Work is central to people's well-being. In addition to providing income, work can pave the way for broader social and economic advancement, strengthening individuals, their families and communities. Such progress, however, hinges on work that is decent. Decent work sums up the aspirations of people in their working lives.
The ILO has developed an agenda for the community of work. It provides support through integrated Decent Work Country Programmes developed in coordination with its constituents. Putting the Decent Work Agenda into practice is achieved through the implementation of the ILO's four strategic objectives, with gender equality as a crosscutting objective. You can learn more about the Decent Work Agenda on the ILO’s website.
The Canadian Labour Congress and Canadian unions joined others throughout the world in educating their members about the Decent Work Agenda and engaging them to strengthen their resolve in organizing for change through international solidarity. Some of the highlights are:
The Canadian Labour Congress - together FAIRNESS WORKS
During the week of the World Day for Decent Work (WDDW), the President of the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) addressed a National Summit on Pension Reform in Toronto, bringing together senior leaders from across sectors to explore options for enhancing retirement income security in Canada. The CLC continues to focus on the need to update Canada's pension system, which is embodied as a key issue of its “together FAIRNESS WORKS” initiative. Learn more here.
Quebec Federation of Labour (QFL/FTQ) with the Front de défense des non syndiqués (FDNS) and the Alliance sociale québécoise
On October 7, the FDNS and the Quebec-based Alliance sociale, including unions and other organizations, kicked off a campaign to focus on the rights of migrant workers that will run until December 18, the International Migrants Day. A press event was organized in the morning of October 7, with a mobilization event on the right to decent work for all. The campaign will continue to challenge public policies that promote precarious work. The campaign, “Migrant workers are not commodities” (Travailleuses et travailleurs migrants: pas des marchandises!) will be coordinated until December in concert with the FDNS and the Centre des travailleurs immigrants (CTI). Learn more here.
Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE)
The Canadian Union of Public Employees hosted their first ever National Sector Council Conference from October 6-9, 2014. As economic and political challenges mount, CUPE locals in all sectors are faced with increasingly difficult bargaining.
On the occasion of World Day for Decent Work, this conference was an exciting opportunity to address many themes embedded in the ILO Decent Work Agenda and to improve communications and strategies to build members’ power in our communities and at the bargaining table. Learn more..
National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE)
For October 7, NUPGE posted a special web page message to its members. As part of its “All Together Now!” campaign, NUPGE has been promoting its national Fairness Express bus tour across Canada. The tour is designed as an opportunity to engage Canadians within their communities in a conversation about the challenges faced by growing income inequality in Canada. Learn more here.
Canadian Federation of Musicians
In the weeks leading up to October 7, the Canadian Federation of Musicians expanded the social media aspect of the “Listen Up!” campaign, which asks the entertainment industry in North America to stop the offshoring of work in television and movie music scoring.
Previously, the campaign had focused mostly on how this offshoring has led to a detrimental decline in work for American musicians, which is especially egregious in cases where production companies are receiving state tax credits. The expansion of the campaign introduced the Canadian perspective on the situation, and through social media posts and graphics outlined how these same issues are affecting musicians in Canada. The campaign aims to spread awareness about this problem and helps ensure a sustainable future for Canadian musicians.
Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC)
The Public Service Alliance of Canada has launched “Employment Insurance (EI) in Canada: Hitting Rock Bottom,” a short animated video on the decline of the EI program in Canada over the last 25 years.
Despite Canada’s ratification of the ILO’s Employment Policy Convention 122 and Employment Services Convention 88, the country’s Employment Insurance program continues to be decimated by successive Liberal and Conservative governments to the point where it no longer fulfills its mission to protect Canadian workers from the hardship of unemployment.
The largest private section union in Canada marked the World Day for Decent Work by holding a national “Good Jobs Summit” in Toronto from October 3-5, 2014, to discuss solutions to the stagnating economy, growing precariousness and lack of opportunities for young people.
The Summit was a national opportunity for multi-stakeholder dialogue with workers, students, governments, employers and community organizations. The goal was to explore possible solutions and new approaches to jobs and the economy. Learn more here.
United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW)
To show solidarity in the call for Decent Work, UFCW Canada has encouraged its members to download and share a special poster produced to commemorate this year’s World Day for Decent Work. It has also produced a page on its website to highlight the day.
UFCW has fully embraced the CLC “together FAIRNESS WORKS” initiative, launched by the CLC in 2013, and continues to undertake comprehensive training and outreach workshops that engage its own member activists to stand up against the current anti-worker agenda. Learn more here.
Justice for Workers — Climate Justice
On October 7, the Canadian Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development released a comprehensive report that mainly focused on climate change in Canada. The report was produced by the country’s Auditor General for Parliament, as a basis of independent and reliable recommendations to the federal government for protecting the environment and foster sustainable development.
The Commissioner’s October 7 audit assessed whether federal government departments have met their sustainable development objectives and examined how the Federal government has failed on climate change, the oil sands and the Arctic.
In keeping with the Climate Justice theme for World Day for Decent Work, the CLC used this report to invigorate the preparations for its planned national climate change week of action this December, set to coincide with the United Nations global climate change meeting (COP 20) in Lima, Peru, from December 1 to 12, 2014.
Solidarity with Bangladeshi and Colombian Workers and Trade Unions
The CLC’s Consultation Group (CG) on international affairs has agreed to make Decent Work its umbrella framework for future activities and to engage in solidarity efforts, e.g., with Bangladeshi and Colombian workers as a priority.
During the week of October 7, the CLC put the finishing touches on a video summarizing the activities of the Canadian trade union delegation that went to Bangladesh during the first anniversary of the 2013 Rana Plaza factory collapse. The video is part of a program of work by CLC with its coalition partners to strengthen Canadian support of the Accord for Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh and for proper compensation for the victims and their families. On October 1, the CLC and representatives of other organizations met with Federal government officials to explore how Canada can better support the Rana Plaza Trust Fund.
EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA)
During the period leading up to the October 7, the CLC worked with social partners through the Trade Justice Network to voice its concern about initiating the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) at a summit held for this purpose in Ottawa on September 26.
During the Summit, a news conference and rally was organized and the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) issued a letter to the Canadian Embassy at the EU in Brussels, all of which highlighted that the current draft of the agreement gives priority to investor rights over the rights of workers and their aspirations to decent work and decent lives.