Trade Union Movement

Trade Unions' engagement is key to implement the UN Reform and the Agenda 2030

On the occasion of the launch of two ACTRAV flagship publications for trade unions, Maria Helena ANDRE, Director of the ILO’s Bureau for Workers’ Activities (ACTRAV) explains why the engagement of trade unions is key for the implementation of UN Reforms and achieving progress on the SDGs. She stresses also the ILO’s expectations vis-à-vis the important role of workers’ organizations in development processes.

News | 15 February 2021
Maria Helena ANDRE, Director of the ILO's Bureau for Workers'Activities (ACTRAV)

ACTRAV INFO: The ILO is launching two key publications for trade unions. Why are the UN Reforms and SDGs so important for trade unions?

Yes, today we are launching two publications with important and interlinked messages for trade union actions.

The first is one of our flagship publications titled United Nations Sustainable Development Cooperation and the Decent Work Agenda: A trade union reference manual. The ILO Centenary Declaration for the Future of Work stresses the importance of multilateralism and the need for the office to play its role in ensuring policy coherence within the multilateral system. It is therefore in line with this mandate that the publication is aimed at expanding the knowledge base of workers on the interlinkages between UN Cooperation Frameworks, Agenda 2030/SDGs and the Decent Work Agenda. Workers’ organizations should be more active in the UN sustainable development processes, emphasize their experiences, their perspectives in relation to the economy, employment and jobs, social protection, social dialogue and collective bargaining, occupational safety and health as well as on working conditions in general. UN reforms, or rather the ongoing UN Cooperation Framework processes, are there to accelerate the implementation of Agenda 2030, ensuring that no one is left behind and that includes workers and their organizations. At the same time, trade unions must be pro-active by arming themselves with the necessary knowledge and tools for influencing the formulation, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the UN Cooperation Frameworks. The ILO will continue to support their efforts of bringing the voice of workers to the centre of sustainable development Agenda 2030/SDGs.

What are the main findings from the survey report?

To offer appropriate support to trade union organizations, we needed to understand their views, experiences and perspectives on the likely negative and positive prospects of COVID-19 on the achievement of SDGs, and more specifically on SDG 8. Therefore, ACTRAV commissioned a baseline assessment based on the views of trade union officials and technocrats from across the globe. The baseline findings offer a mixed picture of positive and negative prospects. Overall, there is consensus amongst trade unions that progress towards SDG 8 was already lagging before the global COVID-19 outbreak. Furthermore, the pandemic will further relegate its implementation. On the other hand, however, aspects such as securing safer working environments and stimulating employment creation will be prioritised. Against this background, most trade union leaders expect their organizations’ SDG work to gain more prominence in the future. The findings, conclusions and recommendations give us useful insights on the perceived challenges and prospects of trade unions in relation to COVID-19 and the Agenda 2030. They also provide us with a much needed rationale and foundation to continue supporting the trade union initiatives in Agenda 2030 such as their involvement in Voluntary National and Regional Reviews.

From the ILO's perspective, what are your expectations vis-à-vis Trade Unions?

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, time to work together in accelerating a more inclusive sustainable development world is now. ACTRAV shall continue working hand in hand with the workers’ organisations and with the rest of the ILO office at HQ as well as at regional and national levels to promote the consultation and active participation of trade unions and workers’ organizations in shaping the formulation and implementation of the UN Cooperation Framework processes at national level; encourage and guide workers’ organizations to prepare and participate more strongly in Agenda 2030/SDG processes so as to address the social and economic challenges that has afflicted economies and workers even before this ongoing global pandemic.