When in 2005 the trade union movement together with SOLIDAR and others launched the Decent Work for a Decent Life campaign at the World Social Forum in Porto Alegre (photo) it was very much thought of as an initiative that addressed the South, as it was before the global crisis began. Since the crisis, and due to the so-called liberalisation of the labour market, working conditions and pay have both deteriorated in the North, falling below standards that could be described as decent. The gender pay gap is still a reality, precarious work and indecent employment conditions as well as indecent salaries concern young and elderly people alike in too many EU member states. The demand for higher pay and a minimum wage in Europe is the right response by the trade union movement and needs to be supported. Workers and employees pay for the inequality by not being correctly paid.

Unfortunately we also contribute to this through our consumption attitudes or patterns: we should be aware of the social price of Ryanair, Primark, Amazon and others. For too long we have been confronted with the discourse of so-called flexicurity, with the call for more open and flexible labour markets in the guise of market reform, as seen recently in France. Insulting the unemployed is not very stylish Monsieur le President! It is just unacceptable. Not everybody can have access to elite schools or higher education, as poverty is not only material but also cultural. The happy few can enjoy such privileges, but the social elevator is too often restricted.

On 17 November the EU will hold its Social Summit in Gothenburg. Unions and social NGOs will be present and we expect that there will be the Proclamation and the launch of a European Pillar of Social Rights that will actually live up to its promises. Rights, not principles, and policies that ensure those rights can be exercised.Twenty years ago SOLIDAR contributed to the campaign Workers’ Rights are Human Rights. We were side by side with the unions in the fight for Decent Work and today we join them in the fight for Social Protection and for severe consequences for companies and employers who try to avoid their responsibilities.

It is in the DNA of our movement. The social issue is our humanist approach. This is a value we need to defend and promote, as indecent living and working conditions are undermining human dignity and are the seed for anti-democratic rhetoric. This 7 October shall not be just another World Day, it will be the one we use to focus on our “capital”, the 2030 agenda. Time again to get out on the street, to promote decent work and social protection TOGETHER  as progressives need to stand together and anticipate not only the next European elections.

Related content