play a significant role in employment policies and strategies worldwide. Also of great importance were measures to help reconcile professional and family life.
Turning to the principle of “flexicurity”, she said that quality of work and education, training and lifelong training were key dimensions of both security and flexibility. Social security systems must facilitate employment and encourage work. The quality of work needed to be reinforced, including safety and health at work. Workers should be supported to enter the labour market, rather than be protected against it, and the role of social partners was of key importance. By developing education and training systems and acknowledging the needs of the contemporary knowledge society, the Union endeavoured to prepare young people to enter the labour market, while at the same time encouraging lifelong learning.
In order to implement the decent work agenda, which also included prevention of child labour, exploitation in the formal and informal economy, and discrimination on any basis, it was of utmost importance to give renewed impetus to the Secretary-General’s Youth Employment Network. Those recommendations concerning young people’s employment should be included in strategies for the prevention of social exclusion and poverty.
TEDDY KASONSO, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry for Community Development and Social Services of Zambia, speaking on behalf of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), said that generating productive employment and decent work remained a global challenge. The Secretary-General’s report cited troubling trends, including that some 1.5 billion people, one third of the world’s working-age population, were either unemployed or underemployed. The socio-economic impact of that dire situation, which particularly affected women and youths, was even more devastating in developing countries, like those in the Southern African region.
He said that sustainable social and economic development in the region of the Southern African Development Community, which was weighed down by unemployment, low-wage and insecure jobs, child labour, low productivity and social protection, was struggling to meet poverty eradication goals, deepen regional integration and increase competitiveness. The Southern African Development Community recognized that education, training and skills acquisition were an integral part of employment policies.
Towards that end, while individual Member States worked continuously to improve the quality of their education systems, guided by the SADC Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan, efforts were also under way to ensure that the entire region’s education systems were harmonized and competitive in the global economy, and one such initiative had been approved at the ministerial level last July. That plan aimed to boost gender and culture instruction, teacher education, and technical and vocational training.
He went on to say that agriculture was the key to employment creation in the region’s mostly agro-based States. Indeed, in more than 70 per cent of the region, 240 million people depended on agriculture and natural resources for their livelihoods. With that in mind, the Community had adopted and was implementing the Dar-es-Salaam Declaration on Agriculture and Food Security, which emphasized specific measures for accelerating agricultural production and thus promoting gainful employment, as well as self-employment. Specific measures under that plan included increasing agricultural financing and investment, promoting access to safe and nutritious foods, strengthening disaster preparedness and mitigating against the impact of HIV and AIDS.
Highlighting other relevant initiatives, he said that, last February, the Southern African Development Community member States had approved a programme of work on productivity and, later in the year, a Code on Social Security, which, in a region with such high levels of poverty and vulnerability, aimed to provide strategic guidelines in the development and improvement of social security schemes. Overall, the Community had a vision of promoting economic well-being and improving the standards of living of its people. While recognizing the relevant Governments’ responsibilities in creating full and gainful employment, he also underscored the importance of international cooperation towards meeting agreed development targets, including the Millennium Development Goals.
Reiterating the need to ensure that full employment and decent work efforts were included in the region’s macroeconomic policies, he said that some of the major challenges that should be addressed in that regard included achieving coherence in the global economic, financial, trade, environment and social policies; addressing the question of social integration, especially in the region’s large informal sector, where the majority of the working poor, most of whom were women, were found; the feminization of poverty; and provision of adequate worker protection, particularly in the informal sector.
FRANCISCO A. CORTORREAL (Dominican Republic), speaking on behalf of the Rio Group, said the promotion of good governance, sound economic policies, solid democratic institutions and improved infrastructure were the basis for sustained economic growth, poverty eradication and employment creation. Eradicating poverty was possible only if the delivery of basic social services was ensured and social security was expanded. Job creation and decent work strategies were the chief tools in national poverty eradication strategies and those should be complemented by training, promotion and financing programmes.
He reaffirmed the fact that people aspired to have decent work that was productive and profitable, and delivered workplace security and social protection for their families, as well as personal development and social integration, freedom to express their concerns and participate in the decisions that affected their lives. Decent work should also be grounded in equality for all women and men. In that context, he stressed the importance of the International Labour Organization’s decent work agenda, and noted that women were still victims of generalized discrimination in labour markets.
Turning to migration issues, he said the important link between international migration and development made it necessary to develop a new comprehensive approach to migration, which favoured a deep understanding of migration’s positive effects and placed the migrant at the core of migration policies. Access to employment and decent work for persons with disabilities should be a cross-cutting concern and a central goal of development strategies. He also encouraged Governments and civil society to develop special strategies oriented towards the older working population.
Noting that general absolute poverty impeded the full and effective exercise of human rights, he highlighted the Millennium Declaration’s commitment to eradicating extreme poverty. To fulfil that commitment, industrialized countries should commit themselves to improved debt relief programmes for poor and highly indebted countries, to the elimination of bilateral debts and to more development assistance.
PAULA RISIKKO, Minister of Social Affairs and Health of Finland, fully associating herself with Slovenia’s statement on behalf of the European Union, said that promoting quality employment was a key prerequisite for developing comprehensive social protection systems. Combating gender discrimination was also necessary. In Finland, the universal social protection system ensured primary services and reasonable income for all, and there was no evidence that a strong social protection system weakened a country’s competitiveness. Further, achieving the goals of full employment and decent work was integral to meeting internationally agreed development goals.
Instruments to promote full employment and decent work should be effective, and she called on States to start measuring the success rate of their economic policies, both in terms of growth of gross domestic product (GDP) and their impact on employment and well-being. The most important productivity indicators relating to employment were unemployment and employment rates, and access to labour.
She said that studies had shown that, despite the prosperity of Finnish society, health inequalities between different socio-economic groups were increasing, and poor health was linked with low education levels, unemployment and poor economic status. To prevent social exclusion and bridge health inequalities, her Government was working to enhance health in all policies. Attention was paid to preventive work, and in the long term, the effectiveness of such work would be manifested in people’s increased well-being, and fewer health inequalities.
MARIAM KHALFAN AL ROUMI ( United Arab Emirates) said her Government, acting according to her country’s constitution, had adopted and implemented policies and legislation in order to achieve full employment for its citizens and to protect the rights of temporary employees, as well as to eliminate all forms of discrimination and safeguard equal opportunities. Moreover, her country had ratified the international conventions concerning working hours, inspections, night work shifts for women, the equality of remuneration, minimum work age and the worst forms of child labour, among others. The State provided citizens with the necessary training and education to enable them to participate effectively in the labour market, with 20 per cent of the State budget dedicated to education. Those efforts had led to a growing participation of women in the work force, which now stands at 22.4 per cent.
Continuing to describe the situation in her country, she said the social security system provided monthly financial assistance to families and individuals who were unable to work or had insufficient income. Benefits had been doubled at the beginning of the current year. A “Social Responsibility Fund” had been established that financed social care, social development projects, as well as training courses and rehabilitative programmes. Social development centres had been established to provide training for women in crafts and traditional industries. The centres also helped women to improve their computer and public relations skills, as well as their English. Over 3,500 women had benefited.
