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In a rapidly changing world of work, the United Nations’ International Labor Organization (ILO) on Thursday stressed the importance dialogue between workers and management is to post-pandemic global recovery – and to keeping wages fair.
After two years of COVID-19 lockdown and amid mounting pressure on the classic 9-to-5 business model – from zero-hour contracts to telework – ILO Director-General Guy Ryder insisted on Thursday on the fact that voluntary negotiations known as collective bargaining had proven their worth. value.
“Workers want to keep their heads above water as prices rise, as they are right now, and they want to keep the workplace safe and secure the paid sick leave that has proven so critical over the past two years,” he told reporters in Geneva. “Employers for their part have welcomed the agreements which have allowed them to retain qualified and experienced workers, so that they can restart, recover and bounce back.”
He added: “The higher the percentage of employees covered by collective agreements, the lower the wage inequalities. And the more equality and diversity there will be in the workplace.
According to a new report by the UN agency, more than one in three employees in 98 countries currently see their wages, working hours and other working conditions set by collective agreements.
But there is considerable variation between countries, the ILO said, ranging from more than 75 per cent of workers having a collective agreement in many European countries and Uruguay, to less than 25 per cent in around half of countries where data were available.
At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the ILO’s Social Dialogue Report 2022 indicated that collective agreements had helped protect people’s jobs and incomes.
“Collective bargaining has played a crucial role during the pandemic in building resilience by protecting workers and businessesensuring business continuity and preserving jobs and incomes,” said Mr. Ryder, noting that the joint agreements had also helped ease the concerns of millions of workers in strengthen occupational safety and health, as well as paid sick leave and health care benefits.
Flexible working arrangements and leave arrangements have been negotiated so that workers, especially women, can balance work with the additional responsibilities associated with school closures or sick family members,” he said. declared. “And agency workers have had their contracts extended or converted to open-ended contracts so they can maintain their income.”
New hybrid reality
After two years of workplace upheaval caused by the coronavirus, post-pandemic collective agreements have now evolved to reflect the new realities of working from home and other “hybrid” work practices, the Chief Executive of the ILO.
“The agreements already focus on equal opportunities, the integration of on-site and remote working practices, the re-regulation of working time on the right to disconnect and addressing the common concerns of workers and employers regarding cybersecurity and data privacy,” he said. in a call for more countries to embrace dialogue between workers’ organizations and employers.
“There are very good reasons to strengthen the institutions that facilitate collective bargaining,” he continued. “Employers’ and workers’ organizations must be strong to ensure the legitimacy of agreed solutions, and in light of the proliferation of diverse forms of work, we must ensure the effective recognition of the right to bargain. effective collective protection for all workers in need of protection.”