World Day For Decent Work

2

April 6, 2009 by Gsmith

wddwOn October 7 2009 the trade union movement is organising a World Day for Decent Work for the second time. This is an unparalleled opportunity for trade unions and organisations interested in Decent Work all around the world to join a broad global mobilisation involving a large number of people and a wide range of activities. A successful day will focus attention on the urgent need for a new globalisation, and also provide a basis for the trade union movement in every continent to join in a common action. The web site for 2009 is currently under construction and will be launched in May.

Click here to see what happened in 2008: http://www.wddw.org

El 8 de octubre de 2009 el movimiento sindical organizará por segunda vez una Jornada Mundial por el Trabajo Decente. Constituye una oportunidad sin precedentes para que los sindicatos y otras organizaciones interesadas en promover el Trabajo Decente en todo el mundo unan sus fuerzas en una movilización global de gran envergadura que involucrará a gran número de personas e incluirá una amplia gama de actividades. Una jornada provechosa conseguirá llamar la atención sobre la urgente necesidad de una nueva globalización, y sentará las bases para unir al movimiento sindical de todos los continentes en una acción común. El sitio web para el año 2009 se encuentra actualmente en construcción y se pondrá en marcha en mayo. Haga clic aquí para ver lo que sucedió en 2008: http://www.wddw.org

Le mouvement syndical organisera, le 7 octobre 2009, pour la deuxième fois une Journée mondiale pour le travail décent, offrant aux syndicats et aux organisations oeuvrant pour le travail décent dans le monde entier une occasion sans précédent de se rallier à une vaste mobilisation mondiale impliquant un nombre élevé de personnes et comportant toute une série d’activités. Une journée fructueuse permettra de mettre l’accent sur le besoin urgent d’une nouvelle mondialisation et de jeter les bases de la participation du mouvement syndical dans tous les continents à une action commune.

Le site web pour 2009 est actuellement en construction et sera lancé en Mai. Cliquez ici pour voir ce qui s’est passé en 2008: http://www.wddw.org

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2 thoughts on “World Day For Decent Work

  1. Forest Simmons says:

    In the summer of 1902 Jack London conducted an experiment similar to Barbara Ehrenreich’s more recent one chronicled in her book, “Nickel and Dimed.”

    Jack called his book, “People of the Abyss.” A beautiful on-line copy with the original illustrations included can be found at

    http://www.jacklondons.net/writings/PeopleOfTheAbyss/toc.html

    From the author’s preface:

    The experiences related in this volume fell to me in the summer of 1902. I went down into the under-world of London with an attitude of mind which I may best liken to that of the explorer. I was open to be convinced by the evidence of my eyes, rather than by the teachings of those who had not seen, or by the words of those who had seen and gone before. Further, I took with me certain simple criteria with which to measure the life of the under-world. That which made for more life, for physical and spiritual health, was good; that which made for less life, which hurt, and dwarfed, and distorted life, was bad.

    It will be readily apparent to the reader that I saw much that was bad. Yet it must not be forgotten that the time of which I write was considered “good times” in England. The starvation and lack of shelter I encountered constituted a chronic condition of misery which is never wiped out, even in the periods of greatest prosperity.

    And from the conclusion:

    IN THIS FINAL CHAPTER it were well to look at the Social Abyss in its widest aspect, and to put certain questions to Civilisation, by the answers to which Civilisation must stand or fall. For instance, has Civilisation bettered the lot of man? “Man,” I use in its democratic sense, meaning the average man. So the question re- shapes itself: HAS CIVILISATION BETTERED THE LOT OF THE AVERAGE MAN?

    Let us see. In Alaska, along the banks of the Yukon River, near its mouth, live the Innuit folk. They are a very primitive people, manifesting but mere glimmering adumbrations of that tremendous artifice, Civilisation. Their capital amounts possibly to 2 pounds per head. They hunt and fish for their food with bone-headed spews and arrows. They never suffer from lack of shelter. Their clothes, largely made from the skins of animals, are warm. They always have fuel for their fires, likewise timber for their houses, which they build partly underground, and in which they lie snugly during the periods of intense cold. In the summer they live in tents, open to every breeze and cool. They are healthy, and strong, and happy. Their one problem is food. They have their times of plenty and times of famine. In good times they feast; in bad times they die of starvation. But starvation, as a chronic condition, present with a large number of them all the time, is a thing unknown. Further, they have no debts.

    In the United Kingdom, on the rim of the Western Ocean, live the English folk. They are a consummately civilised people. Their capital amounts to at least 300 pounds per head. They gain their food, not by hunting and fishing, but by toil at colossal artifices. For the most part, they suffer from lack of shelter. The greater number of them are vilely housed, do not have enough fuel to keep them warm, and are insufficiently clothed. A constant number never have any houses at all, and sleep shelterless under the stars. Many are to be found, winter and summer, shivering on the streets in their rags. They have good times and bad. In good times most of them manage to get enough to eat, in bad times they die of starvation. They are dying now, they were dying yesterday and last year, they will die to-morrow and next year, of starvation; for they, unlike the Innuit, suffer from a chronic condition of starvation. There are 40,000,000 of the English folk, and 939 out of every 1000 of them die in poverty, while a constant army of 8,000,000 struggles on the ragged edge of starvation. Further, each babe that is born, is born in debt to the sum of 22 pounds. This is because of an artifice called the National Debt.