TAKASHI ASHIKI ( Japan) noted that, since the 1995 World Summit for Social Development, there had been significant developments in various areas, and the concept of a people-centred approach had taken firm hold at different levels of policy-making. Japan gave high priority to human security, and had implemented assistance programmes that at once protected people from various threats, and empowered them to respond. His country would continue to work to promote social development based on the idea of enhancing human security.
Decent work, he said, contained the aspirations of all workers, and comprised four elements: ensuring job opportunity and income for sustainable livelihoods; protecting workers’ rights; ensuring a work-life balance; and fair treatment in the workplace, including through gender equality. Last July, Japan became the first country to ratify ILO Convention 187, which established a promotional framework for an occupational safety and health system. With ratification, his country had taken a practical step towards ensuring a safe and healthy workplace for all workers at the national level.
Regarding employment, he said Japan had engaged in international cooperation, notably through a five-year project to improve management of the cross-border labour movement in Thailand, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Cambodia and Indonesia. The project was expected to help countries -- both recipients and producers of migrant workers -- to establish appropriate policies and regulatory frameworks. In turn, they would contribute to protecting the human rights of migrant workers, and the ways in which they earned their living.
VIKTOR KOZBANENKO, Director in the Ministry of Health and Social Development of the Russian Federation, said his country would continue to work to implement United Nations decisions on social issues. In recent years, his country had seen positive developments: it was in seventh place in terms of gross domestic product, calculated in terms of purchasing power parity, and third place in terms of its gold and monetary reserves. The nation was also in the final stages of joining the World Trade Organization. By 2020, it expected to be the world’s fifth largest economy, which would provide a means to increase living standards and social well-being.
The Government had begun a new social policy that aimed at both creating good social conditions and increasing peoples’ competitiveness in the labour market. His delegation fully supported the idea that promoting productive employment was essential for overcoming poverty and ensuring social integration.
While unemployment had dropped by 10 per cent in 2007 alone, he said problems remained, including a lack of manpower, due to population decreases; an ageing population; increasing competition for qualified manpower at the global level; and the need to create more jobs for young people and women. On people with physical difficulties, the Government was developing a policy for 2008-2010. It also sought to focus on improving employment laws, forecasting labour market conditions, providing training and management skills, and improving systems for bringing in foreign workers. Also, the huge potential of small and medium-sized enterprises must be realized.
The Russian Federation was ready to mitigate the impacts of the current crisis in global financial markets, and was increasing its role as a donor country. He hoped the country’s unique experience would be of interest to those on the path of large scale social reform.
MARIA LUIZA RIBEIRO VIOTTI ( Brazil) began her statement with a brief overview of her Government’s policies aimed at ensuring full employment, including its development of a national plan for decent labour, in which Government representatives, employers and employees participated in close cooperation with the International Labour Organization. The intensification of globalization had sent ripples through world labour markets. Most evident among the fluctuations had been the creation of quality jobs in more modern industries, even as posts in more traditional sectors had been eliminated. Brazil had adopted practices and policies to address that issue, not only by providing decent work, but by delivering fair income, workplace security and social protection.
She said that, overall, job creation in Brazil was high, with some 4.5 million jobs generated in the formal sector between 2003 and 2006. From January to September 2007, some 1.6 million jobs had been created -- more than the total number in 2006. Those were positive trends, implying higher coverage by the social security system, thus meeting some of the objectives Brazil had pursued in its efforts to provide decent work. In general, wages had increased, particularly the minimum wage, which had contributed to the reduction of labour market inequality. Brazil had also made headway in eradicating forced labour, child labour and in promoting equality in the workplace. It had also made strides in fostering comprehensive social dialogue.
Nevertheless, Brazil was determined to step up and maintain its efforts to fight unemployment, particularly among women, Afro-Brazilians, rural workers, youth, persons with disabilities, and other underprivileged groups, she noted. Brazil also attached great importance to international cooperation and to the elimination of constraints that hindered the development and economic growth of developing economies. In that regard, decent work in the agricultural sector of developing countries would benefit greatly from the reduction of barriers and distortions in world agricultural trade.
Like in other countries, Brazilian youths had problems finding jobs, largely because they did not have enough work experience, she said, adding that the sad irony was that they could not get that experience because they could not find jobs. To tackle that serious problem, the Government had designed public policies, such as the National Programme for the Inclusion of Young People, which provided professional training, mediation, orientation and internships, as well as information and support in such areas as corporate responsibility. Concerning the Commission, Brazil expected it to encourage deepened dialogue and cooperation among countries, the International Labour Organization and other multilateral organizations towards the promotion of full employment and decent work, in order to make that a reality.
ANA MARIA LIEVANO DE SOL, Director of International Judicial Affairs and National Secretary of Family Affairs of El Salvador, said that, in its efforts to ensure productive employment for all, her Government had fostered in recent years a growth model designed to overcome the country’s dependence on agricultural exports. That had led to a transformation in El Salvador driven by import goods, along with remittances and non-traditional exports. At the same time, the Government was aware that such a model was sensitive to outside influences, and had moved to closely monitor the situation.
She said that El Salvador was also taking on the challenge of ensuring quality employment and, to that end, had boosted its education programmes in the hopes of training qualified human resources, making the country more competitive in global markets and, at the same time, bolstering its education institutions, facilities and programmes. El Salvador believed that decent work and full employment was the missing link between economic growth and poverty reduction. With that in mind, the Government was determined to implement sound social policies that went beyond “just survival” and towards sustainable development.
She said that immigration had become El Salvador’s main point of participation in the globalization progress. That participation was not just limited to remittances, but a wide variety of economic activities that maintained, and even deepened, migrants’ links to their home country and created decent jobs there, as well. By example, she said that Salvadoran’s that had migrated to other countries drove advances at home in telecommunications, used money transfer facilities, and, among other things, requested the shipment of home-grown products.
Once they were legally settled in their new homes, Salvadorans often purchased new homes, farmland and livestock back home in El Salvador. She went on to cite air travel and eco-tourism as among the other ways Salvadoran migrants sparked economic growth and employment generation at home and abroad. By example, she said that air travel between El Salvador and North America had boomed to 1.5 million people a year. Even with all that, the Government realized there were challenges that needed to be effectively addressed, such as the existence of gender discrimination in the labour market. To that end, the Government was actively promoting gender mainstreaming in national legislation with its Salvadoran Institute for Women’s Development.
ALDO MANTOVANI ( Italy) said that Italy had seen a significant increase in jobs, but that what was needed was not simply more jobs, but also better jobs. Discontinuity in labour paths made it difficult for many people to build their lives. The Italian labour market required a more extended, efficient support and equal access to lifelong learning activities, in order to allow “flexible” workers to make successful transitions from job to job without losing their social security. Effective public employment services were also needed, especially for the disadvantaged.
