08/31/2006, 00.00
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UN: "Enough exploitation, Asia needs decent work"

At the 14 meeting of the Asian section of the International Labour Organisation, governments, trade unions and industrialists stressed the need to create work that lifts people out of poverty and guarantees basic rights for all. This is the stand of the Vatican.

Pusan (AsiaNews) – The Asian continent "needs more than just jobs, it needs to introduce the concept of decent work that can lift people out of poverty and provide basic rights to all."

The statement was released yesterday by Asian governments, trade unions and industrialists gathered in South Korea for a meeting of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) – a body of the United Nations – based on the theme: "Realising Decent Work in Asia".

This is the fourteenth such meeting, which takes place every four years: government representatives from some 40 countries and territories as well as workers' and employers' organisations participated.

"We all agree that getting people access to work is the surest way out of poverty," said Athauda Senewiratne, Sri Lanka's minister of labour relations. "New jobs, however, have to yield incomes above the poverty line."

At the opening of the meeting, the ILO presented a report outlining how economic growth in Asia had reduced the number of people who live on less than one dollar day from 850 million since 1990 to 600 million. Still, about 1.9 billion in the region live below the two dollars day.

The delegates said the concept of "decent work" included the creation of jobs and businesses, investment opportunities, social protection for labourers and workplace rights, including organisation.

Chen Lantong, vice-president of the China Enterprise Confederation, said: "Decent work should enable everybody to live a better life." Ashraf  Tabani, president of the Employers' Federation of Pakistan, added that "the phrase 'decent work' over the last few years has received universal recognition. What's needed now is to address the 'decent work deficit'."

The concept of "decent work" was the fulcrum of an address given last June by Mgr Silvano Tomasi, permanent observer of the Holy See to the ILO during the 95th Session of International Labour Conference

Mgr Tomasi said: "A globalisation that fosters economic growth without equity blocks access to decent work and calls into question the current functioning of the international structures created to facilitate the flow of ideas, capital, technology, goods and people for the common good."

The pontifical representative maintained that 'if the 'decent work' principle is not adopted, too many people remain excluded from enjoying it because they are indecently exploited or are altogether out of work." Mgr Tomasi said "tens of millions" of people were kept on the margins of the global economy despite their abilities and talents: "undocumented migrants working in agriculture, in manufacturing, in domestic service; women in the textile industry working in unhealthy conditions and with miserable salaries; workers labelled by their race, cast or religion."

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“L’Asia: ecco il nostro comune compito per il terzo millennio!” - Giovanni Paolo II, da “Alzatevi, andiamo”