    In a fair comparison of the average Innuit and the average Englishman, it will be seen that life is less rigorous for the Innuit; that while the Innuit suffers only during bad times from starvation, the Englishman suffers during good times as well; that no Innuit lacks fuel, clothing, or housing, while the Englishman is in perpetual lack of these three essentials. In this connection it is well to instance the judgment of a man such as Huxley. From the knowledge gained as a medical officer in the East End of London, and as a scientist pursuing investigations among the most elemental savages, he concludes, “Were the alternative presented to me, I would deliberately prefer the life of the savage to that of those people of Christian London.”

    The creature comforts man enjoys are the products of man’s labour. Since Civilisation has failed to give the average Englishman food and shelter equal to that enjoyed by the Innuit, the question arises: HAS CIVILISATION INCREASED THE PRODUCING POWER OF THE AVERAGE MAN? If it has not increased man’s producing power, then Civilisation cannot stand.

    But, it will be instantly admitted, Civilisation has increased man’s producing power. Five men can produce bread for a thousand. One man can produce cotton cloth for 250 people, woollens for 300, and boots and shoes for 1000. Yet it has been shown throughout the pages of this book that English folk by the millions do not receive enough food, clothes, and boots. Then arises the third and inexorable question: IF CIVILISATION HAS INCREASED THE PRODUCING POWER OF THE AVERAGE MAN, WHY HAS IT NOT BETTERED THE LOT OF THE AVERAGE MAN?

    There can be one answer only–MISMANAGEMENT.

    Here Jack leaves his analysis and proposes Socialism as the solution the mismanagement problem.

    But I wish he would have continued the analysis a little further to show why the invisible hand of the free market is fundamentally incapable of solving this problem. Here’s how I would continue in this vein:

    According to the stats quoted above, circa 1900 AD, it would take about thirteen English workers of average productivity to feed and clothe a thousand Englishmen. Let’s throw in another twelve workers to take care of housing and miscellaneous other needs. Let’s throw in another 75 workers per thousand for health care, education, transportation, the arts, and other basic goods, services, and conveniences that a decent person might enjoy in good conscience.

    Then we see that with the help of mere 19th century technology for each 1000 people there might be honest work for 100 people.

    So under capitalism what are the other 900 people supposed to do to earn their right to live?

    They have to figure out some kind of scam like selling drugs, the protection racket (insurance), the defense industry, etc.

    And how does the invisible hand take care of those among the 900 that refuse to bow down to Mammon by advertising and selling useless junk? It doesn’t.

    Furthermore, since these refusenicks have no income, they cannot purchase the goods and services of the workers, so the demand goes down, and there is not even enough honest work for the ten percent, unless they just give away their goods and services contrary to the dictates of capitalism.

    Capitalism really only employs enough workers to supply the needs and luxuries of the people with money; the invisible hand decrees that the people that have no money to offer cannot be helped, no matter how needy they may be.

    But why don’t the rest of the people (the 900 shut out from the economy) get together and create their own economy to fulfill the needs of each other? Jack London found out that without land (which was long since transformed from “commons” to “private property” status by enclosure), there was no way that they could grow food, etc. There wasn’t even land for the homeless people to sleep on. They had to wander around on foot all night long or feel the blow of the billy club.

    So in order to ensure a “flexible labor market” the capitalist class makes sure that the poor class cannot acquire land. Consider how NAFTA drives the subsistence farmer off of the land and reduces him to Maquiladora work and begging in Mexico. The suicides of India farmers follow from the same dynamic imposed by global free market capitalism accepted by the political class in India.

    By way of contrast, in a society (as Chomsky sardonically puts it) “where a decent person would want to live,” instead of ten percent working a full week providing the basic goods and services, everybody would work a few hours each per week, or a few weeks per year. Then everybody could devote more time to “goods of first intent” and less time to “the management of the creature” (as Nibley would say).

    Is Obama even aware of the basic arithmetic of capitalism? How about those who think that the solution is to just convince everybody of the value of “self-sufficiency?”

    If the body of believers is supposed to be the body of Christ, and the eye cannot say to the foot, “I have no need of thee,” then why do we exalt self-sufficiency as the solution?

    Why are laws that would help the poor singled out as being laws that compromise our free agency? Don’t all of the laws on the books require us to obey or suffer the consequences? How about the speed limit? How about fishing limits? Why don’t we have bake sales to help out the war profiteers?

    Why is anarchy good only when it comes to helping the poor?

  2. Forest Simmons says:

    A link to a counterpunch article that surveys the nature of work in the world today:

    http://www.counterpunch.org/yates05202009.html

    Truly the devil of devils laughs at our puny attempts to organize society in a way that would allow ordinary people to live with dignity.

    Laissez-faire, letting nature takes its course, doesn’t work.

    The gods had to set up a priesthood to carve out an oasis of peace and safety in a chaotic universe for their families in order to protect them from the forces of both chaos (random forces of nature) and evil (intentional harm).

    They didn’t believe in just letting nature take its course.

    Which of their children will try to emulate (during their mortal probation) what their eternal parents have already vouchsafed on a larger scale?

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