A new data-driven online index launched by JustJobs Network, a nonpartisan global policy and research institute, highlights the need for sustainable employment and offers policymakers and other decision-makers worldwide a tool to help generate more and better jobs worldwide.
Created in partnership with Fafo, an independent and multidisciplinary research foundation, the JustJobs Index offers the first-ever index to measure both quantity and quality of jobs. The site includes two indexes with country-by-country data trends between 2000 and 2013. The Global JustJobs Index ranks 148 countries on quantity and quality of employment in 10 areas, such as unemployment and gender equality. The Enhanced JustJobs Index includes 41 countries where more extensive data is available, and offers 17 indicators. The site also provides longitudinal country comparisons, maps and downloadable reports.
The JustJobs Index is anchored in the International Labor Organization (ILO) decent work agenda and Article 7 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights recognizing the right of everyone to just and favorable working conditions. An accompanying report details the methodology underlying the data.
More than 200 million workers around the world are jobless, nearly 40 percent of them young workers, and many more—approximately half the global workforce—labor in the informal sector, where they lack basic protections. And even formal sector workers increasingly find their wages stagnant and their benefits stripped away.
JustJobs says the index should “provide a strong empirical basis for policy dialogue and formulations” as more policymakers and leaders around the globe recognize that high inequality is a sign that a country’s labor market is not producing enough good jobs and that work “is fundamental to the well-being of economies.”
In a recent Solidarity Center delegation to Honduras, Metropolitan Washington, D.C., Labor Council President Josyln Williams, a Solidarity Center Executive Board member, and Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), the leading Democratic member of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, examined firsthand how union and human rights activists are struggling to defend the rights of working Hondurans and ensure the basic livelihoods and survival of Honduran families.
The Solidarity Center delegation intersected with a parallel delegation of AFL-CIO leaders, including AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Tefere Gebre, a Solidarity Center board member, and Larry Cohen, Communications Workers of America president. Both groups met with Solidarity Center partner unions and numerous worker and human rights activists.
“Amazingly, all confirm a unified story—an economy in collapse, widespread violations of minimum wage and all social protection laws, small farmers forced from their land, subsistence farming replaced by African palm and the jobs created in maquila zones dwarfed by the numbers forced to leave ancestral lands and travel to cities already jammed,” said Cohen.
After meeting with more than 60 union activists from garment and auto parts factories, and with those from sectors in agriculture, ports, education and public service, delegates said the level of rights violations and repression of activists was overwhelming. The groups also met with human rights leaders focused on Garifuna (Afro-Honduran) rights and women’s rights.
Union leaders from the agricultural union, FESTAGRO (Federación de Sindicatos de Trabajadores de la Agroindustria), expressed concern over the likelihood of violent attacks for union activities as they organize among sugar cane workers—subcontractors who are not paid the minimum wage. FESTAGRO leaders pointed to one of their union’s leaders, Jésus Maria Martinez, who recently was forced to flee the country after receiving threats against his life, as a prelude to the kinds of attacks activists will face when organizing among sugar cane workers.
FESTAGRO General Secretary German Zepeda told Miller and Williams that despite the danger and the unresponsiveness of the state, FESTRAGRO sees organizing workers as the only way forward. FESTAGRO, a Solidarity Center ally, also is organizing in the melon sector, where the majority of seasonal workers are women, many of whom migrate to the city to seek work as domestic workers or in other informal economy jobs during the off-season.
Garifuna activists, too, said that despite the threats on their lives and communities, they would continue the fight to “live as they’ve always lived, on their own land,” and pleaded with the delegates to urge their country to “pay attention.” Garifuna activists are struggling to defend their economically rich land from powerful interests, including narco-traffickers and multinational companies. They have taken their cases to Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) but have little hope that state will comply with any IACHR decision.
Delegation participants say they were “overwhelmed” with the information they received from union activists about widespread noncompliance with laws, including attacks against labor leaders, a lack of compliance with minimum wage laws and an unresponsive government, and assured union and community allies they would work to bring more attention to the work and struggle of Honduran activists.
AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Tefere Gebre (right) presents BWI General Secretary Ambet Yuson with the Meany-Kirkland Human Rights Award. Credit: Bill Burke
The Building and Wood Workers’ International (BWI) and its affiliates received the 2014 AFL-CIO George Meany-Lane Kirkland Human Rights Award in a ceremony last night in Washington, D.C., where they were honored for their work in bringing justice to construction workers worldwide, specifically for the migrant workers whose labor makes global sporting events possible.
“Your leadership has been tireless, and your campaign has shed light on the dangerous and exploitive working conditions of migrant workers,” said AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Tefere Gebre as he presented the award to BWI General Secretary Ambet Yuson. “Together with your affiliates, including unions here in the United States, and with the International Trade Union Confederation, you have pressured governments, international sports governing bodies and the brands that profit from these events to change conditions on the ground.”
In announcing selection of BWI for the annual award last spring, the AFL-CIO Executive Council said in a statement that “BWI’s affiliates organize campaigns and establish agreements between unions in origin and destination countries, and ensure equal pay for equal work, regardless of workers’ country of origin.”
All countries given the honor of hosting a world premier sporting event such as the Olympics and the World Cup, the council said, “must be held to the highest standards when it comes to supporting international labor rights.”
In accepting the award, Yuson said, “There is a resurgence of vitality in the labor movement. This is credited to immigrant and migrant workers who are building a more dynanmic and strong labor movement.”
Joining Yuson on stage to accept the award were BWI President Per-Olof Sjoo; Gelson Santana, general secretary of STICC POA, a construction worker union in Porto Alegre, Brazil; Johan Linkholm, president of the Swedish building trades union, Byggnads; Christer Wälivarra, strategic director of the Swedish trade union, 6F; and Jin Sook, BWI campaign director.
Abdeslam Ouaddou, the former captain of Morocco’s national soccer team, spoke about the need for migrant worker rights, telling the audience, that “a country without trade unions is a very bad place to work.”
Ouaddou is now forming an organization to assist migrant workers and urge sports teams to take a stand against inhumane treatment of workers. “We cannot play in stadiums where workers are exploited and blood has been spilled.”
BWI is a network of 326 trade unions representing more than 12 million members in 130 countries. Headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, BWI regional and project offices are in Brazil, Burkina Faso, Chile, Curaçao, India, Kenya, Malaysia, Panama, Peru, Russia, South Africa and Thailand.
The annual Meany-Kirkland award, created in 1980 and named for the first two presidents of the AFL-CIO, recognizes outstanding examples of the international struggle for human rights through trade unions.
The award went to the International Domestic Workers Federation in 2013 and, in 2012, to the Tunisian General Union of Labor (UGTT) and the General Federation of Bahrain Trade Unions (GBFTU)—two unions whose struggles were emblematic of labor’s role in the uprisings that year.
Labor and human rights activist and long-time Solidarity Center ally Kailash Satyarthi won the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize, the Nobel committee announced this morning. He shares the prestigious award with Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani girl who survived a brutal 2012 Taliban attack for her stance on girls’ education.
As a grassroots activist, Satyarthi has led the rescue of more than 78,500 child laborers and survived numerous attacks on his life as a result. As a PBS profile describes Satyarthi’s work: “His original idea was daring and dangerous. He decided to mount raids on factories—factories frequently manned by armed guards—where children and often entire families were held captive as bonded workers.”
Solidarity Center Asia Regional Director Tim Ryan said, “Kailash’s lifetime commitment to the cause of eradicating child labor is an inspiration to every human rights defender around the world to promote the rights of the most vulnerable, the most economically exploited young workers and the paramount importance of finding ways to secure basic education for all children around the world.”
Satyarthi’s decades of work to end exploitive child labor have encompassed advocacy for decent work and working conditions for adults, including domestic workers, because impoverished families must often make the difficult choice of sending their children to work for the sake of family survival.
“Child labor is a largely neglected, ignored, denied aspect of human rights,” Satyarthi told the Solidarity Center in a recent interview. “This is crime against humanity and is unacceptable in any civilized society.”