In 2007, he said, social partners had agreed on a reform that would provide for a more adequate job-oriented social security, in line with the European Union’s common principles on “flexicurity”. It was based on reform of the social safety network, the enhancement of employment services in line with a “welfare to work” approach, a reform of economic incentives systems, and pro-flexibility innovations that helped business fight improper job placement patterns. Italy had also launched the declaration on “Enhancing Social Europe”, now signed by twelve European Union members, which advocates a stronger Union role in shaping a more equitable and balanced globalization, including social standards clauses in trade agreements with third countries.
SERGEI A. RACHKOV ( Belarus) said ensuring full employment and decent work was a major component of his country’s social policy. Policy was formulated in annual State programmes, which took into account key economic indicators and social and economic development forecasts. He described a recently adopted State programme for increasing employment in small- and medium-sized towns, which should improve regional and local labour markets. New legal and institutional measures also had been established, including tax breaks for small businesses and a simplified financial reporting system.
Belarus had registered one of the lowest unemployment rates in Europe in recent years, currently at 1 per cent, he continued. Since 1996, unemployment had dropped four-fold, with a gradual decrease seen among women and youth. In 2007 alone, unemployment among young people had fallen by 1 per cent. He said the Government was actively increasing efforts to train managers and enhance skills, in order to increase employment possibilities for people in changing market conditions. Using resources from the State social protection fund, the Government had helped unemployed families move to new houses and find new work.
On increasing the employment of young people, he discussed various State-backed guarantees, and highlighted the importance of involving youth aged 14 to 18 years in temporary jobs when not studying, as a way to prevent a growth in crime. For people with disabilities, he noted that various organizations set aside funds for purchasing special equipment for them. In closing, he said Belarus supported the appeal for effective labour laws aimed at giving maximum protection to workers.
FARUKH AMIL (Pakistan) said that the relevant reports before the Commission, which paint a “grim picture” of the international community’s efforts to ensure productive employment for all in the wake of the 1995 Copenhagen Summit and the 2005 World Summit, recommended promoting greater coherence between sectoral and macroeconomic policies, and adopting integrated strategies for employment generation. However, such efforts required fair trade rules and a level playing field for developing countries with mostly agrarian economies. Availability of adequate and sustained financial resources, market access, reduction of tariff barriers and debt cancellation were crucial if developing countries were to pursue active labour market policies.
Turning to the situation in his country, he said that, in recent years, the economy had undergone a qualitative transformation because of broad-based structural reforms that had also helped drive job creation. Some measures in that regard had included institutional reforms, such as deregulation, liberalization and privatization, as well as the creation of conditions that motivated the private sector and attracted foreign investment. Specifically, Government policies for employment generation had focused on direct and targeted measures, accelerated investment, and improving the technical and vocational competence of the labour force.
Pointing out some relevant examples of his Government’s efforts, he said that the Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund had been set up with a $100 million endowment as a wholesale lender to non-governmental organizations engaged in providing microfinancing. That Fund was now operating in 104 districts across the country, with 68 partner organizations, and had so far disbursed more than 17.5 billion rupees to some 6.18 million beneficiaries.
Further, spending in the Public Sector Development Programme for 2007 had been increased by 59.9 per cent, which would lead to the creation of a large number of new jobs. Another specific targeted intervention had been the recent launch of the National Internship Programme, which aimed to harness the energy and motivation of educated young people towards the improvement of public sector performance and increasing employability. In all that, Pakistan realized that challenges remained, but the Government was committed to achieving the ambitious goal of decent work and full employment for all.
MOHAMED SOFIANE BERRAH (Algeria), aligning herself with Antigua and Barbuda’s statement on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, pointed out that the figures today were telling: while economic growth was in full swing, 1.5 million people -– or one third of the working-aged population -- was unemployed or underemployed in 2006, and the rate was higher among women and young people. Noting that the development of appropriate measures varied from one country to another, she said fighting unemployment required creating conditions to promote enterprise development, investing in education and guaranteeing equal opportunity, particularly for women, young people and persons with disabilities.
With a population of more than 32 million -- 60 per cent of whom were young people –- and an unemployment rate of 12 per cent, Algeria had made job creation a strategic priority, she continued. The Government had increased support for professional training, and had encouraged the creation of small- and medium-sized enterprises. In the area of social protection, the Government offered complete coverage to workers and their dependents. Solutions to unemployment required bringing together a set of conditions: development assistance, along with international cooperation in the areas of trade, investment finance and technology. The synergy of public policies in a more just environment would help promote full employment and decent work for all.
OZHAN UZUMCUOGLU (Turkey), aligning himself with the statement made by the European Union, said that the attention paid to full, decent employment by recent world summits had provided the Commission with the opportunity for a more focused debate on the topic. He agreed with the Secretariat’s report on the gap between economic growth and job creation and said it clearly indicated the need for a more proactive approach that put employment generation at the core of both social and economic policies.
He said his country’s current development plan aimed to do that, while providing equal opportunity for women, youth, the long-term unemployed and previously convicted persons. An important element of those efforts was cooperation between the educational system and the labour market, so that the qualified manpower required by the business world could be trained. The goal of full and productive employment should be seen as an integral part of the world development agenda, which required global policy coherence at the national and international levels. In that light, recent work in the Commission for Social Development had been instrumental in identifying progress, obstacles and possible measures for the way forward. Focus should now turn to quick and effective implementation.
MILOSLAV HETTES, Director General of the International Relations Section of the Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs and Family of Slovakia, supported the Toolkit for Mainstreaming Employment and Decent Work that was approved by the United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination in April. Slovakia was a founding member of the ILO and actively participated in its activities and international labour conferences in Geneva. Decent work and globalization were bound together. He supported the call for the ILO to help prepare a labour or job index. Individual national policies required a collective approach and recognition that labour was not a commodity.
He lauded the European Union’s efforts to balance decent work and globalization. Slovakia was committed to the declaration on “Enhancing Social Europe”, and viewed it as a guarantee for achieving the objectives of the European social model, in which globalization was a means to bringing prosperity and a decent life to all people. Social Europe offered real benefits for working people and other citizens, especially those made vulnerable by restructuring and globalization. Decent work meant freely choosing productive employment, as well as the right to work, social protection, social dialogue and “gender aspects”. It should also mean harmonization of traditions and sustainable development in the globalization of all countries. The statistics published in the Secretary-General’s report on employment and decent work issues were not flattering and indicated a need to intensify efforts. Slovakia wished to actively contribute to implementing the Millennium Declaration and develop a dialogue on decent work with Asian and Latin American countries.
WARIF HALABI ( Syria) said that the international community needed to recommit itself to the outcome of the 1995 Copenhagen Summit towards ensuring decent work and full employment for all people. States should also reaffirm their commitment to poverty eradication and social advancement for all. For its part, Syria had implemented a national five-year development programme aimed at inculcating a full market-based economy. That plan also sought to ensure job creation and the elimination of income disparities within the country. Other actions undertaken by the Government focused particularly on: the development of a modern private sector in areas such as tourism; boosting investment; and improving information and communication technology.
