Wednesday, 5 June 2013

The International Labour Organisation (inc. The Workers Song - Ed Pickford)

'Women and men without jobs or livelihoods really don’t care if their economies grow at 3, 5 or 10 per cent a year, if such growth leaves them behind and without protection. They do care whether their leaders and their societies promote policies to provide jobs and justice, bread and dignity, and freedom to voice their needs, their hopes and their dreams...' -Juan Somavia

Juan Somavia is the former Director-General of the International Labour Organisation (ILO). The ILO was founded in 1919, in the wake of a destructive war, to pursue a vision based on the premise that universal, lasting peace can be established only if it is based on social justice. The ILO became the first specialized agency of the UN in 1946.

Today is the first day of the 102nd International Labour Conference. The theme of the conference is on securing a stable and sustainable future for working peoples throughout the world. Agenda items for discussion are;
  1. Sustainable development, decent work and green jobs
  2. Employment and social protection in the new demographic context
These are important topics and important both in our own lives and in the working lives of our children and grandchildren.

In April of this year the ILO published a new report entitled "Resilience in a Downturn: The power of financial cooperatives". This document addresses the historical, statistical, conceptual, and policy aspects of financial cooperatives, focusing in particular on how cooperatives fare in times of crisis. Importantly, it underscores that cooperatives’ success during the global financial crisis can provide a credible alternative to the investment-owned banking system.

In analysing their performance in the crisis, the report shows that financial cooperatives have continued to provide banking services to people on low incomes, to stabilize the banking system, to regenerate local economies and, indirectly, to create employment. The report explains that cooperatives are able to do this because of their unique combination of member ownership, control and benefit. It concludes with a set of policy recommendations for governments, development agencies and other policy-makers, for instance using cooperatives not as “conduits” but as partners in the wider aims of business development, insurance against episodic poverty and decent work.

Evidence, if it were needed, that we achieve more when we work together.

The Workers' Song

Words & Music : Ed Pickford
Lyric as sung by Dick Gaughan

Come all of you workers who toil night and day
By hand and by brain to earn your pay
Who for centuries long past for no more than your bread
Have bled for your countries and counted your dead

In the factories and mills, in the shipyards and mines
We've often been told to keep up with the times
For our skills are not needed, they've streamlined the job
And with sliderule and stopwatch our pride they have robbed

But when the sky darkens and the prospect is war
Who's given a gun and then pushed to the fore
And expected to die for the land of our birth
When we've never owned one handful of earth?

We're the first ones to starve the first ones to die
The first ones in line for that pie-in-the-sky
And always the last when the cream is shared out
For the worker is working when the fat cat's about

All of these things the worker has done
From tilling the fields to carrying the gun
We've been yoked to the plough since time first began
And always expected to carry the can

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