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Vatican Convenes with Labour Leaders to Discuss Threats to the World of Work


Brussels, 11 January 2018 (ITUC OnLine): An international meeting of more than 300 trade union leaders convened by the Dicastery for promoting integral human development and hosted by the Vatican has called on intellectuals, business leaders, employers, civil society, international organisations and governments to act in solidarity for integral, inclusive and sustainable development, with "work, land and housing for all."


The summary of the two-day discussion is reflected in a statement on peace, democracy and human rights endorsed by the Vatican and labour leaders. It recognises the centrality of the human person and the right to decent work with universal labour standards for all people.


The current model of globalisation has failed working people and resulted in historic levels of inequality which, when combined with digitalisation and climate change, presents a number of disturbing issues for working people. Human mobility is one of the most serious challenges of our times. Millions of women, men and children are forced to leave their own home and families because of wars, hunger and poverty.

The statement will form the basis for negotiating a new social contract between governments, business and workers. The following were agreed:

- Freedom of association and collective bargaining are a fundamental human right.
- The global wages campaign of the trade unions is essential to ensure that no worker is paid below the minimum wage that ensures workers can live with dignity.
- Universal social protection and the guarantee of vital public services are essential.
- The politics of extremism including xenophobia, racism and all forms of exclusion must be rejected if we are to achieve the common good.

The increase in automatisation, individualisation, inequality, precarity, mass unemployment, poverty and the phenomena of exclusion and the "discarding" of people puts the "common home" at risk. These trends present serious challenges for all social and institutional players and in particular for the world of work.

"Trade unions welcome the leadership voice of Pope Francis standing for rights and equality of all people and the defence of our common home. In an increasingly fractured world, where there are few courageous government leaders who put people first, all faith leaders need to join with labour unions and civil society to negotiate a peaceful and socially just world. This year's 70th Anniversary of the UN Declaration of Human Rights is significant, and this statement provides the basis for an inclusive model of development with the dignity of decent work.


"Human beings need to create their lives and the possibilities for a fair and prosperous community life through their labour, and economic forces need to be placed at the service of humanity with respect for the environment. If we don't build a shared and sustainable future and protect and preserve the rights and opportunities for future generations, we fail to uphold our values," said Sharan Burrow, General Secretary, International Trade Union Confederation.


Read the statement Work and Worker Organisations at the Centre of Integral and Sustainable Development: