06/19/2006

Changing patterns in the world of work

As we all know, work is central to our lives: it gives us a sense of purpose
and identity as well as providing an income to meet our material needs. Work is
one of the main ways we relate to others. It is both an individual
responsibility and a social activity, frequently involving collaboration in a
team. It can be a source of dignity and fulfilment. But it can also be a source
of exploitation and frustration. For families and communities, the availability
of decent work is a foundation for stability and social advancement.

The world of work is enormously diverse. But one of the unifying elements of
the experience of women and men from all over the world is the simple reality
of working for a living. One of the first pieces of information we are
interested in when we meet a stranger is "what do you do?" It provides a shared
point of reference around which we get to know each other.

A new Report, of the ILO Director General Juan Somavia presented at the
International Labour Conference, aims to help us all put our own experiences
and knowledge about work in the global perspective of today. It describes a
time of opportunity and uncertainty in which some of the barriers that have
prevented women and men from fully realizing their capabilities are coming
down, but in which good jobs that provide the foundation of security to build
better lives are increasingly difficult to find.

There is a growing feeling that the dignity of work has been devalued; that it
is seen by prevailing economic thinking as simply a factor of production ­ a
commodity ­ forgetting the individual, family, community and national
significance of human work. And people are reacting in conversations at home,
in the secrecy of the voting booth and, when necessary, by forcefully voicing
their complaints on the streets.

The absence of work, the quality of work, voice at work, continued gender
discrimination and unacceptably high youth unemployment are all at the heart of
politics today. Those in public and private authority with the power to change
things are increasingly criticized for not delivering the right solutions.

More information


AplusA-online.de - Source: European Agency for Safety and Health at Work