Today, on World Day for Decent Work, we remember all the workers who suffer from a lack of decent working conditions, especially the overloaded and poorly paid health workers and those 225 million workers who lost their jobs to Covid-19 – the majority of them women.
We remember the workers still doomed to forced labour; all the public workers laid off because of austerity measures and who are still unemployed; the new generations of workers exploited by AI (Artificial Intelligence) and the new platform capitalism; and especially the overloaded and poorly paid health workers who witnessed the loss of so many lives because of governments' lack of preparedness and resources.
These conditions are usually credited to the economy and the functioning of the markets, such as the global financial and economic crisis of 2008, or to the Covid-19 pandemic lately – which according to an ILO report has caused the loss of 225 million full-time jobs, the majority of them by women.
Whereas some are calling for a new social contract that tackles precarity and informality, more public investment, and strengthening occupational health and safety regulations, we also realize there are lots of resources stolen and hidden from the public view.
IMF austerity cuts in just 15 countries have blocked recruitment of over 3 million nurses, teachers and other essential public sector workers.
The recently published Pandora Papers, as well as the Panama and the Paradise papers before, reveal a complex system of hidden wealth, tax avoidance and, in some cases, money laundering by the ruling class all over the world.
The International Consortium for Investigative Journalism (ICIJ) estimates that between US$ 5.6 trillion to US$ 32 trillion are hidden in tax heavens, whereas the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has said the use of tax havens costs governments worldwide up to US$ 600 billion in lost taxes each year!
It is not just a pandemic or an economic crisis that we are fighting, it is corruption and daylight robbery! These are resources that have been stolen from the public, which could have been used to alleviate or solve many of the problems that we have faced over all these years.
At the same time, the disastrous consequences for public services produced by the same IMF and its commitment to austerity have been exposed by this pandemic.
Understaffing and lack of public investment have pushed frontline workers into dangerous and devastating situations, struggling to provide the vital care and quality services their communities need and deserve.
To restore its credibility, it is time for the IMF to implement a deep institutional shift, away from austerity and towards policies which bolster our public services and support the workers who provide them. Ending with the public sector wage bill constraints would be a good start.
A joint report by PSI, ActionAid and Education International, to be launched on 12 October, exposes how IMF austerity cuts in just 15 countries have blocked recruitment of over 3 million nurses, teachers and other essential public sector workers.
The report reveals the implementation of public sector wage bill cuts as both blunt and directionless, contradicting development goals and undermining the capacity of governments to respond to intersecting crises.
In short, on this World Day for Decent Work it is important to send a clear signal to the authorities for more transparency, fair and equitable policies, and more resources and ambition to tackle corruption at all levels.