She said that Syria was also determined to improve the livelihoods of families and youth, as well as older persons and persons with disabilities. To that end, the Government had enacted polices to shore up the family’s role as a “social stabilizer”. Further, programmes were under way to ensure that all people, particularly youth, were aware of certain services, such as small business opportunities. The Government was also focused on rehabilitating former prisoners, so that they could be integrated into society. It had also established social security networks to help families in need. Other efforts had focused on a broader social dialogue and development, as well as agricultural reform.
At the international level, Syria would call on the Commission to recognize the inability of people suffering from economic blockades or living under foreign occupation to achieve decent work and full employment. She also called on the Commission to ensure that elderly persons living under occupation were not left out of international efforts to achieve full implementation of the 2002 Madrid International Action Plan on Ageing.
LUCA DALL’OGLIO, Permanent Observer for the International Organization for Migration (IOM), said that labour migration had become a key aspect of human mobility and the global economy, with 90 million migrant workers around the globe. For the social protection of the many vulnerable among them, migration management policies and practices conducive to the “decent work” agenda must and could be set in place in countries of origin and destination, where needed. An important part of the organization’s work for that purpose was policy dialogue and technical cooperation.
Describing the many efforts in that regard, he said that international cooperation was also progressing rapidly, with many global and regional initiatives now in progress. In particular, key action-oriented partnerships between countries of origin and destination had been identified, through the Abu Dhabi Dialogue and other processes. He confirmed the organization’s interest in pursuing decent work for all, including for the “strangers in our midst”, and its commitment to assisting States and other stakeholders in promoting the welfare of migrants, who were a beneficial force in development.
CHRISTIAN PUMARINO ( Chile), associating himself with the Rio Group, noted that, since the Santiago Declaration, his country had adopted policies to increase decent and quality work. Chile was fully aware of the need to formulate policies that promoted economic growth and a regulatory framework for enterprises and workers to adapt to labour market conditions. Last quarter, Chile achieved the lowest unemployment rate in its history for that quarter, and the highest rate of female participation. Such success had been achieved within a framework of the sustained growth of the labour market.
He said the Government was committed to guaranteeing the protection of workers’ rights, notably seen through the creation of a new law which aimed to guarantee the rights of sub-contractors in areas such as security and labour hygiene. Labour justice reform would also come into force, increasing the number of labour judges and creating a worker ombudsman for the exercise of judicial rights. He also noted upcoming reform of employment insurance.
An important achievement in Chile was the unanimous adoption of a law creating certification for, and recognition of, labour skills not acquired in the formal education system, he explained. This year, Chile would reform its social security system to correct issues created by the past privatization of the system. Improvements introduced would enter into force in July, and would call on the State to assume its responsibilities vis-à-vis pension contributions, among other things. Chile would continue to move forward in building a competitive economy and complying with its ethical duty to build a more equitable society.
STEPHEN PURSEY, representative of the International Labour Organization (ILO), said that many were watching with concern the signs of a dramatic slowdown of economic growth in the industrialized world, as well as signs that developing countries would also be affected. With coming challenges in mind, he said that it would be important to ensure that all countries and regions were adequately prepared to confront labour market ripples and employment fluctuations. That called for, among other things, a strengthening of policy efforts to ensure that advances made in recent years were not reversed and that recovery, when it came, was balanced and broad-based.
He said there was a particular need to ensure that people did not fall back into poverty. Further, dialogue was of increasing importance in times of difficulty and the ILO would encourage early and open tripartite discussions, especially during the coming period. He said that the ILO would continue to fully support the intergovernmental process. The Commission marked a high point in the effort to ensure productive employment and decent work for all. With its ambitious new work plan, the Commission generated great expectations of what could be accomplished in the area of employment and decent work. It was, therefore, important not to fall short of its goal to devise practical job-generation measures for those depending on it for help, especially during the coming period.
The representative of the Society of Catholic Medical Missionaries recalled the 2002 International Conference on Financing for Development, the 1995 World Summit for Social Development and the Millennium Development Goals as she discussed the link between full employment and international trade.
While trade had played an increasing role in the world economy over the last two decades, it had not taken place equally among all countries, she said. Trade and labour policies were interconnected: people with capital and entrepreneurial ability benefited, while the poor, marginalized and indigenous were often left behind. While economic policies involved liberalization of trade and financial measures, she reminded delegates that the main issue facing the current Doha Round of trade talks had not yet been confronted: global employment. Without better prospects for job creation, there would be no agreement within the global trade regime.
Employment was increasingly casual and informal, she explained, making it difficult to be monitored and valued in national accounts. Given that, she made several recommendations for addressing employment at the international level. Developing countries should have an increased voice in the decision-making of various institutions, and the World Trade Organization should provide for their full participation. Their ability to negotiate in the World Trade Organization and other such forums should be enhanced. Mechanisms should be created to address trade imbalances. On agricultural subsidies, she said countries must evaluate the impact on overall employment.
Governments must respond to trade with policies that create jobs and educational opportunities for the unskilled, she said. Fair rules for trade and capital flows must be complemented with fair rules for the cross-border movement of people. Minimum wages should be addressed in contracts, and companies must accept responsibility for the behaviour of their suppliers and sub-contractors. In sum, she called on Governments to develop a new trade model that addressed labour and the environment, among other issues.
Ms. SOONES, representative of International Movement ATD Fourth World, told the Commission that a young college graduate and ATD member from Asia had grown up and continued to live inside the cemetery in a large city in his country. That young man recognized that, even though he had overcome many obvious hardships to obtain an education, poverty and social exclusion had prevented him from translating his opportunities into gainful employment.
“He knows that because he lives in a cemetery, most others see him as poor, rather than as professional,” she said, stressing that the draft guiding principles on extreme poverty and human rights, currently under consideration by the Geneva-based Human Rights Council, attempted to address the many, often hidden barriers the world’s poorest and most marginalized people faced in achieving decent work. Recognizing that people living in extreme poverty faced social exclusion, the draft principles call on States to “strive to abolish any form of discrimination based on external impressions, physical appearance, residence, living conditions, race, ethnic background, sex, or any other consideration stemming from extreme poverty”. It also says that discrimination in employment on grounds relating to extreme poverty unrelated to good performance on the job should be penalized.
She said the draft principles clearly recognized the ways in which isolation from wider society presented people living in extreme poverty with unique challenges in gaining access to the resources they needed to overcome that poverty, including access to decent work. She went on to say that helping the abject poor obtain gainful employment required sustained efforts, based on long-term capacity-building. While Governments must actively step up their actions in that regard, they must also be aware that policies that aimed to benefit the extremely poor must be elaborated with the participation of the poorest themselves. Further, since most policies continued to target only the “most employable” segments of society, it was clear that efforts needed to be tailored to the most marginalized.
