World Day of Social Justice 2015

“There is no inevitability, no excuse: Forced labour can be stopped”

ILO Director-General Guy Ryder vows ILO leadership in fight against forced labour on World Day of Social Justice.

Statement | 20 February 2015
World Day of Social Justice should galvanize action against poverty and social exclusion. Work done in conditions of freedom, equity, security and human dignity – decent work - is a key to inclusion and it is a conduit of social justice. Yet the global situation gives cause for grave concern.

The economic gap continues to widen, with the richest 10 per cent earning 30 to 40 per cent of total income while the poorest 10 per cent earn between 2 and 7 per cent.

In 2013, 939 million workers – 26.7 per cent of total employment, were still coping on US$2 a day or less. Millions of young people facing a future of unemployment or working poverty are losing hope in promises of economic and social progress.

The situation is aggravated by the widespread absence of basic social protection. Millions of people are subjected to unacceptable conditions of work and the denial of fundamental rights.

This year, the UN is putting the spotlight on human trafficking and modern slavery – a fundamental right and freedom denied.

Today, about 21 million women, men and children are forced to work under inhuman conditions on farms, in sweatshops, on board fishing vessels, in the sex industry or in private homes. Their sweat generates US$ 150 billion in illegal profits annually.

Women and children are particularly at risk of being abducted and sold into slavery in times of violent conflict. In some instances, forced labour keeps entire families and communities in abject poverty for generations.

There is growing recognition that the situation must change and good experience in documenting and tackling forced labour is accumulating.

Ending forced labour calls for integrated approaches. Governments, employers and their organizations, trade unions and civil society organizations, each have a role to play in protecting, defending and empowering those who are vulnerable, as well as creating opportunities for decent work for all.

The 2014 Protocol to the ILO Forced Labour Convention (No. 29) sets out preventive measures that can be taken and also calls on governments to ensure that victims of forced labour have access to effective remedies, such as compensation.

There is no inevitability, no excuse: with commitment and the right policies and institutions, forced labour can be stopped. Let us forge alliances to make this a reality
Today the ILO recommits to working for social justice through the world of work.