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GLOBALIZATION -
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Globally, Decent Work Still the Exception to the Rule

Posted in the database on Thursday, May 18th, 2006 @ 10:14:21 MST (1382 views)
by Szamko    Guerilla News Network  

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Summary:

“Since 1995, an additional 34.4 million people have fallen into the category of the unemployed, particularly in the developing South, Akram said. And nearly half of all paid workers do not earn more than two dollars per day, while about one-fifth earn less than a dollar a day, according to International Labour Organisation (ILO) statistics.”

“Policymakers have not yet adequately caught up with the fact that it is not inflation which is the main problem today,” Diane Elson, co-director of the Programme on Gender Equality and the Economy at Bard College in New York, told IPS. “It is unemployment and the lack of decent work.”

Amen to that, now lets see the UN listening to social movements who have been arguing this for years, and doing something about it.

[Posted By Szamko]

__________________

By Lisa Söderlindh
Republished from
IPS News

U.N. forum reports that neo-liberal era has been a total failure for the poor, and urges change

More than a decade after the U.N. World Summit for Social Development in Copenhagen, where leaders first voiced the need to put decent employment at the centre of development, joblessness continues to rise, reaching new heights of nearly 192 million people in 2005.

“The political declarations on employment creation as key to fighting poverty have not been translated into actions,” said Janvier Désiré Nkurunziza of the U.N. Economic Commission for Africa, at a development forum convened by the U.N. Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA).

Despite international commitments made over the last decade and reaffirmed at the 2005 U.N. World Summit, the need to put productive employment at the forefront of economic and social policies, and to achieve not only the primary Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of cutting poverty in half by 2015, but to reach an array of internationally agreed development goals, remains sidestepped, noted panelists at the DESA forum.

Women are still excluded at all levels, with inequalities in education, training and recruitment underlying persistent gender wage gaps throughout the world. Over the last decade, unemployment among women increased by 13.2 million, reaching 77.9 million in 2004.

“A coherent and coordinated approach to address the challenges of unemployment and decent work is needed more than ever,” said Pakistan’s U.N. ambassador, Munir Akram.

The DESA forum was called to lay the groundwork for a high-level meeting of the U.N.’s Economic and Social Council on full and productive employment and decent work, to be held in July this year.

Since 1995, an additional 34.4 million people have fallen into the category of the unemployed, particularly in the developing South, Akram said. And nearly half of all paid workers do not earn more than two dollars per day, while about one-fifth earn less than a dollar a day, according to International Labour Organisation (ILO) statistics.

“Policymakers have not yet adequately caught up with the fact that it is not inflation which is the main problem today,” Diane Elson, co-director of the Programme on Gender Equality and the Economy at Bard College in New York, told IPS. “It is unemployment and the lack of decent work.”

Failing to revise economic and social policies accordingly, at both the national and international levels, means a continuation of “wasted lives”, argued Elson, pointing at the despair and misery emerging from not having a decent job.

While access to health and social services is considered one of the basic pillars of decent work, and is universally accepted as a human right, “Eighty percent of the world’s population lives in a state of social insecurity,” said Michael Cichon, director of the ILO’s Social Security Department.

“Social security for all should be accepted as a global responsibility,” Cichon said.

Experts at the panel noted that the neo-liberal model of globalisation has fuelled economic growth in many countries, but as often as not, it has failed to generate decent jobs or ease poverty and social insecurity.

This political-economic philosophy focuses on promoting free markets and lifting trade barriers, reducing the role of national governments in the economy, and cutting public spending on social services.

But looking at the result of the so-called Washington Consensus, the dominant development strategy promoted by neo-liberals, “Out of the six developing regions of the contemporary world, only in the East and South Asian regions has there been some decent growth,” said Azizur Khan, a visiting professor at Columbia University, citing World Bank figures.

And while countries like India, China and Vietnam have performed well in terms of gross domestic product (GDP), “they cannot under any kind of reasonable logic be described as having pursued the policies prescribed by the Washington Consensus”, and their distribution of income has been very unequal, he went on.

Using the example of India, Prabhat Patnaik, a professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, said unemployment has risen sharply in recent years, especially in rural areas. The annual job growth rate of 0.58 percent between 1993 and 1999 was far below rural population growth, he noted.

Contributing to the worsened employment scenario “is the sharp cutback in government expenditure in the countryside”, he went on, noting that this is the flip side of the “neo-liberal coin”.

Stressing the need for strengthened development strategies and economic policies, Nkurunziza pointed out that Africa is the only region where poverty rates have steadily increased over the last three decades, according to the ILO, with 46 percent of the total population still earning less than one dollar a day.

“Africa’s high poverty rates are the result of past economic policies that have neglected rural economies,” he said, particularly “the incapacity to create a high number of decent jobs to cope with the increasing numbers of the labour force”.

The fact that 70 percent of poor Africans live in rural areas and 90 percent depend on agriculture for their livelihoods “will need to be reflected in development strategies”, said Nkurunziza.

According to the outcome document of the DESA meeting, the rural poor should be helped to secure rights to land and access to other resources, including water and forest genetic resources.

It calls for employment policies to be made central to poverty reduction strategy papers, greater investments in education, including vocational training for youth, wider access to credit and information technologies, and “phasing trade reform carefully to ensure that labour markets are prepared at each step”.

Today, “Most people agree that whatever growth the neo-liberal policies have brought, it has excluded large number of people,” Patnaik told IPS.

“But whereas there is a view that it can be rectified within the neo-liberal paradigm, I don’t believe that is possible,” he added.

Patnaik underscored that investment in social services and job security should be seen as an effective tool rather than a fiscal burden, stressing the need to modernise the rapidly growing informal sector and take into account gender differences in employment and unemployment.



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