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2015-02_dc

34 D+C Vol.42.2015:2 Unemployment is on the rise. Accord- ing to the International Labour Or- ganisation (ILO), almost 202 million people worldwide were unemployed in 2013, and this number is projected to further increase over the next years. Young people are par- ticularly affected: they account for more than a third of the global unemployed. However, merely creating jobs will not be enough. The social unrest that trig- gered the Arab Spring was fuelled by a lack of promising outlooks, especially amongst the youth. People do not only want to work, they want to work in a financially rewarding and personally fulfilling man- ner. The Egyptian uprising showed im- pressively that the quality of existing and new jobs matters. Accordingly, the quan- tity and the quality of employment should be treated as equal priori- ties. Doing so is relevant, for instance for defining the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that will re- place the Millennium De- velopment Goals (MDGs) after 2015. Global challenge Assessing the quality of employment is not easy however. One term often used in this context is “decent work”. Decent work as a concept was jointly defined by gov- ernments, employers and workers in 1999. It is based on the recognition of the multi- dimensional impact of employment on workers’ lives in regard to the standard of life, personal fulfilment and social cohe- sion. As the ILO states, work is “a source of personal dignity, family stability [and] peace in the community”. The term “decent work” thus sums up the aspirations of people in their working lives. It is about providing opportunities to women and men to work productively in conditions of freedom, equity, security and dignity. Such conditions are complex and thus difficult to measure. Therefore, it is quite a challenge to incorporate decent work in employment agendas at national and in- ternational levels in ways that allow for adequate monitoring and evaluation. This is probably one of the reasons why aspects of decent employment did not get much attention in the MDG context. Only MDG target 1. B explicitly mentions decent work. It reads: “Achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all, including women and young peo- ple.” But the only indicator that provides some, albeit unsatisfactory information on its achievement is the working poor’s share of total employment. Another po- tentially relevant indicator is the rate of vulnerable employment. It is somewhat ambiguous, though: it counts, by defini- tion, all self-employed persons as “vulner- able” in spite of empirical evidence that some people in this category have found profitable livelihoods. The MDGs’ other employment-related indicators do not ad- dress decency of work. It is to be hoped that the SDGs will pay more attention to decent work. Thanks to an emerging international consensus, the related issues have risen on the develop- ment agenda. Despite the difficulties in the concep- tualisation of decent work, many develop- ing countries have adopted decent-work country programmes (DWCP) in recent years. According to the ILO, this was true of 79 developing countries in September 2014. Many of them also incorporated vari­ous decent-work strategies into their national development plans. Zambian experience In Zambia, the ILO initiated a series of dis- cussions involving the government, indus- try associations and trade unions in 2005. The result was the country’s first DWCP for the period from 2007 to 2011. Currently, the country is pursuing its second DWCP. It was launched in 2013 and will expire in 2016. For this programme, the Zambian Tripartite Consultative Labour Council identified four priorities: the effective application of human rights at work, effective social dialogue to foster sound industrial relations, boosting social protection systems, in- cluding HIV/AIDS awareness at the work place and better employment for specifically de- fined target groups. The selection of target groups followed an ILO’s identification of vulnerable groups. They include youths, women, migrant workers as well as HIV-positive and disabled people. Nonetheless, the country still faces many deficits in regard to the decency of work. The formal sector in Zambia has made some progress in adopting decent-work cri- teria.Forinstance,thenumberofem­ployees Labour Job quality matters By Gibson Masumbu, Martin Ostermeier and Kacana Sipangule Job creation is important but not sufficient. For a life in freedom, equity, security and dignity, decent work is crucial. Zambia is an example for both achievements and deficits in this area. Zambia Lusaka Tribune

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