In the session on the Future World of Work at the UNI World Congress, Director General of the International Labour Organisation Guy Ryder told trade union delegates that they were fundamental in tackling the issues arising from digitalization and artificial intelligence. The world is undergoing an intense period of transformative revolution, with the world of work changing at a hitherto unprecedented pace.
“Trade unions are the bests agents of positive change we have – the key to mobilising, and the core of the alliances which strive for social justice,” said Ryder. “However, the challenges we face in the future world of work are too great to ignore.”
“We tackle these challenges at a time of great danger. Political discourse of public life, which would not be accepted a few years ago. We live in a time when telling the truth in politics is optional – if the faces are inconvenient, change them. If taxes are too high, pay them somewhere else or not at all.”
“If the long arc of history does indeed bend towards social justice, there are times when it takes a diversion in the opposite direction, and this is one of them. It is the brutalism of the 1930s and we have no excuse – as organized labour most of all – if we do not learn the lessons and act on those lessons.”
“If trade unions do not mobilise with its allies to shape the future world of work, then that future will be imposed by this new extremist and brutal agenda. A future in which all that we have fought for – labour rights, inclusion, social justice, sustainability and democracy – have no place.”
Unions have been under attack for decades, but Ryder warned that a defensive stance would be enough to combat the size of the transformation which faces us.