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Toekomst van de arbeid en decent work

Dit begrip decent work wordt door veel internationale instellingen zoals de ILO (International Labour Organization) gehanteerd en verwijst naar productief werk dat een fair inkomen en bestaanszekerheid biedt. De toekomst van arbeid, werk en loopbaan is een populair onderwerp. Er wordt enthousiast over gespeculeerd, maar hoe ziet de toekomst van arbeid eruit voor mensen in ontwikkelingslanden? Voor hen is de gewenste toekomst een fatsoenlijke job die hen uit de dagelijkse armoede bevrijdt. Het creeren en waarborgen van decent work is een taai en complex vraagstuk. In de notitie: Toekomst van de arbeid en decent work gaat Gert van Brussel nader in op dit thema. Experts uit ontwikkelingslanden komen uitgebreid aan het woord.

Toekomst van de arbeid en decent work
Over de toekomst van arbeid, werk en loopbaan wordt enthousiast gespeculeerd. Op congressen en via artikelen en boeken kunnen we onze toekomstfantasieën naar harte lust stimuleren. We kunnen nadenken en huiveren over de rol van robots, kunstmatige intelligentie en korte(re) werkweken. Maar hoe ziet de toekomst van arbeid eruit voor mensen in ontwikkelingslanden?

Inleiding
Onze beelden van toekomstige arbeid hebben vooral betrekking op onze eigen Westerse, geïndustrialiseerde en innovatieve economieën. Interessant en opwindend, geografisch en in de tijd, dichtbij, maar ook al veelvuldig en diepgaand besproken. Ik wil hier de aandacht richten op economieën die in de internationale literatuur bekend staan als developing, emerging en least-developed countries (zie kader 1.). Landen, die soms nog een agrarische economie hebben of een transitie maken naar industrie en dienstverlening. In dergelijke landen, die veelal op het zuidelijk halfrond liggen, is menskracht en basale spierkracht een nog veel voorkomende en goedkope productiefactor. In dit artikel geen futurologische vergezichten. Ik richt me op de relatief nabije toekomst en ik kies voor een niet-technologische insteek. In niet-developed, of ontwikkelingslanden zoals de meeste Afrikaanse en veel Zuid- en Midden-Amerikaanse is technologie vaak nog weinig ontwikkeld. Robots vind je bijvoorbeeld vooral in de U.S., West-Europese, industrielanden, Japan en Zuid- Korea en Singapore. In dit artikel geen technologische lens dus, maar een sociaal-politieke met een focus op het begrip decent work en werkgelegenheid. Dit begrip wordt door veel internationale instituties zoals de ILO (International Labour Organization) gehanteerd en verwijst naar productief werk dat een fair inkomen en bestaanszekerheid biedt. Decent work zou je kunnen vertalen als ‘behoorlijk’ of ‘fatsoenlijk’ werk. Voor veel mensen in developing landen is dat nog een gewenste toekomst. Voor hen zijn robots en zelfrijdende auto’s nog ver weg. Wat hen bezighoudt is het verwerven van een baan krijgen, die hun armoede bestrijdt.

Kader 1
De termen: developed, developing, emerging en least developed landen of economieen worden niet op een algemeen aanvaarde manier gedefinieerd. De lijstjes met landen die onder de onderscheiden categorieën vallen, wisselen per (internationale) organisatie of instituut en met de jaren. De WTO (Wereld Handelsorganisatie) laat het aan landen zelf over om zich te categoriseren. Lastig praten dus. In dit artikel geef ik voorbeelden van landen die overduidelijk in de meeste lijstjes onder een bepaalde categorie vallen. Ik kies ervoor in dit artikel de Engelse termen te gebruiken.