The representative of Droit à l’énergie SOS future said his organization worked to ensure people’s access to energy, adding that full employment was the best way to escape from the vicious cycle of poverty. Without access to electricity, it was impossible to meet the basic needs of a decent life, which included access to water, education and telecommunications. Without energy, no development would be possible. Many people lived in precarious conditions, as seen in the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)’s human development indicators. Increased energy coverage could change such situations and enhance employment, particularly for women, who would be freed from their current duties of collecting wood and water.
Job creation in the energy sector also contributed to the technological development of countries, he said. If electrification was coupled with technical training, the sector would be a source of local skills.
While there had been much focus on macroeconomic policy-making, he said microeconomic activities would also allow for improved conditions. He supported public-private partnerships, particularly those with an ethical component. Such partnerships created quality jobs in developing countries, and allowed industrialized countries to receive labour benefits. Encouraging local development also reduced the exodus of rural people to nearby towns.
The representative of the International Federation of the Association of the Elderly said his organization brought together more than 300 million elderly people. Concerns about future employment were crucial, as pensions depended on the success of proposals to promote full employment and decent work for all.
His organization urged that resolutions emerging from the Commission not remain “desires”; they should require Governments to develop balanced economic strategies. Decent work promoted general well-being, which was the first step in sustained economic growth. Governments should create new models for labour market policies that included social protection infrastructure. The difficulties in emerging and developing countries were different than those in industrialized nations. Thus, models must be developed that took into account the socio-economic characteristics of each country or region. There was no doubt that solutions to such problems existed.
The world was approaching an epidemic, in which the number of elderly over the age of 80 years would triple, he said. Countries must train professionals to deal with that phenomenon. Significant progress had been made in the area of public health, such as a law on disabilities adopted by Spain, which included mechanisms to establish public and private jobs. Workers’ rights were being harmed all over the world, which created “precarious” employment. He urged that the employment of young people be urgently assessed, and recalled that jobs had disappeared from rural and agrarian areas.
KENAPETA HIKUAMA-MUPAINE, Director in the Ministry of Labour of Namibia, aligning himself with the Group of 77 and China and the Southern African Development Community, said the Secretary-General’s report compelled States to change the way policies were formulated at the national and international level, in order to integrate full employment into all aspects of economic planning. That meant that all policies must be evaluated in terms of their potential to improve lives.
Namibia was fully committed to social dialogue as the most democratic means of ensuring that the twin goals of social well-being and economic prosperity were achieved. He commended the International Labour Organization for recently concluding its International Labour Conference, which prioritized country programmes to advance the decent work agenda. Namibia agreed that, in light of the large numbers of “working poor”, the double challenge was to increase economic growth and the employment content of that growth.
In Africa, where countries faced worsening unemployment and social conditions, many nations were formulating polices to replace “jobless” growth with “employment rich” growth. In Namibia, the vestiges of apartheid had resulted in high unemployment, an inadequate skill base and a large percentage of working poor. He described various initiatives Namibia had undertaken to address those issues, including legislation to establish a national commission for employment creation. Also, the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare had initiated talks with the ILO about creating a decent work country programme, the agenda for which would require greater policy coherence, cross-sector integration of economic and social goals and improved labour market research.
SERGIU SAINCIUC (Moldova), fully associating himself with the statement made by Slovenia on behalf of the European Union, said that, for a better employment picture, a much higher level of international cooperation was urgently needed, based on the principles of non-discrimination, open competition, transparent access to markets and fair and just rules for international trade. It was also imperative to continue to integrate economic and trade policies. At the international level that implied closer collaboration between international economic and financial organizations and organizations that had a social mandate.
In Moldova, the Government and its partners undertook a number of measures to ensure full employment, in coordination with the Council of Europe and the ILO. Several national programmes were implemented, targeting various social groups. Among them were: the prevention and reduction of unemployment among young people; the rehabilitation and integration of disabled persons; and assistance to victims of human trafficking. He expressed great appreciation for the international support offered to his country in those areas, and in development as a whole.
JEAN-DANIEL VIGNY ( Switzerland) said that the ILO had mapped out the path towards full employment and decent work, and he agreed with that organization’s fourfold strategy placing employment at the heart of social and economic policies, putting in place social protections, promoting social dialogue and guaranteeing the fundamental right to work.
As decent work involved multidimensional considerations, he said, the Commission’s recommendations should address all actors at the national and international level. States must implement the four strategies mentioned above by means of integrated and coherent policies. The international system must integrate employment goals into programmes of development aid. The ILO, finally, should help international actors to formulate and implement relevant policy. Switzerland was working to strengthen the capacity of the ILO in that area, as well as others, and invited other States to do so, as well.
MEIRAV EILON SHAHAR ( Israel) said that States could facilitate productive employment through a variety of long-term investments, including in education and infrastructure. Near-term policy options might include, among others, promoting entrepreneurship. Governments should note that small and medium-sized enterprises accounted for the vast majority of businesses worldwide and usually generated the lion’s share of jobs. States should, therefore, fully explore the employment potential of that sector, she said.
Turning to Israel’s experience in the area, she said that, among other initiatives, last year the Government had adopted a wide-ranging programme, The Socio-economic Agenda of Israel (2008-2010), which set out the nation’s path to reducing poverty, maintaining economic growth and increasing participation in the workforce. It also set out measurable goals to gauge its success. She went on to say that, in 2007, Israel had seen its employment rate fall to its lowest point in years, even as its economy grew by some 5.3 per cent. In spite of that, the country’s widening inequality gap remained a persistent problem. The National Agenda set out short- and long-term strategies to address that issue, chiefly through a plan to increase participation in the labour market, while decreasing the unemployment rate.
She said that Israel’s National Employment Service implemented many of the programmes enabling job-seekers to qualify for, find, and keep, decent work. That Service placed special attention on minorities, such as Israel’s Arab population, which made up some 20 per cent of the country’s citizenry. And with the rate at which Arab women entered the workforce particularly low, special programmes for Arab women offered career counselling, job training and instruction in entrepreneurial skills. In addition, the Service also ran job development centres geared specifically to Israel’s Ethiopian immigrant population.
Finally, she said that “decent” work implies sustainable work, and all Governments must consider the environment and the toll being taken on the world’s ecosystems. The time had past when everyone could put economic development first and worry about the resultant environmental degradation later. She noted, in that regard, that the ILO report on “green jobs” stressed the need to de-link development and economic growth from the current modes of energy consumption. She said that decent employment also had implications for regional stability and international security. States needed to recognize that decent work anchored people to their societies and gave them a stake in the future of their countries. Disaffected, unskilled, hopeless youth were prime targets for extremist rhetoric, she asserted.
MUHAMMAD ALI SORCAR ( Bangladesh) said it was evident that economic growth alone could not ensure sufficient job creation. Thus, the goals of full employment and decent work should be incorporated into national development and poverty eradication strategies. He said his country was pursuing the goal of accelerated poverty reduction, along with increased employment, through four broad-based polices: increasing economic growth through self-employment and entrepreneurship; giving priority to growth-oriented sectors; implementing targets in poverty reduction and social safety-net programmes; and augmenting investment in education, health and the nutrition sectors.
