The Global Deal

World Social Justice Day: Using Social Dialogue to Achieve Social Justice for Disadvantaged Workers


19 February 2021 - One year into the crisis, the pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on those workers who are the most vulnerable. Workers in low wage jobs and those with insecure contracts are the first to lose their jobs but the last to participate in the process of job recovery and rehiring that follows closures and shutdowns. Economically vulnerable workers, in particular workers in the bottom 40% of the income distribution, are also more exposed to health risks as they are overrepresented in jobs that provide less opportunity for social distancing measures. These jobs also pay less than jobs that allow for better protection from the virus.

Female workers, young workers, the lower educated, migrants, and workers of colour hold many of these low paying jobs. Groups of workers who are already at a disadvantage in the labour market are carrying a disproportionate part of the burden, while at the same time often working at the frontline of the crisis by providing services and products that are essential to the economies and society.

Social dialogue, however, can deliver solutions that ensure that the burden and benefits of recovery and growth are broadly and fairly shared, and that social justice is achieved. Partners to the Global Deal continue to take action and use social dialogue to achieve more equitable and fairer outcomes. Some recent initiatives include:


  • Agreements between social partners and the federal government of Belgium to substantially improve wages and job quality of hospital sector workers and home nurses[1]. Wages will increase on average by 6%, 4.000 extra nursing staff will be hired so as to reduce the burden of work of the occupation, working schedules will be made more stable and predictable by limiting last-minute changes and longer consecutive holiday periods (3 instead of 2 weeks) will be made possible.


  • The government of Spain and social partners (employer organisation CEOE and trade unions CCOO and UGT) reaching agreement, after 4 months of negotiation, on the principle that riders for home delivery platforms are to be considered as paid and subordinated employees by default[2]. It will still be possible for these platforms to work with freelancers provided the platform can justify that these are working autonomously and provided this remains exceptional.




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