Trends in werkgelegenheid en decent work
De bevordering van decent work is een van de speerpunten van de ILO (zie kader 2.). Decent work draagt volgens deze organisatie bij aan sociale en economische vooruitgang en uiteindelijk aan duurzame vrede. Naast een fair inkomen houdt dit begrip tevens in dat de werkplek veilig is en dat er sociale bescherming is voor het gezin en betere vooruitzichten voor persoonlijke ontwikkeling en sociale integratie, vrijheid voor mensen om hun problemen te uiten, mee te praten over beslissingen die hun leven raken en tot slot gelijkheid in kansen en behandeling voor mannen en vrouwen.

Hoe zit het op dit moment en op de korte termijn met decent work? En wat wordt verwacht van de werkgelegenheid? Want een toename van decent work lijkt mede afhankelijk van de handhaving en toename van de werkgelegenheid. Er moet wel eerst werk zijn als je fatsoenlijke werkcondities en wil realiseren.

Kader 2
ILO, de International Labour Organisation werd in 1919 opgericht als een agentschap van wat toen nog de Volkenbond heette. In 1946 werd de eerste gespecialiseerde organisatie van de Verenigde Naties. Het heeft een triparte structuur waarin vertegenwoordigers van werkgevers, werknemers en overheid samenwerken als gelijkwaardige partners. Momenteel heeft ILO 187 aangesloten lidstaten en ongeveer 600 programma’s en projecten in meer dan 100 landen. Jaarlijks vergadert de International Labour Conference dat fungeert als een soort parlement in Geneve. De missie van ILO is het promoten van arbeidsrecht, decent employment, social protection en het bevorderen van de dialoog over werk gerelateerde vraagstukken.

Wereldwijd is de werkloosheid de afgelopen jaren gestabiliseerd op een niveau van 5 tot 6 %, ofwel 192 miljoen personen. In developed landen wordt voor 2018 een lichte daling van 0.2 % verwacht tot 5.5 %. In developing en emerging economieën houdt de werkgelegenheid de groei van het arbeidspotentieel niet bij. De wereldeconomie schept niet genoeg banen. En verder blijkt uit de cijfers van ILO dat het tekort aan decent work blijft bestaan ondanks de stabilisatie in werkloosheid. Naar verwachting zal dat leiden tot een toename van arbeidsmigratie.  Ongeveer 1.4 miljoen werknemers zullen blijven werken in een kwetsbaar dienstverband en tot 2019 zullen dat nog eens 35 miljoen mensen bijkomen. In developing landen werken naar schatting 3 van de 4 mensen in een kwetsbare baan. Het aantal werknemers in extreme armoede zal hardnekkig boven 114 miljoen personen blijven en de komende jaren 40 % van alle werkenden betreffen. Kwetsbare banen, vulnerable jobs zijn meestal ook geen fatsoenlijke, decent jobs want kennen nauwelijks tot geen arbeidsrechtelijke en inkomensbescherming. Het gaat om banen van self-employed personen zonder personeel (!) en mensen die in familieverband, vaak onbetaald werk verrichten.

De Commission on the Future of work, die ILO in 2017 heeft geïnstalleerd, zal in 2019 bij het 100-jarig bestaan van de organisatie een rapport aanbieden met aanbevelingen hoe een toekomst te scheppen die decent en duurzame werkgelegenheid voor iedereen verschaft. De inspanningen om de toekomst van arbeid te verbeteren voor met name mensen in ontwikkelingslanden zijn er wereldwijd en zullen het komende decennium geïntensiveerd worden. Het Future of Work rapport zal worden ingebed in de Agenda 2030 voor duurzame ontwikkeling van de Verenigde Naties. Ook leiders en actieplannen van andere internationale organisaties als de G20, G7, Afrikaanse Unie en de EU bevestigen het belang van decent work voor een duurzame ontwikkeling.

Experts over decent work
Hoe kijken experts tegen de ontwikkeling van decent work aan in hun eigen land of regio? Ik heb hun soms uitgebreide antwoorden op mijn vragen hieronder onvertaald overgenomen.