In 1998, Satyarthi created the Global March Against Child Labour, a coalition of unions and child rights organizations from around the world, to work toward elimination of child labor. Global March members and partners are now in more than 140 countries. Many of these civil society groups, including the Solidarity Center, came together to launch End Child Slavery Week November 20–26, with the focus this year on pushing the United Nations to make ending child labor a key priority of its 15-year action now under development.
Winning the Nobel “will help in giving bigger visibility to the cause of children who are most neglected and most deprived,” Satyarthi said upon learning he won the prestigious prize. “Everyone must acknowledge and see that child slavery still exists in the world in its ugliest face and form. And this is crime against humanity, this is intolerable, this is unacceptable. And this must go.” (Listen to his interview with the Nobel Prize team.)
At age 26, Satyarthi gave up a promising career as an electrical engineer and dedicated his life to helping the millions of children in India who are forced into slavery by powerful and corrupt business and land owners.
In 1994, Satyarthi spearheaded Rugmark (now known as GoodWeave), the official process certifying that carpets were not woven by children, and aimed at dissuading consumers from buying carpets made by child laborers through consumer awareness campaigns in Europe and the United States.
His life’s achievements encompass a range of human rights work. Satyarthi created a series of “model villages” free from child exploitation, and some 356 villages have emerged in 11 states of India since the model’s inception in 2001. The children of these villages attend school and participate in a wide range of governance meetings to discuss the running of their villages, through child governance bodies and youth groups.
“Showing great personal courage, Kailash Satyarthi, maintaining Gandhi’s tradition, has headed various forms of protests and demonstrations, all peaceful, focusing on the grave exploitation of children for financial gain,” said Nobel Committee Chairman Thorbjorn Jagland said.
Satyarthi’s award of the Nobel Prize is the latest high-profile recognition of worker rights activists in the last month. Earlier this week, Alejandra Ancheita, founder and executive director of the Mexico City-based ProDESC (Project for Economic, Cultural, and Social Rights), won the prestigious international Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders. And in September, Ai-jen Poo, founder and director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance, became a MacArthur ‘Genius’ Grant recipient.
In Uzbekistan, empty classrooms and children working in cotton fields during the annual fall cotton harvest contributed to the country’s ranking as among those with the worst forms of child labor in the world, according to a report released yesterday by the U.S. Department of Labor.
The annual “Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor” placed Uzbekistan among 12 other countries at the bottom of the report’s rankings and one of three, along with the Democratic Republic of Congo and Eritrea, that received the assessment as a result of government complicity in forced child labor.
The report assesses efforts by more than 140 countries to reduce the worst forms of child labor and indicates whether countries have made significant, moderate, minimal or no advancement over the previous year. Thirteen countries were cited as making significant advancement, compared with 10 countries in last year’s report. Among them: Brazil, Ecuador, El Salvador, South Africa and Tunisia.
Through a detailed country-by-country description, the report includes data on children’s work and education, national laws and regulations regarding child labor and other key information. Globally, 10 percent of the world’s children—168 million children, of whom 85 million labor in hazardous work—toil in factories, mines and farms, unable to attend school.
Regionally, the report cites sub-Saharan Africa, home to 30 percent of the world’s child laborers, as the area with the largest number of children working in hazardous conditions. An estimated 59 million children ages 5–17 are engaged in child labor in sub-Saharan Africa, or 21.4 percent of all children in the region.
Elsewhere, 77.8 million children ages 5–17 are engaged in child labor in the Asia and Pacific region, some 9.3 percent of all children in the region. In Latin America and the Caribbean, 12.5 million children work, accounting for 8 percent of all children in the region. In the Middle East and North Africa, 9.2 million children—8 percent of all children in the region—are engaged in child labor.
A list of goods produced by child or forced labor also is included as part of the report, which this year is dedicated to retiring Rep. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa). Harkin, a champion of worker rights, has long led the fight to end child labor globally, and spearheaded legislation in 2000 that mandated compilation of the annual “Findings of the Worst Forms of Child Labor.”