Part of this effort included ensuring the participation and empowerment of marginalized sectors of the poor, he said. Efforts were being made to bring Bangladesh’s 45 million youth into the mainstream. Rural development programmes were promoting non-farm activities to diversify rural employment. Microcredit schemes were also being used to generate employment. Noting that his country had made progress in social and human development indices, he said it had participated in the ILO’s Decent Work Pilot Project from 2002 to 2006 and was currently implementing its own work programme. While a niche in the unskilled and semi-skilled labour market had been created, unemployment continued to be a huge impediment to social development. Migration was still a chief area of concern and the protection of migrant workers’ rights was not yet ensured. Also, because they could not increase full and effective employment on their own, the least developed countries needed adequate financial and technical assistance to create a truly favourable international economic environment.
LEYSA SOW ( Senegal) said her country had developed a favourable environment for social policy, having ratified various international and subregional instruments, within a framework of ongoing consultations on essential social and economic development issues. In partnership with the United Nations, Senegal had drawn up a 10-year plan for family and social development, which contained strategies to guide social justice.
In that framework, a poverty reduction strategy had been developed, she said, and the Government had taken important measures to strengthen good governance. The strengthening of the rule of law -- which guaranteed fair growth -- had become a reality. Further, the Government had designed a social policy based on transparency, partnerships to fight poverty, promotion of social services and elimination of all forms of discrimination. Such choices stemmed from the country’s belief that human rights were crucial for promoting social justice.
Regarding employment, she said proactive job creation policies had been established. A national employment fund promoted entrepreneurship among young people, while a female entrepreneur fund encouraged employment among women. At the same time, however, achieving full employment depended on a country’s macroeconomic situation. The inequity of the world trade regime loomed heavily over fragile economic balances and threatened to wipe out progress made thus far in many developing countries. Such a situation had led to mass immigration flows and a rural exodus, which destabilized a country’s social fabric.
JAIME HERMIDA ( Nicaragua) said that globalization, free-market policies and neo-liberal expansion had contributed to unequal growth and inequitable distribution of resources worldwide. Those imbalances were most evident in the current job market, as growth trends had failed to generate enough decent work for all. Countries in Latin America were pursuing an alternative that deserved due consideration: the Agreement for the creation of the Bolivarian Alternative for the Peoples of Our America.
That trade and economic integration plan, launched by Bolivia, Nicaragua, Venezuela and Cuba, was an attempt to answer the cries of the people of the region to reverse decades of policies that had led to marginalization. Indeed, Latin America and the Caribbean were now witnessing historic social and political changes that aimed to ensure, once and for all, that humankind was not in the service of the economy, but that the economy was in the service of humankind.
Nicaragua, for its part, was targeting women and children in its social programmes. For example, Nicaragua was pursing macro-policies to stimulate job growth, as well as the creation of jobs that helped drive the economy. He said that supposed free-market rules had actually entrenched an unfair economic trading system, by which developed countries abused the very rules they had adopted. It was urgently necessary to have fair trade, and solidarity that would benefit workers in both developed and developing countries, in order to achieve social justice.
MARIE YVETTE BANZON-ABALOS ( Philippines) said that her country’s President had enacted a 10-point development agenda that had pledged to, among other things, create 6 million to 10 million jobs by promoting and supporting small-enterprise development, as well as strengthening agri-business sectors. In the past seven years, the Government had created nearly 7 million jobs, which had been one of the main reasons for the 7.1 per cent growth of the Philippines’ economy during the first three quarters of 2007. She said that, even as the economy boomed, the Government was steadily trying to narrow the gap in wages. Unemployment rates had dropped during the past two years, despite the increase in crude oil prices in world markets.
She went on to say that globalization was changing the nature of employment and working conditions worldwide. That phenomenon had led to new challenges, not only regarding the adaptation of jobs to the “business of globalization”, but also in terms of changing demographics and maintaining the welfare of workers. Job displacement was also an outgrowth of globalization. In all this, Governments should step up their efforts to improve workplace standards and uphold the rights of all workers, with due consideration given to formal and non-formal workplace settings, psychological health, and gender issues.
Further, programmes should target youth workers, including through apprenticeship initiatives and long-term training, she said. Innovative schemes such as emergency employment for out-of-school youth must also be considered, she added. Finally, she stressed that the challenges of providing decent work could not be addressed by any single Government or international organization. It required innovative partnerships, including among the United Nations, the ILO, Governments and the donor community.
ROBERT HAGEN (United States), recalling yesterday’s “dramatic” testimony by the representative of Argentina on the role of tripartite social dialogue in the creation of decent work, said the United States supported the ILO’s decent work country programmes as a valuable contribution to broader development frameworks. Integrating those two items should be based on cooperation in the field.
He explained that the role of Government was to create and maintain a climate conducive to economic growth and job creation. While each country faced different circumstances, an environment that promoted entrepreneurship, provided legal protection and regulatory stability for the private sector was essential everywhere. At the same time, job creation must go hand in hand with respect for fundamental principles and rights at work: freedom of association; recognition of the right to collective bargaining; and the elimination of forced or compulsory labour, among other things.
He discussed criteria outlined by a United States foreign assistance programme, the Millennium Challenge Corporation, saying that the rule of law, investment in health and education, and economic freedom were key factors in expanding employment. Where there was transparency, there were more small and medium-sized enterprises, the “real engines” for new jobs. By following those strategies, the United States economy had experience steady job growth in recent years. His country’s challenge was to help workers update their skills to ensure access to job training and successfully compete for jobs. The goal was to link employers, educational providers and Government programmes to train workers for jobs that were in demand.
National policies that promoted economic growth and free enterprise helped ensure the employability of young men and women, while the creation of opportunities for older workers, such as part-time work, was essential. Each country was responsible for fostering conditions that favoured growth within its borders, and policies that encouraged job creation, accountability and the rule of law were the best way to ensure that the gains of the globalized economy would be shared by all. Further, policies to combat human trafficking and end corruption must begin at home.
Ms. GONZALEZ-FURLONG ( Mexico) said her delegation welcomed the relevant reports before the Commission because they favoured plans and schemes that Mexico believed were critical to ensuring the promotion of full employment and decent work. Those included, among others, targeted macroeconomic polices, rural enterprise development, education and long-term training for all, especially women and youth. She added that, while Governments were chiefly responsible for addressing national employment situations and conditions, international financial institutions must also do their part to help countries generate productive and gainful employment.
She went on to say that Mexico’s vision for ensuring decent work and gainful employment included the elaboration and full implementation of policies that stimulated specific sectors within countries and drove socio-economic development. It also favoured a focus on efforts to improve employment situations in rural areas, since most informal work was centred there. The promotion of decent work was one of the key priorities for the region of the Americas. The countries of that region had established an agenda to set up labour market guidelines. It aimed to, among other things, assist people in entering the job market who could not do so on their own.
