“Our striv­ing for some­thing greater”

Al­most 200 mil­lion peo­ple are look­ing for work world­wide, while au­to­ma­tion sows fear of stag­nat­ing wages and dis­ap­pear­ing jobs. A con­ver­sa­tion with Guy Ry­der, Direc­tor Gen­eral of the In­ter­na­tional Labour Or­ga­ni­za­tion (ILO), about work and world peace, the

Bulletin - - Jobs Of The Future - By Manuel Ry­bach

An in-depth con­ver­sa­tion with ILO Direc­tor-gen­eral Guy Ry­der.

W“Work gives you mean­ing and pur­pose,” ac­cord­ing to Stephen Hawk­ing. Sig­mund Freud sup­pos­edly said that a ful­fill­ing life con­sists of work and love. Why is work so im­por­tant for hu­mankind, be­yond the mere re­mu­ner­a­tion?

Work has a cru­cial so­cial func­tion be­yond just meet­ing ma­te­rial needs. Work must cer­tainly meet ma­te­rial needs, but it must also re­spond to an in­di­vid­ual’s quest for per­sonal de­vel­op­ment and the in­stinc­tive de­sire to con­trib­ute to some­thing larger than one’s own or one’s fam­ily’s wel­fare. The ILO’S Dec­la­ra­tion of Philadel­phia – adopted in 1944 – refers to the need to act to en­sure that work­ers “can have the sat­is­fac­tion of giv­ing the fullest mea­sure of their skill and at­tain­ments and make their great­est con­tri­bu­tion to the com­mon well-be­ing.”

Ac­cord­ing to his­to­rian Yu­val Noah Harari, gath­er­ers and hun­ters worked only a cou­ple of hours a day. With to­day’s dig­i­ti­za­tion, in con­trast, we are in dan­ger of work­ing around the clock. Is the his­tory of hu­man evo­lu­tion ac­tu­ally a big de­cline in qual­ity of life?

How does Harari know that they only worked a cou­ple of hours a day? They may have spent days run­ning af­ter the deer without find­ing it … and Harari also ac­knowl­edges that in his book later on: qual­ity of life and well­be­ing have reached un­fore­seen lev­els be­cause of the great tech­no­log­i­cal progress that has taken place in the past few gen­er­a­tions. Mean­while, tech­nol­ogy is mak­ing a great part of hu­man la­bor re­dun­dant. Harari says … I see this kind of pre­dic­tion less as a prophecy and more a way of dis­cussing our present choices. If the dis­cus­sion makes us choose dif­fer­ently, so that the pre­dic­tion is proven wrong, all the bet­ter.

Next year, the ILO cel­e­brates its 100th birth­day. Many of its orig­i­nal goals,

like the 40-hour work week have been achieved – why is the ILO still needed to­day?

Key times of change, for bet­ter or worse, have fol­lowed war, eco­nomic tur­moil or po­lit­i­cal cri­sis. We may again be en­ter­ing such a pe­riod, and how the ILO re­sponds will surely make a dif­fer­ence to whether the global econ­omy meets our goals for rights, jobs and se­cu­rity.

The ILO and the League of Na­tions were founded to­gether af­ter World War I as an in­te­gral part of the peace process. The drive to cre­ate the ILO came from the ur­gent need to im­prove the ap­palling work­ing con­di­tions faced by many in the early decades af­ter the In­dus­trial Rev­o­lu­tion …

… and with great suc­cess. Since 1919 there have been im­por­tant changes in at­ti­tudes to work and in poli­cies aimed at im­prov­ing its qual­ity. These changes have con­di­tioned the ILO’S work and its im­pact in both in­dus­tri­al­ized and de­vel­op­ing coun­tries. In re­cent crises and their af­ter­math, ILO issues were cen­tral. If new for­mu­la­tions of in­ter­na­tional so­cial jus­tice, new eth­i­cal rules and new pol­icy in­stru­ments emerge to guide the world econ­omy and la­bor mar­kets, the ILO’S goals must be at their heart.

One of the key fea­tures of the ILO is its ap­proach of bring­ing to­gether gov­ern­ments, la­bor unions and em­ployer fed­er­a­tions. Is this model here to stay or will it be chal­lenged by changes in the na­ture of work?

At a time marked in many coun­tries by in­creas­ing job in­se­cu­rity, wage stag­na­tion and new chal­lenges from au­to­ma­tion and the dig­i­tal rev­o­lu­tion, con­struc­tive la­bor re­la­tions are more im­por­tant than ever. Through di­a­logue, gov­ern­ments, em­ploy­ers and work­ers play a cru­cial role in shap­ing a fu­ture of work that leaves no one be­hind. They can jointly de­cide what new tech­nolo­gies to adopt and how. They can con­trib­ute to man­ag­ing tran­si­tions for dis­placed work­ers, help an­tic­i­pate skills’ needs, de­velop ed­u­ca­tion and train­ing pro­grams, and man­age en­ter­prise re­struc­tur­ing.

