Pope Francis to the ILO: Calls for Economic Reforms and Social Protection to be Strengthened for Every Worker to be Respected

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Photo: Vatican Media Screenshot

Discussions at the 2021 ILO Conference have obviously been impacted by the global Covid pandemic. Items set on the agenda before the outbreak, such as “Inequalities” or “Social Protection,” became even more urgent, and it was necessary to call globally for action for a human-centered recovery.

The ILO Director General’s report showed the serious impact of the pandemic on the loss of jobs and the increase in inequalities, such as inequalities based on age, gender, and wealth. The IYCW took part in that discussion and commented on the topic, with statements read by Cecilia from the YCW Americas Team and by Basma from the YCW African Team.

In this 2021 Conference, Pope Francis addressed the ILO urging the organization and its members to continue to exercise “special care” for the common good, stating, “The time has come to eliminate inequalities, to cure the injustice that is undermining the health of the entire human family.”

He also called for a deep reform of the economy. “The way the economy is run must be different, it must also change. The most vulnerable should not be negatively affected by measures to accelerate a recovery focused solely on economic indicators.” Among the most vulnerable are migrants and women, Pope Francis reminded.

Another important issue that Pope Francis addressed in his speech was the social protection systems, which themselves are facing major risks. They must be supported and expanded to ensure access to health services, food, and basic human needs. Respecting everyone’s dignity and human rights would include respecting workers’ rights, and organizing in unions is a right.

“Workers can count on guarantees, support, and empowerment if they are protected from the "game" of deregulation,” said the Pope, stressing that work must be understood in all its forms, including non-standard forms of employment and informal or hidden work. Work must include the dimension of care. "Work that does not take care, that destroys Creation, that endangers the survival of future generations, does not respect the dignity of workers and cannot be considered decent,” said the Pope.

Sarah Prenger, president of the International YCW, commented on the Pope’s speech. “For the IYCW, many of these Holy Father’s words really address the urgent action our world needs today. It closely links to the IYCW speeches at the ILO conference, our Covid analysis and the MIACS statement.”

Pope Francis’ speech can be found here.

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