The Director of International Labour Organization Says Workers Are Being “Squeezed,” Calls for Social Justice

June 7, 2011
Director-General Juan Somavia called on employers and governments to commit to a new era of social justice in his opening remarks at the 100th International Labour Conference in Geneva.

“Our world of work is in turmoil,” Somavia said. “It is urgent to commit to a new era of social justice, of growth with social justice based on sustainable development.”

Somavia said the world of work was facing multiple crises, including the marginalization of small businesses, which employ the largest number of people in the world, an unacceptably high rate of inappropriate child and youth employment and what he called “indecent levels” of income and wealth concentration.

“No wonder people are upset and angry,” Somavia said. “Too many feel squeezed – including the middle classes – between the immediate social impact of the [economic] crisis and these long-term trends.”

He added that people also are angry over the perception that some financial institutions are regarded as “too big to fail” while most workers are seen as “too small to matter.”

He warned that consolidation of inefficient growth patterns and unfair globalization rules were at the root of the world’s economic meltdown, and “systematically increased inequality almost everywhere in the last 30 years. Slipping back into business as usual will lead us all, sooner rather than later, into another crisis.”

About the Author

Sandy Smith

Sandy Smith is the former content director of EHS Today, and is currently the EHSQ content & community lead at Intelex Technologies Inc. She has written about occupational safety and health and environmental issues since 1990.

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