Azië
Gideon Arulmani over India
India is a signatory to the ILO’s decent work agenda.  This has led to a much higher awareness of issues such as equity, exploitation, safety and worker participation in decision making.  Overall, one can say the decent work mandate has created a platform for healthy occupational development across multiple sectors. 

Having said that, it must also be noted that nature and location of a person’s job plays a significant role in the extent to which he/she benefits from the decent work directive.  Implementing the decent work framework requires an employment environment that has already been formalised.     India’s workforce is primarily informal, with some estimates indicating that 92% of Indian workers are in the informal economy (International Labour Organisation, 2017) and this figure has not declined over the last few years.  For this massive number of workers outside the formal economy, despite the decent work mandate, work can continue to be such that their incomes are not commensurate with their effort, their working environments are very likely to be unsafe, cooperative representation is usually absent and social security is negligible.  For many, having work is itself a boon and these workers are not likely to make demands that would weaken their hold on a job.  A clear indication of this reality is exemplified by the fact that while the proportion of poor in India has decreased, this decline has been greater amongst those who are unemployed than among the employed (e.g., Papola, 2008).  This could be because the poor cannot afford to not have employment.  They therefore take whatever they can get in order to survive.  For these “working poor”, decent work could well be just a fanciful notion.   From the government side, bringing employment to people is of the highest urgency.  Ensuring that this work is decent, is much lower down on the priority list.  For example, amongst other similar schemes, the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) legally assures all rural households of 100 days of employment a year, at statutory minimum wages.  The vast amount of Rs 60,000 crore (600 billion) has been set aside for this project for the financial year 2018-19 (Government of India, 2018).  This is an enormous amount and it is commendable that India is able to offer such a provision to its people.  However, an examination of the type of work that is on offer shows very obviously that it is a far cry from the decent work mandate.  Hard manual labour on construction sites, clearing forests, digging trenches for fibre optic cables along dangerous highways, are some examples.  Little or no attention paid to the basic aspects of safety and security.  Besides, the question of how much of the promised amount actually reaches the worker and how much is kept by the labour contractor is moot. 

Trade liberalisation has been fronted as the engine that has powered India’s economic growth over the last two decades.  This is true and employment opportunities have multiplied.  Here again, while employment has increased, very few of these opportunities rise up to the standards of decent work.  Emerging economies with their considerable workforces and considerably lower labour costs have become attractive outsourcing destinations.  However, this rests upon the low-skill and low-cost rationale which results in poorer economies remaining tied to the economic policies of advanced economies.  The deployment of an emerging economy’s workforce to engage with low-skill jobs in effect hinders the holistic and comprehensive occupational development of its workforce (Chatzichristou & Arulmani, 2014).  This in effect is a violation of the basic principles of decent work. 

In summary, it is an advantage that the decent work mandate has been accepted in India.  However, its implementation at present is at best aspirational.  For the future, decent work can become a reality, when the more basic economic structures such as the formalisation of employment and direction of the benefits of liberalisation toward the occupational development of the worker first become realities themselves.  

Chatzichristou, S., & Arulmani, G. (2014). Labor Market and Career Development in the 21st Century. In G. Arulmani, A. J. Bakshi, F.T.L. Leong & A. G. Watts (Eds.), Handbook of Career Development: International Perspectives (pp. 241-254). New York, USA: Springer International.
Government of India. (2018). Union Budget 2018-19. New Delhi, India: Ministry of Finance.
International Labour Organisation. (2017). India: Decent work country programme 2013 - 2017
New Delhi, India: ILO.
Papola, T. S. (2008). Employment challenges and strategies in India. Geneva: International Labour Organisation.

Zuid-Amerika
Met bijdragen Van Gabriela Cabrera, Mexico en Gabriela Aisenson, Argentinie.
Since the decade of the 80s and combined with technological progress the forms of work and the type of work has gradually but firmly and continuously changed. Neoliberal policies -structural reforms based on the privatization of public services [health, education, banking and other services such as housing; labor laws and regulations] and the establishment of the only production model- applied in Latin America have generated an increase in poverty and job insecurity.