LIU ZHENMIN ( China) said realizing full employment and decent work for all, while also promoting sustainable development and creating an equitable world, was a daunting task. Employment generation should come through economic growth, as development was the fundamental way to resolve the employment issue. Efforts should be focused on pursuing sustainable development, which was an important precondition for decent work. Stressing that social security systems should be established and improved, he said Governments should use legal and institutional mechanisms to ensure gender equality in employment, preserve workers’ dignity and make the fruits of development available to all.
Resolving the problem of the rural population’s employment was an “indispensable part” of the overall effort to promote full employment, he said. Governments should increase investment in rural areas and agricultural development and provide farmers with more resources, technologies and training. At the same time, more jobs should be created during the urbanization process to address the challenges of surplus labour from the rural areas. Calling the development of small and medium-sized enterprises a “new bright spot” in the promotion of full employment, he said these types of enterprises were the most dynamic and innovative part and held the key to employment generation.
The key to decent work for developing countries lay in full productive employment and an improved employment environment that provided respect for and protection of the basic right of workers to work, he said. To that end, the international community should pay attention to developing countries’ needs. Noting that the Chinese Government had set the goal of achieving more adequate employment through a development strategy that put employment issues at its core, he said it had managed to combine economic development with social progress. While it had a goal of achieving comparatively full social employment by 2020, his country still faced grave difficulties, due to its economic transformation and huge population. Still, it was willing to work with the international community to promote global economic and social development that realized the goal of full employment and decent work for all.
S.K. SAHA, Joint Adviser in the Planning Commission of India, associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said the latest statistics suggested that 1.3 billion people were underemployed. Against that backdrop, global economic output had increased by 3.8 per cent per year, and developing countries faced a major challenge in both counteracting “jobless” growth and reconciling market forces. Indeed, globalization forced inefficient enterprises to shut down under competitive pressure and, as such, active labour-market policies empowering the marginalized were necessary to combat social exclusion.
On trade, he said barriers and unfair practices had slackened employment growth in developing countries. Farmers’ livelihoods continued to be destroyed through well-known subsidies in the developed world. Small and medium-sized enterprises must be made more productive and the “enormous” potential of microfinance schemes should be tapped. As private enterprise found it difficult to take account of the social costs of unemployment, he urged developing public-private sector partnerships to promote corporate social responsibility.
In India, employment creation was the thrust of economic planning, he said, describing numerous national initiatives, including a “national common minimum programme”, which worked to improve workers’ lives in the “unorganized” sector. A skill development initiative had also been launched to train 1 million people in the next five years. Recent measures taken to improve social protection included the launch of a national health insurance scheme for families living below the poverty line. At the national and international levels, an enabling environment for promoting full employment and decent work must be urgently created.
ILEANA NÚÑEZ MORDOCHE (Cuba), supporting the statement of Antigua and Barbuda on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, said that the unfortunate world employment situation had been caused by an unjust international economic order, based on unsustainable neo-liberal globalization. Financial speculation had turned the world into a giant casino and had unleashed crises, continuous mass migration, climate change, political instability and other ills. Meanwhile, a small group of wealthy nations enjoyed and spread unsustainable consumption patterns, while maintaining policies that prevented progress that could lead to full employment in developing countries.
Despite the imposition of a blockade on Cuba, social expenditure there was harmonized with economic growth as a comprehensive development strategy, she said. With 7.5 per cent growth last year, the unemployment rate dropped to 1.9 per cent and social protections were universal. New training strategies were coordinated with employment. However, both national and international factors were essential for the creation of a macroeconomic environment that contributed to full, productive employment. For that reason, it was essential to follow up on the commitments made in Copenhagen. Unfortunately, a few selfish countries were trying to avoid such commitments by pushing social development to the background. In that light, the countries of the South must remain united in fighting for a better and more equal world for all.
NAJALA AWAD ( Sudan) said that this session of the Commission aimed to achieve the goals set out at Copenhagen in 1995 and the United Nations World Summit in 2005. The reports before the Commission highlighted troubling trends in the current world employment situation, particularly for women. She said that since her country had signed the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, it had begun actively working to improve socio-economic conditions. Among other things, she said that wells had been dug and dams had been built.
To encourage rural development, extensive skills training programmes had been launched. Significant efforts had been undertaken to stimulate small business opportunities, as well as to help smooth the transition of Sudanese youth into the job market. The Government was also undertaking socio-economic development schemes in the Western Darfur region. The Sudan’s efforts had also targeted persons with disabilities and the Government was actively working to ensure that such persons had access to the labour market. At the same time, she said that national efforts were “but a drop in the bucket” and the international community must assist developing countries’ efforts to create decent work and improve socio-economic development, including in the areas of capacity-building and skills training.
EDINE MAGESHO (United Republic of Tanzania) said his country had embraced the employment and decent work agenda as a social commitment to the development and well-being of its people. An employment creation strategy had been developed and was being implemented. While it aimed to create 1 million jobs by 2010, improving the quality of those jobs remained a challenge. With the support of the ILO, the Government had also developed a decent work promotion programme that would reduce poverty by creating decent work opportunities for young men and women, in particular. It would also reduce the incidence of child labour, while also mitigating the socio-economic impact of HIV/AIDS. The Ministry of Labour, Employment and Youth Development had been designated the coordinating ministry to work with other sectors and ensure policy coherence.
Stressing that small and medium-sized enterprises were instrumental in employment creation, she said Tanzania had put policies in place to promote such enterprises. It was also focusing on the challenges posed by low education and skill levels by strengthening the folk development colleges to provide demand-driven training and skills development.
The full employment and decent work agenda should be domesticated according each country’s economic development priorities, she said. In this, it should be recognized that the capacity of the private sector was instrumental in economic development and policies enhancing that capacity and promoting public-private partnership should be developed. Also, because youth unemployment remained a problem and had the potential to threaten peace and security, focusing on a youth employment network action plan was crucial. Cross-cutting issues like gender, HIV/AIDS, and environmental concerns should also be incorporated into employment and decent work strategies.
SUSANTI HERLAMBANG, Director for Service and Social Rehabilitation in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Indonesia, said that in all countries, particularly developing countries, the issue of quality job creation demanded close attention, through, among others, the formulation and implementation of sustainable policies and programmes that addressed unemployment, which was often the cause of widespread poverty. That was the case for Indonesia, which had responded by basing its development process on strong economic growth, sustainable job creation and poverty alleviation, especially in rural areas. As a result, various policies had been enacted to achieve those goals, including those that promoted the development of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, as well as cooperatives.
She said that, because of Indonesia’s efforts to involve all segments of society in productive economic activity, economic growth had increased from 5.5 to 6.6 per cent in the past few years. Still, the Government was aware that economic growth alone could not address all unemployment challenges. Indonesia believed, therefore, that the necessary approach should penetrate all aspects of policy- and decision-making. To that end, earlier this year, Indonesia’s President sought to address the issue by formulating employment policies that sought to ensure, among other things, effective utilization of vocational training centres in coordination with other educational institutions; the promotion of good industrial relations among workers’ organizations, employers and the Government; and better protection for Indonesian migrant workers.
