Worker rights: a question of basic income?
In Episode 9 of Series 2 of The Rights Track, Evelyn Astor, Policy Officer at the International Trade Union Confederation in Brussels, talks about upholding the rights of workers around the world.
- Evelyn starts by explaining what worker’s rights are. She mentions those rights laid out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations, the International Covenant of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and in International Labour Organisation conventions and recommendations and she goes on to outline examples.
- How can these rights be measured in practice as well as in principle? The ITUC has developed a Global Rights Index to measure the degree to which worker rights are being respected.
- Evelyn talks about some of the work she’s been doing in South Asia around minimum wages
- Discussion around what a basic minimum wage or a living wage looks like in practice and what the ITUC thinks the approach should be and how they campaign for change and raise international awareness.
- Todd mentions and explains the Vernon Product Cycle and how that plays out and impacts on wages around the world.
- Evelyn explains how multinational companies continue to seek out parts of the world where they can source cheap labour and effectively bypass worker rights. She mentions a report produced by the ITUC about the labour rights violations in the supply chains of the 50 largest multi-national companies.
- Todd asks Evelyn about a recent report from Philip Alston, the UN special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights who is making a case for a universal basic income
- Evelyn goes on to explain the concept of a Basic Income and some of the ITUC’s reservations about it and its potential.
- Todd mentions Uber as an example of a company that has been criticised for some of its employment practices
- Evelyn agrees that the growing trend of what she describes as “bogus self employment” is part of the problem, but explains that there are many other practices around the hiring and firing of people that are of great concern to the ITUC including Governments which loosen labour market regulations and collective bargaining to try to attract businesses to their country.
- Evelyn makes the point that the evidence shows that these approaches don’t necessarily help economic growth either
- Evelyn talks about where ITUC works
- Discussion of a recent trial in Finland in which a number of people have been given a basic income
- Evelyn explains why the ITUC at this time is neither endorsing nor objecting to the idea of a Universal Basic Income - and why she would like to see further testing and evidence about its positive value and how it could be implemented effectively
- How workers’ rights can help address increasing inequality