Trade Union Meeting of Experts on the Post-2015 Developement Agenda: Concluding Statement of Mr. Luc Cortebeeck

Statement | Geneva | 22 May 2013
Mr Director General,
Mr Brent Wilton, Secretary General of the IOE
Dear Dan,
Dear Sisters and Brothers,

Since yesterday, we have been meeting to discuss the progress countries have made to meet the Millennium Development Goals, and the challenge of the Post-2015 development agenda.

The fact that discussion on the Post-2015 development agenda is taking place in a context of a multiplicity of crises is important. We are living through a crisis of poverty; an environmental crisis; a crisis of the global economy; and an employment crisis in both developing and developed countries. This has influenced our thinking and our conclusions.

Yes, some progress has been achieved in meeting the MDGs. But this progress has been uneven and is fragile. Furthermore, the MDGs have failed to tackle the root causes of poverty in the developing world. Today some 1.3 billion people still live in extreme poverty and 870 million go hungry every day. So the current consultations on the Post-2015 development agenda are crucial and need the full engagement of the social partners and the ILO.

That is why we agree on the need for a paradigm shift in development model and in development policy. We cannot have business as usual. We must work hard to get the Post-2015 framework to shift the development paradigm towards an inclusive, sustainable and employment-centred development path.

So, we believe that the Post-2015 global development compact must be based on a number of key principles:
  • There must be a shift from a concern for poverty reduction to a focus on development which will lead to the total eradication of extreme poverty.
  • The Post-2015 agenda must secure freedom from want – food; water; education; etc. But it must also secure freedom from fear : human rights, participation; rule of law; accountability;
  • In the face of increasing inequalities within countries and between countries, we must seek to reduce inequalities and secure inclusive development.
  • Issues of sustainability must be mainstreamed in all future goals;
  • The Post-2015 development agenda must converge with the Rio+20 outcome document in a set of Sustainable Development Goals covering all countries - both developed and developing.
  • Principles of country-ownership, policy space and the participation of relevant non-state actors in the process must be adopted;
  • The governance of the Post-2015 framework must be binding and subject to accountable monitoring. 
Against this background, this meeting endorses the inclusion of the following goals, as a minimum, within the Post-2015 development agenda:

a) Firstly, Eradicate poverty and hunger:

The focus must no longer be on reducing extreme poverty but rather on eradicating it. For developing countries this means eradicating extreme poverty. For middle income and industrialised countries, this must also be translated into social inclusion of vulnerable groups and targets for the eradication of working poverty and precarity, based on relative poverty rates.

Development that is sustainable and structurally lifts people out of poverty, has to be based on a process of structural transformation and the creation of higher value added production in developing countries. Such a transformation requires active government policies in the form of industrial policies. Therefore, targets on structural transformation need to be included in the agenda.

b) Secondly, the meeting of experts is in favour of a goal on full and productive employment and decent work for all, including women and young people:

This is a matter for priority attention of the ILO and its constituents. However, we must underline that we mean Decent Work – not only employment. So all the 4 elements of Decent Work must be included in the targets set:

We welcome the fact that the ILO Governing Body has already endorsed this idea. So under the Decent Work Goal, we must set targets for:
  • Employment which include quality of employment, and targets on youth employment, women and green jobs.
  • Targets must also be set for the Social protection floor in line with Recommendation 202;
  • Targets must also be set for the Fundamental rights at work. On freedom of association and collective bargaining, we already have a target on the universal ratification of conventions 87 and 98 which we must energise. On child labour, the ILO already has the target to eliminate all the Worst forms of child labour by 2016. On discrimination, we endorse the MDG targets as well as other targets like reducing the gender pay gap. On forced labour, we now have statistics on forced labour based on which we can set targets for its eradication.
  • On Social Dialogue, targets should be set in relation to tripartism, freedom of association, collective bargaining and minimum wage fixing institutions.

Mr Director General, this calls for the active engagement of the ILO in the Post-2015 consultation processes. However, we cannot influence this process, if we do not have formal indicators to measure progress. That is why it is urgent to build on the considerable work already undertaken in the measurement of Decent Work through the decent work indicators, and provide leadership on the inclusion of the four mutually reinforcing pillars of decent work in the Post-2015 development agenda.

Director General, this meeting of Experts is also in favour of the inclusion of a number of other goals in the Post-2015 agenda: These include:

c) Governance: We endorse the inclusion of a goal on governance with targets related to human rights, migrant workers’ rights, participation, civil liberties, transparency, accountability, anti-corruption, and so on.

d) Reducing Income inequalities: We endorse a goal related to reducing income inequalities. Targets could relate to minimum wage fixing; wage share; collective bargaining; equal pay for work of equal value; and so on.

e) Ensure universal free quality education and access to free and quality public services;

f) Promoting gender equality and non-discrimination:

g) Ensuring environmental sustainability:

h) Partnerships and global governance to ensure policy coherence and accountability in the international system.

Brent, we believe that in this agenda, there is a lot that we have in common and that we can agree to work on together.

Director General, all this is a challenge also for the Office:
  • We want the Office to be proud of our heritage, our comparative advantage and our added value and to propagate these in your interactions in the Post-2015 process. Our tripartism, our universal labour standards and our supervisory system could all inspire the future framework for the Post-2015 development agenda;
  • Furthermore, the ILO contribution to the Post-2015 agenda must be a strong rights-based approach;
  • As the Office develops indicators, it must also seek to include qualitative aspects of employment. We do not want any jobs; we want quality jobs, decent jobs.
  • We call for support to the tripartite partners – especially the social partners – to include Post-2015 issues in national social dialogue processes;
  • We want strong Office engagement with the social partners in this process to ensure full participation of trade unions, and we call for extra resources to support trade unions in their advocacy work.
Director General, in the face of a multiplicity of crises facing humanity, we cannot have business as usual. The ILO Workers’ Group is committed to work with others on this and to fight for a more inclusive, sustainable and employment-centred development.