How can trade unions contribute to the achievement of universal social protection?

ACTRAV INFO: ILO-ACTRAV is launching a new resource pack on social protection. Why is this package important for workers and their organisations?

ACTRAV has developed a set of resources on social protection for workers’ organizations with a view to providing specific guidance to workers’ representatives to contribute to the development and implementation of informed and comprehensive policies in defense of the rights of workers. workers in the field of social protection. The resource pack includes a Guide for workers to the ILO Conventions on minimum social security standards and a series of ‘What workers’ organizations need to know’ guidance notes addressing a number of key issues in current social protection debates and policy discussions, and in particular providing the policy options for closing gender gaps in social protection, extending social protection to workers in the informal economy, finding fiscal space for financing social protection and implementing adequate pension schemes and reforms. They highlight the challenges countries face in social protection and how these challenges can be overcome.

While the stakes are clear and trade unions have a long history of organizing for political change, it is important to strengthen the capacity of workers’ representatives to develop comprehensive short, medium and long-term social protection strategies aimed at finding fiscal space for social protection and the extension of coverage to the unprotected population, ensuring the sustainability and adequacy of pensions, which are at the heart of any social protection system, as well as ensuring that social protection policies reinforce gender equality. Worker representatives need to know what policy choices exist, how much they cost, what their implications are, and how countries in comparable situations have overcome related challenges. This is of particular importance to ensure an economic and social recovery from the Covid-19 crisis that is fully inclusive, sustainable and resilient.

ACTRAV INFO: What are the main aims of this resource pack?

The Workers’ Guide to the ILO Conventions concerning minimum social security standards will be a valuable resource, giving practical advice primarily to workers’ organizations, but also to ILO officials, governments, employers and other partners active in this area to better understand the importance of ILO social security standards, and in particular Convention No. 102. We want workers’ representatives to play an active role in supporting the campaign to ratify Convention No. 102, which the ILO launched in June 2022.

The guidance note on extending social protection coverage to workers in the informal economy aims to help workers’ representatives better understand the complexity and challenges of extending social protection coverage to workers in the informal economy, and highlights, through examples of good practice, the different policy choices that countries have put in place to overcome these challenges.

The policy brief Closing the gender gaps in social protection provides an overview of the root causes of gender-related social protection gaps and the ILO’s strategy to close them. It offers a wide range of successful examples of gender-sensitive social protection programs and reforms around the world that workers’ representatives can use as a reference to promote gender-sensitive social protection policies in their respective countries.

The guidance note on creating fiscal space for financing social protection aims to provide workers’ representatives with a better understanding of the challenges of creating fiscal space for financing social protection and different policy options to overcome these challenges with a view to effectively contributing to policy discussions on mobilizing resources for adequate investments in universal social protection at country level.

The briefing note on pension models around the world from an ILO perspective shows that workers’ organizations can make a vital contribution to informed discussions on pension reform policies and their implementation at national level. national. To this end, they need to know which retirement policy options are best for their country, what the ILO social security conventions say about different retirement models, be aware of the different funding mechanisms and understand the implications of each option for social protection coverage and benefits.

ACTRAV INFO: How can trade unions contribute to achieving universal social protection?

With a view to achieving universal social protection, workers’ representatives can make a vital contribution to informed policy debate and implementation at national level. To do this, they need to know which social protection policy options are best for their country and be aware of the implications of each option for social protection coverage and benefits. In fact, strong technical knowledge among workers’ representatives contributes to the formulation and implementation of national social protection policies and legal frameworks in line with ILO social security standards, as recently reaffirmed in the resolution and conclusions concerning the second recurrent discussion on the social protection objective strategy, adopted by the tripartite constituents at the International Labor Conference in June 2021.

Furthermore, the ILO encourages workers’ organizations to actively promote the ratification and effective implementation of Convention No. 102 and other updated ILO social security standards with the support of ACTRAV in this regard. In countries where it is not ratified, Convention No. 102 should serve as a guiding framework for governments and social partners when developing social security policies and legislation.

Workers’ organizations are not passive spectators, but agents of change capable of developing new paths for a COVID-19 recovery with adequate and sustainable social protection leaving no one behind. Therefore, building the capacity of workers’ organizations is essential to ensure that effective social dialogue can take place and contribute to the development of coordinated policy responses to deal with the current crisis and recovery.

ACTRAV stands ready to support workers’ organizations in their efforts to contribute effectively to the formulation and coherent implementation of universal, comprehensive, adequate and sustainable social protection policies.

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Joel C. Hicks