Two hun­dred mil­lion peo­ple don’t have work to­day. Mean­while, full em­ploy­ment by 2030 is one of the UN’S sus­tain­abil­ity goals, which re­quires 600 mil­lion new jobs in the next ten years, ac­cord­ing to the ILO’S de­vel­op­ment agenda. How could that be pos­si­ble?

That is a real chal­lenge, mak­ing them green and de­cent is prob­a­bly an even greater chal­lenge. We are fac­ing the twin chal­lenge of re­pair­ing the dam­age caused by the global eco­nomic cri­sis and cre­at­ing qual­ity jobs for the tens of mil­lions of new, young la­bor mar­ket en­trants ev­ery year. Job cre­ation will rely heav­ily on a healthy en­vi­ron­ment and the ser­vices that it pro­vides.

What does this mean specif­i­cally?

24 mil­lion new jobs could be cre­ated glob­ally by 2030 if the right poli­cies to pro­mote a greener econ­omy are put in place. Ser­vice sec­tor jobs will be the main driver of fu­ture em­ploy­ment growth, while agri­cul­ture and man­u­fac­tur­ing em­ploy­ment con­tinue to de­cline. Strong pol­icy ef­forts must be un­der­taken here to boost job qual­ity and pro­duc­tiv­ity in the ser­vice sec­tor.

What are the main ob­sta­cles to get­ting there?

Im­bal­ances per­sist be­tween skills of­fered and skills needed. While a few coun­tries in­te­grate en­vi­ron­men­tal sus­tain­abil­ity and skills poli­cies, others have not de­vel­oped or uti­lized their skills in­sti­tu­tions to pre­pare for the green tran­si­tion. To en­sure a just tran­si­tion to a green econ­omy, the ILO rec­om­mends de­vel­op­ing a le­gal frame­work and also deal­ing with so­cial issues and de­cent work­ing con­di­tions in green sec­tors.

What does that mean?

Public voice and par­tic­i­pa­tion in de­ci­sion­mak­ing must be en­sured when en­vi­ron­men­tal and cli­mate change poli­cies af­fect the world of work, and they must pro­tect work­ers who are forced from their homes and across borders as a re­sult of cli­mate change and nat­u­ral dis­as­ters. Work­ers and their fam­i­lies af­fected by cli­mate change need so­cial pro­tec­tion. The need for so­cial pro­tec­tion sys­tems will in­crease as tem­per­a­tures in­crease, pre­cip­i­ta­tion pat­terns change, and nat­u­ral dis­as­ters be­come more com­mon and in­tense.

The ILO re­ceived the No­bel Peace Prize in 1969 be­cause of its role in pro­mot­ing peace through work. If there is less work in the fu­ture, do you ex­pect an in­crease in so­cial up­heaval, es­pe­cially if there is a high num­ber of un­em­ployed young peo­ple?

Youth un­em­ploy­ment is a ma­jor chal­lenge, at least in the global south. We will have to in­te­grate hun­dreds of mil­lions of young peo­ple into the la­bor mar­ket. If we fail to act in light of this cri­sis, we will be de­stroy­ing hopes for sus­tain­able growth – and sow­ing the seeds of deeper so­cial un­rest in the world. Cre­at­ing de­cent work op­por­tu­ni­ties, par­tic­u­larly for youth, will be es­sen­tial to build last­ing peace in coun­tries emerg­ing from con­flict, cri­sis and dis­as­ter.

Photo: Ni­c­hole Sobecki / VII/ Redux / laif

Guy Ry­der, 62, has served as Direc­tor Gen­eral of the In­ter­na­tional La­bor Or­ga­ni­za­tion (ILO) since 2012. Orig­i­nally from the United King­dom, he has strength­ened the role of the ILO in the G20 process, in co­op­er­a­tion with BRICS coun­tries and with the G7+. The ILO has also launched new ini­tia­tives with the World Bank and ad­vanced the agenda for hu­mane work­ing con­di­tions. Ry­der, who stud­ied so­cial and po­lit­i­cal science, has 35 years of ex­pe­ri­ence in the world of la­bor and held the po­si­tion of Gen­eral Sec­re­tary of the In­ter­na­tional Trade Union Fed­er­a­tion, among others.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Switzerland

© PressReader. All rights reserved.