On this day we honour workers: People who have formal employment, those who have informal employment, unpaid workers – often women – who work invisibly in households, and those who work unpaid in our communities. We honour people seeking work, and people who believe that their creativity is their work. All workers deserve rights that allow them to live in security and with dignity.
The 1st of May should be a time when all workers are able to celebrate the consolidation of their rights, living wages and benefits, improved working conditions, and the protection of their pensions. But unfortunately, on 1st of May Day 2014, majority of the world’s workers do not have such rights. Most live without legislated labour standards, and without social systems to provide for them when they are sick or when things go wrong.
Social workers in many countries work tirelessly for the realisation of workers rights. For example, the IFSW member organisation in Bangladesh has been campaigning for years on the need to improve protection for workers and their families, well before the Rana Plaza factory disaster which hit the world’s headlines a few months ago. Talking with their Secretary General immediately after the disaster brought home to me even more clearly the need for a global framework of labour standards. Decent work is of central importance to individual and community wellbeing. We know that people’s attempts to establish better lives for themselves and their children are made impossible by the lack of basic workplace rights. This is made so much more difficult in today’s global market, which is why we need global regulation.
The global principles of social work highlight the importance of respect for all people and ‘self-determination’ – the ability for people to have confidence that they can influence their own futures and the right to live in dignity. Evidence from evidence, social work practice experience and basic human values all show that people thrive and are most productive when these principles are respected. Living wages and workers’ rights are essential to make this a reality. IFSW is proud that our member organisations include unions and social work professional associations actively committed to making these principles a reality.
IFSW is campaigning with our global partners for changes in global labour standards as one of the themes in The Global Agenda for Social Work and Social Development. On World Labour Day, we honour the many millions of social workers around the world who stand up for social justice and who work with people and communities to overcome social challenges and build better futures – at work and at home”.