Chile was one of the first countries to accept the conditions of the World Bank and other organizations such as the OECD, establishing neoliberal measures such as the privatization of public education and the creation of individual retirement savings funds for its workers. The main consequences were the exclusion of young people with less economic resources in their access to the university, in addition to the fact that the pension system failed to guarantee decent retirements and pensions, impoverishing those who retired.

In Mexico, more than 52% of the population lives in poverty, minimum wages are the lowest in Latin America, even below Honduras. Social inequality has been the breeding ground for the emergence of other inherent evils such as the rise of organized crime, supported by high rates of government corruption, citizen insecurity, impunity, discouragement of foreign investment, contraction of the domestic market, zero State of Law and growing distrust of society in institutions. Mexico has been in permanent crisis for two decades: starting with the economic crisis - annual growth of less than 2% - followed by social, political and environmental crisis.

More than 60% of the economically active population is engaged in the informal economy, with which State resources are scarce and it depends on the sale of oil and the remittances of Mexican migrant workers in the United States. This situation, coupled with long and complex administrative processes to create businesses and employment, discourages the market and the formal economy, with which public services such as health, education, housing, are permanently in a precarious situation, directly impacting on the quality of the services and work of public providers. This leads the government to justify its privatization.

Each year, 30% of young people who achieve access to upper secondary education drop out for economic reasons, need to work, lack of study culture and experience of school failure. They are increasing the army of "ninis" (neither work nor study), who in the best of the cases venture into the informal economy with unskilled precarious jobs or, in the worst scenario, are caught by organized crime.

With a labor market so small and difficult, for just over eight years, young people graduating from higher education (tertiary education) have begun to extend their training, either because they need a postgraduate degree to compete in better conditions for a position of work, or to access the postgraduate scholarships, becoming "eternal" students who have masters, doctorate or postdoctoral degrees, but no work experience. The majority, however, must work and accept extremely precarious working conditions, where they are not paid for a professional job, under the pretext that they are learning. This figure is that of the "scholar".

In Mexico is also growing "outsourcing", a form of precarious work, in which a company hires workers under minimum working conditions, but do not work in it, but this company "sublet" to other companies almost always larger, corporate transnational, where workers perform substantive work, without for this second company, employing them represent no labor obligation. Workers are rotated and taken from one company to another without considering their needs - they may be studying or living in areas far from work centers. This condition leads to the three actors - workers, contractor and work company - to establish a relationship lacking solid links, in which the identity processes are minimized and discouraged.

Today, Latin American economies that were building more stable internal markets, such as Bolivia or Nicaragua, are going through social and political situations of instability, so no change is foreseen to improve their economy. In Central America, only Costa Rica has managed to remain stable if not untouched by the lurches of international economic crises.

What to do?
It is necessary to build by consensus, a new productive model based on sustainable development that allows the redistribution of wealth in a more equitable manner and guarantees democratic freedoms. This situation will only be possible with a State that seeks the eradication of poverty, promotes social justice and is willing to seat employers, trade unions and civil society groups to dialogue and agree on the satisfaction of consumer needs in goods and services, particularly those that generate well-being such as guarantees in access to education, health, housing, decent employment and recreation.

The State: must guarantee the participation and active listening of all the actors coordinating the discussion and providing information and specialized advisers, to begin to build this new model. The state must regulate employer-worker relations in a framework of legality and social justice.

Entrepreneurs: must be willing not to appropriate the total profits, but to share the profits of their company or business with their workers, apart from paying punctually the taxes for the common actions of the State.

Workers: They must be willing to work with quality, to fight for their rights, to organize and contribute.

