The world of work is working. Workers, employers and governmental representatives are discussing the future of the International Labour scene in a UN-based forum. This year, as any other, they are discussing key issues for our future: Employment and Social Protection for the new demographic; Sustainable Development, decent work and Green Jobs; and Social Dialogue.
Let me start by focusing on Employment and Social protection with a special emphasis, obviously, on the European Union and more specifically on youth. International policy makers are breaking their backs debating the way forward; the reasons to keep working, the tools to solve the crisis and how are we going to age, in sum – how are we going to be in the future…
Nevertheless, some of you – the smartest ones – would be currently thinking what damn future? Today, dear readers, you will become my Mr Scrooges, and I will be your Ghost of Christmas Future. I come today to let you witness your future, the future that awaits all of us if we don’t force a 180º turn of the European Unions Economic, Employment and Social policy. I’m going to present you, dear reader, with a dark and uneven future in which your rights will only be there if you can afford them. A future where there will be more and more people excepting less and less. A future in which efficiency will subjugate freedom, and a future where we should be glad and thankful – because it could become even worse. Let me guide you through this tour of YOUR future.
The future has arrived and there are millions of young people who do not want to move away from their families and lives in the periphery of Europe. They do not have jobs and cannot make a life from nothing, but they are told things are not that bad, that they are young and can move away to find employment. But what is the EU going to do with the ones who do not want to move? and in 5 years these citizens would be 30-35 without the competences and the skills gained through a normal working life – but they will have a family of Tiny Tim’s.
But there is still hope! There is a solution! Internal Mobility! Young enemployed people are moving to the productive centres of economy, finances and production! There is a future! But did you, my dear reader, wonder what the impact of this choice is? How is Europe going to address this EUs internal mobility (Forced Labour Force Migration) without a Pan-European redistributive system which would relocate – financial – resources from super productive/efficient areas to less efficient ones? How is Tiny Tim going to have the possibility of attending school or purchasing a new pair of shoes? Let me ask you, my dearest reader, several questions:
- Who has paid for the higher, and basic, education for the training of qualified workers?
- Who is going to pay the retirement of their parents – who actually worked for the education and maintenance of their sons and daughters – in case they are producing and paying taxes in another country?
- Without taxes and/or social contributions, how are peripheral social security models going to be sustainable since the one who moves are the young productive forces?
- What is going to be the price for creating an efficient system in terms of Health Care or Labour Rights? Does a Social Security system need to be efficient or universal?
- Since there is only stable employment in central EU, and their redistributive social models of peripheral countries are not sustainable, how will production be fostered in those countries? How can we guarantee a minimum income for everyone? Or would it be nice to have a right for a minimum income only in case of employment?
- Without an increase of the aggregated demand, how can the EU and the EU MS pretend to create jobs to end up with this situation?
- Ergo, without jobs – here and there – how do we plan to continue educating our children, taking care of the elderly, or being able to receive high quality health care whilst working?
How to maintain our rights alongside austerity – that damn prostituted word again – is leading to a reduction of labour rights, hyper flexibilization of working conditions, occupational health and safety, and social dialogue is under restraint in favour of competitiveness?
I only see desolation, Tiny Tim’s dying because they could not afford Health Care, more people are begging in the street and setting fire to themselves in front of town halls. A place where you have to be thankful for being exploited and for being able to afford a loaf of bread. I don’t know what conclusions you have reached my dear reader. But mine look quite apocalyptic. The Bangladeshi catastrophe of Rana Plaza in which more than 1000 workers died should be a warning to all. Taking into account the current international trade climate in which working conditions are being homogenized across the world trough unaccountable agreements. This scenario is not that far away, and is the direction that employment and social protection is heading so far. The EU is killing the EUs future.
What will you do?
Yes, yes, yes… I know what you’re going to say, but I would rather choose a challenging, just, and sustainable future than a easy certain end. In the words of Ricardo Gomez Magón, a Mexican politician from the early 20 century “there is nothing worse than a satisfied slave”.
If you change, even if you only change today, please dear reader, allow me to show you what might be your alternative future. In line with the second item of the ILC 2013: Sustainable Development, Decent Work and Green Jobs, a sustainable European Union, linked to the rest of the world – running away from neo-liberal dogma led institutions. Start to consider that this way, we are creating more divergence than equality, and start to realize that they need to start giving adequate response to workers demands – who, contrary to some impious politicians, only want to decently work and enjoy life. That, in words of the ILO DG Guy Ryder, “consolidate the relation between decent work and decent rewards”. An EU in which adequate redistribution of the wealth would absolve assimetrical shocks and future crisis – even the made-up ones. Improving citizens working conditions. Which can give all the Tiny Tim’s of Europe an opportunity. An EU which engenders Social Dialogue, Solidarity, Equality and Social Justice and uses it as foundations for a just world based sustainable economic systems.
There is always choice. Again, what will you do?