Decent work is a concept introduced in 1999 by the governments and the organizations of workers and employers united within the International Labor Organization, summing up people’s aspirations regarding:
- opportunities for a productive and fairly remunerated work;
- security in the workplace;
- social protection for the family;
- opportunities for professional development and social integration;
- freedom of speech;
- active participation to decision-making;
- equality of opportunity for men and women.
This concept contains four strategic components which apply whether it is about formal or informal economy, salaried or own-account workers, work in agriculture, in a factory, in an office, at home or in the community:
- basic work principles and rights and international work standards;
- employment and remuneration opportunities;
- social protection and security;
- social dialogue and tripartism.
Decent work is essential for the efforts to reduce poverty and provide a durable, inclusive, and fair development.
It is an instrument based on accepting the fact that work is a source of personal dignity, families’ stability, ensuring peace in the community and democracy, which acts in the interest of the citizens, also of an economic development which leads to expanding the opportunities for employment and enterprises’ development.
When decent work principles are not applied, workers face unemployment and underemployment, poor quality of work places, work in unsafe conditions and insecurity of income, infringement of rights and gender inequality. Many immigrant workers are vulnerable and exposed to the risk of exploitation, have no right of representation and of having their say and are not provided with adequate protection against the risk of losing their income due to illness, disability, or advanced age. A few indicators are enough to describe the global consequences of the lack of decent work:
- half of the work force of the planet (1,4 billion persons) earns less than 2 dollars per day.
- only 20% of the world population enjoys adequate social protection, while over half of it has none.
- 200 million children under 15 work instead of going to school.
- 2,2 million workers die annually due to work-related accidents and occupational diseases.
- over 85 million youths aged 15 to 24 from around the world, representing almost half of all persons in search of a work place, are unemployed.
- women are more exposed to the risk of working in the informal economy, with a lower social protection or not at all, and with a greater risk of instability.
- migration for work is on the rise. There are 86 million immigrant workers around the world, 34 million in the developing regions.
- global economic growth fails increasingly in the attempt to create better work places that would lead to reducing poverty.