She went on to say that international donors could help developing countries address the issue of unemployment. In addition, the international environment should support development through free and fair trade, greater debt forgiveness and increased official development assistance. She also said that, for its part, the Commission should continue to prioritize efforts to strengthen national capacities. Moreover, there should be greater efforts taken to mainstream the goals of full employment and decent work for all in the policies and programmes of the United Nations.
CELESTINO MIGLIORE, Permanent Observer for the Holy See, stressing two key aspects of the item under consideration, said the lack of full employment and its associated poverty and social disintegration offended human dignity. Second, the trust of the people could only be achieved by listening to them and taking their needs into account.
As the world economic situation presented challenges to achieving full employment and decent work for all, the Commission was pressed to focus on effective ways to protect low-income families and workers from financial collapse. Assisting them was both a question of justice and a financially sound measure to stimulate international trade. Such assistance could only be effective if measures taken by stronger economies did not exacerbate the situation in developing countries. As that risk loomed large, it was incumbent on international forums to provide a platform for the poor, as they were often left voiceless in the search for solutions to problems that deeply mattered to them.
Governments’ responses to globalization must be guided by the “moral tenet” that a good society is measured by the extent to which those with responsibility attended to those most in need. He stressed that trust earned, rather than given, among all parties was essential in the area of employment, as poverty, unemployment and social disintegration were “by-products of distrust”. People discovered meaning and confidence when they found long-term work with the opportunity for promotion.
ROBERT MORÉE, Senior Policy Adviser, International Affairs, Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment of the Netherlands, fully aligning himself with the European Union, said decent work was a source of personal dignity, family stability and economic growth that expanded opportunities for productive enterprise development. That concept had led to an international consensus that decent work was a key element in achieving fair globalization. Indeed, it called for integrating economic and social objectives, and the Netherlands was pleased that the European Union encouraged the ILO to continue its efforts towards increasing social protection coverage.
On the report’s recommendation to consider extending coverage to people in the informal sector, he said such a step would strengthen the social protection pillar of the ILO’s decent work agenda. His country recommended that the Commission place that issue -- and promotion of a “global social floor” -- high on its political agenda. A concerted effort of the whole United Nations system was a prerequisite for reaching the goal of decent work. Nationally, Governments should strive for coherent policies, and work with international organizations to develop a “tailor-made approach” for reducing the social security deficit, and promoting labour rights for people in the informal sector. Finally, he stressed the importance of social dialogue as a “flexible” tool enabling Governments, employers and workers’ organizations to manage change. Such cooperation was crucial for success.
TEDDY KASONSO (Zambia), aligning his country with the statement made on behalf of the Group of 77 and China and the statement he had delivered earlier on behalf of Southern African Development Community (SADC), said that, because growing gross domestic product had not translated into more job opportunities in Zambia, job creation remained a high priority for the Government. Although it had ratified a major convention promoting fundamental rights in the workplace, a significant number of citizens who worked in the informal sector did not enjoy their protections. Further, the inability of the economy to generate jobs had left job seekers -- particularly young people, persons with disabilities and other vulnerable groups -- without opportunities.
Recognizing that promoting full employment and decent work were an effective and sustainable solution in fighting poverty, the Government had instituted pro-employment policies, he said. Some aimed at creating the right environment for investment, infrastructure development and economic growth generated by the private sector. Others aimed at reducing the levels of unemployment and underage employment. The Government had also continued to review labour-related laws to harmonize them with new trends in the labour market. It was further addressing discriminatory laws and practices and empowering youth with the necessary skills to compete in the labour market.
WAHEED ABDULWAHAB AHMED AL-SHAMI ( Yemen), fully aligning himself with the Group of 77 and China, said recent years had witnessed an increased focus on development. However, poverty, hunger and unemployment were still stumbling blocks to achieving the desired objectives. Regarding employment and decent work, he said the Government was implementing a two-track, five-year plan for the 2006-2010 period. The first track encouraged progress in all economic fields, in part by mobilizing the private sector. The second track aimed to reduce unemployment by expanding employment opportunities for, and improving the living standards of, the most vulnerable groups. In that context, he also highlighted the national strategy for the development of small and medium-sized enterprises.
The adoption of the Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities was also an important development, he said, adding that Yemen was among its first signatories. The country had created a law on the rehabilitation of people with disabilities and a national committee for people with disabilities had been established.
Yemen gave its full attention to elderly people, who represented 3.43 per cent of the population, he continued. The Government had issued a report on the elderly last June and was undertaking measures for their full social protection. In that connection, the country had also sponsored a regional conference on the elderly last November. In closing, he reiterated the call to rich nations to contribute to development in poor countries, particularly through debt cancellation measures.
CHANG JAE-BOK, Director for Human Rights and Social Affairs, Republic of Korea, said the Secretary-General’s reports rightly note that the global informalization of employment and “jobless growth” were linked to “de-industrialization”, a phenomenon that had become characteristic of all developed countries. That trend also meant that each country should pay closer attention to social protections for workers in the informal economy.
He said that jobless growth was evident in his country and it had become clear that economic planning and employment strategies centred on growth proved to have limitations. Recognizing the seriousness of the trend, representatives of labour, management and the Government had signed the Social Pact for Job Creation. In 2004, the Government had established comprehensive measures for job creation and had invested some $7 billion in that plan through 2007. Both those measures were aimed at building an employment support infrastructure to help promote skills development, create social service jobs, and upgrade youth career guidance services.
Turning to the Republic of Korea’s efforts to address gender discrimination, he said the Equal Employment Act had been revised to prohibit indirect discrimination. Further, in 2005, the Affirmative Action Plan to improve employment practice, mainly targeting female employment, had been introduced. As a result, real steps were being taken to reduce indirect forms of discrimination against women in employment. He went on to stress that his Government recognized that, in order to be competitive in the twenty-first century, nations needed to fully utilize women in their workforces. To that end, the Government was increasing its commitment to addressing gender discrimination in employment and fostering an environment conducive to job creation for women.
FAITH INNERARITY (Jamaica), aligning herself with the statement of the Group of 77 and China, said the decent work agenda incorporating employment creation, workers’ rights, social protection, social dialogue and equal opportunities, provided an excellent framework for ensuring policy coherence in the economic and social spheres. That integrated approach had been fully embraced by Jamaica and other countries in the Caribbean in the implementation of various economic development initiatives, including those involving foreign direct investment or multilateral agreements. Her country, for instance, ensured that major expansion projects in the tourism sector were not at the expense of environmental sustainability or workers’ rights.
She said that national, regional and international challenges to the decent work agenda included: the increasing size and complexity of the informal sector; high levels of youth unemployment; labour migration issues; retraining; discrimination against persons with disabilities; and gender inequalities. The Secretary-General’s report provided a useful set of policy recommendations that could be adopted. Other essential strategies and approaches necessary for the successful achievement of the decent work agenda included direct and special focus on the causes of youth unemployment and best practices to eliminate that problem, as well as the mainstreaming of gender, age and disability in all employment policies.
* *** *For information media • not an official record