Civil society groups: Must provide truthful information about the needs of consumers and other interest groups [women, youth, sexual preferences, ethnic group and physical condition].

Only in this way can the structural damage be reversed by taking advantage of the boom in technology and the sciences that are developing wealth, new technology and services.

Working conditions in Argentina

Argentina has a population that exceeds 43 million. At present, the data from official statistics (Instituto Nacional de Estadísticas y Censos [INDEC], 2017a) is discouraging.

On the other hand, those who can get a job, do not have the same conditions nor the same rights. The labor market is segmented into two different circuits, one formal and one informal, with little or no possibility of movement between the two (Neffa, 2003).

Over the past thirty years, informal work has been one of the main problems the labor market has faced, and its negative trend only receded in 2006, after the national government included the principles of decent work in the agenda through the Department of Labor, Employment and Social Security (Ministerio de Trabajo, Empleo y Seguridad social, 2013).

Workers in the informal sector have poor quality jobs, low wages, long working hours, lack of access to training opportunities, and hardly any access to the legal and protective social system. These conditions place both the workers and their families in a vulnerable situation in terms of work and income. It is not possible to specify how many people are in this situation, but some studies estimate that more than a third of dependant workers are not properly registered. For young people, the situation is even more serious, since it has been found that 59% of young people are unregistered workers (Bertranou & Casanova, 2015).

In 2016, as a result of the economic crisis and the new national government, more than 5,000 companies have closed, which has led to an increased number of job losses in both formal and informal sectors. This situation becomes meaningful in an atmosphere where social actors create meanings about the labor market and its possibilities of labor and social insertion.

For the most vulnerable groups of young people, the transition to work occurs earlier and under more precarious conditions.

In the second half of 2016, 6.3% of the population and 4.8% of households were found to be destitute - those whose income is not high enough to reach a minimum threshold for nutritional needs. Almost a third of the population of our country is in poverty - those whose income is insufficient to purchase, through goods and services, a set of food and non-food necessities which are considered essential (clothing, transport, education, health, among others.), amounting to 23.1% of households.

Furthermore, the job market in Argentina is complex. Recent official data (INDEC, 2017b) indicates that the unemployment rate has reached 7.6%. Moreover, the youth unemployment rate is 14.8%, and the female population is even further affected (19.7%). A recent study (Centro de Estudios del Trabajo y el Desarrollo [CETyD], 2017) shows that 60.5% of respondents perceive reduced opportunities to get a job compared to the previous year, a situation that is getting worse for the unemployed. In addition, this report argues that job uncertainty has grown, mostly among employees, women and especially youth. Due to the fear of losing their current jobs and not being able to find another one, a lot of people accept working conditions that are far from what can be defined as decent. There are multiple barriers that affect its transition to quality jobs among which three major challenges that reveal the need for a comprehensive approach from public policies can be identified: 1) dropping out of school; (2) the lack of care services that allow to reconcile the responsibilities of home with the participation in the labor market and in educational and training activities; and (3) the insufficient generation of decent work opportunities

Many young people who cannot complete high school, an essential requirement in our country which allows access to the formal sector of the labor market, are generally compelled to work in the informal sector of the economy. However, even those who complete their studies recognize the difficulties of becoming part of the formal sector of the labor market. In this context, we could say that they are the group with the greatest deficit in securing decent work (ILO, 2002).

Moreover, many young people in socially vulnerable situations construct their understanding of work related to family contexts, where relatives have not had positive, valued and quality jobs over the course of two generations. Their day to day survival has depended on temporary jobs called “changas”, social plans and also, in some cases, illegal activities. This situation has a negative impact on shaping one’s identity, in developing resources in order to be included in the sphere of work and building meaningful life paths; hence it affects the ability to secure decent work.

Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Censos [INDEC]. (2017a). Encuesta Permanente de Hogares. Incidencia de la Pobreza y de la Indigencia. Resultados del segundo semestre de 2016, [Household Survey. Incidence of Poverty and Indigence. Results of the second half of 2016]. 1(53). Recuperado de
http://www.indec.gob.ar/uploads/informesdeprensa/eph_pobreza_02_16.pdf   
Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Censos [INDEC]. (2017b). Encuesta Permanente de Hogares. Mercado de trabajo, indicadores socioeconómicos. Resultados del cuarto trimestre de 2016 [Household Survey. Labor market, socioeconomic indicators. Results for the fourth quarter of 2016],  1(2), Recuperado de
http://www.indec.gob.ar/uploads/informesdeprensa/indicadores_eph_4trim16.pdf  
Neffa, J. (2003). El trabajo humano. Contribuciones al estudio de un valor que permanece. [Human work. Contributions to the study of a value that remains]. Buenos Aires: Lumen.

Afrika
Kobus Maree, Pretoria, Zuid-Afrika belicht decent work vanuit de interventie-methodiek.
My own research has shown conclusively that Life Design- (LD) related interventions can and do work well in a developing country context (such as South Africa) – the caveat being that continual contextualisation of LD intervention (including de-, re-, and co-contextualization) is imperative. Unless we consider e.g. the notions of Ubuntu, Ujamaa, and Isanti (the African emphasis on collective needs such as connection to others, humanity, compassion, and respect for others’ dignity subsume the needs of the individuals in the need of the collective.in LD interventions, we are setting us up for limited success at best.

My colleagues, students and I have applied the intervention in multiple contexts (in my case, also and especially in resource-scarce regions challenged by major disadvantage). Life Design (LD) interventions can be used to advance clients’ career adaptability and career resilience, can be tailored to promote their employability, sets the scene for helping clients find a sense of meaning and purpose in their work-lives, and contribute to finding sustainable decent work. That said, any Life Design-related project should essentially be regarded from an action research perspective and outcomes be interpreted accordingly. That is, researchers should commence their interventions from an accepted LD foundation and subsequently refine and tailor future interventions on the basis of what has been learnt to the distinctive context of the next project. Lastly: The role of other stakeholders (government in particular) and the acceptance and inclusion of LD theory and practice in policy documents is of overriding importance.

Tot besluit
Hoe moeten we bovenstaande trends en observaties beschouwen? Op de eerste plaats is het duidelijk dat economische groei en zelfs groei van de werkgelegenheid niet zonder meer tot een toename van decent employment leiden. Andere zaken dan alleen economie en arbeidsmarkt spelen een rol. Sociale, culturele en historisch aspecten spelen ook een rol, zoals bijvoorbeeld het kastenstelsel in India. Het scheppen van decent work is een taai en complex vraagstuk. Het robotiseren van een industrietak lijkt ontzettend veel makkelijker: investeren, mensen opleiden en hupsakee.

Zoals bij veel andere economische en maatschappelijke internationale ontwikkelingsvraagstukken is ook hier de vraag of we onze Westerse ideologische kaders, waarden en normen v.w.b. fatsoenlijk werk moeten promoten over de hele wereld. Dat geldt met name voor het concept economische groei. Daar hebben we veel aan te danken en dat kan ook bijdragen aan betere leef- en werkomstandigheden voor mensen op het Zuidelijk halfrond. Maar die groei heeft ook schaduwzijden. Het succes zal mede afhangen van een open dialoog tussen de betrokken landen, donor en doellanden om een duurzame en respectvolle implementatie te waarborgen. 

Moeten we het initiatief voor dit soort ontwikkelingen alleen overlaten aan grote internationale, gebureaucratiseerde instellingen? Ik denk dat visionaire, eigenwijze werkgevers op lokaal niveau vaak sneller, meer kunnen bereiken. Maar ja, ga die maar eens zoeken.

Een verkorte versie van deze notitie verscheen als artikel in het augustus nummer 2018 van LoopbaanVisie.

Gert van Brussel, voorjaar 2018