Trade unions across the world are stepping up pressure for decent jobs and social justice, in the lead up to the World Day for Decent Work, October 7.

The ITUC’s affiliates in India are taking part in nationwide strikes against national and state government employment and industrial relations policies today, and its French member organisations are organising national rallies and strike actions to protest against major changes to retirement and pensions proposed by the Sarkozy government. Millions of workers in the two countries are taking part in today’s actions.

“Working people are still paying a heavy price for the world economic crisis, as the banking and finance sector returns to business as usual. Governments pledged major reforms to the global economy at the G20 in 2008 and 2009, but have failed to follow through.

The jobs crisis, especially for young people, is getting worse, economic stimulus has been withdrawn too early in several major economies, and vital public services as well as development aid are being cut back in the name of fiscal consolidation.

Today’s actions in France and India reflect the deep anger felt by people around the world, and will be followed by strikes and demonstrations in many other countries,” said ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow.

Trade unions across Europe are planning a massive demonstration in Brussels on 29 September, to protest at austerity measures. 100,000 demonstrators will converge on the EU capital from across the continent, to join a march organised by the European Trade Union Confederation.

On the same day, a general strike will take place in Spain and protests are also planned in the Czeck Republic, Cyprus, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Portugal. Massive protests across Germany are being organised by the ITUC affiliate DGB in the coming weeks over government finance, employment and social security policies.

ITUC affiliates and Global Union Federations are also finalising their plans for actions on 7 October itself, the World Day for Decent Work. Millions of trade unionists took part in the 2008 and 2009 October mobilisations, with more than 470 actions in 11 countries last year.

One of the first events to take place as the day begins will be a national youth rally involving several hundred young workers organised by RENGO Japan in Kakegawa City. Another major series of activities is being organised by the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) and UNI Global Union.

Their week of action on 6 – 12 October entitled “Respect & Safety Now!” will focus on delivery and road transport. In the education sector, the Education International is also focusing on the economic crisis in its “Recovery Begins with Teachers” actions on World Teachers’ Day, 5 October.

With cuts to public services and social protection looming in many countries in response to demands from the banking and finance sector, protection of quality public services will be a major theme in World Day for Decent Work activities. A major international conference on this issue, organised by the Council of Global Unions, will take place in Geneva on 12 – 14 October.

The special interactive website for the World Day for Decent Work has been launched, containing information from last year’s events and first information on activities being organised this year.

Organisations planning events can upload their own information onto the multi-language site, which also features a Twitter feed, video and photo-galleries and other interactive functions. It will also contain information on the main themes for the 2010 events:

  • Growth and decent jobs, not austerity
  • Quality public services
  • Making the finance sector serve the real economy
  • “This year’s World Day for Decent Work will be a peak moment in the global trade union movement’s action for fundamental reform of the global economy. We will be holding political leaders to account on jobs, financial regulation and quality public services, and governments would be well advised to heed the trade union call,” said Burrow.