Sunday, January 31, 2010

Searching for ways to enlighten worker rights illiterates

How do you talk about worker rights to people who are illiterate about worker rights issues?

The question occurred to me because of a new survey that reveals what the New York Times calls “widespread political illiteracy” among Americans. The “News IQ Test,” conducted in early January by the Pew Research Center, found that only
-- 26% of the respondents knew that it takes 60 votes to break a filibuster in the Senate.
-- 36% knew that no Republican voted for the Senate health care bill on December 24.
-- 39% knew that the Majority Leader of the Senate is Harry Reid.

There may be a lesson here for those of us trying to convince the public that globalization, especially its trade system, needs a reform that incorporates the human rights of workers. How can we frame the issues so that the public understands what we’re talking about?

The old expression “social clause” – as in adding a “social clause” to trade agreements -- is inadequate and fortunately out of fashion. Yet we don’t have a phrase that captures the popular imagination. The goal of “decent work for everyone” comes closest.

It is a term embraced by the UN International Labor Organization in its strategy for a global coalition to support decent work. But what do you mean by “decent work”?

Here is a definition developed by Pope Benedict XVI in his encyclical, Caritas in Veritate:

“What is meant by the word ‘decent’ in regard to work? It means
• work that expresses the essential dignity of every man and woman in the context of their particular society:
• work that is freely chosen, effectively associating workers, both men and women, with the development of their community;
• work that enables the worker to be respected and free from any form of discrimination;
• work that makes it possible for families to meet their needs and provide schooling for their children, without the children themselves being forced into labor;
• work that permits the workers to organize themselves freely, and to make their voices heard;
• work that leaves enough room for rediscovering one's roots at a personal, familial and spiritual level;
• work that guarantees those who have retired a decent standard of living.”

With that comprehensive definition in mind, “decent work” is a great goal, but I’m afraid that, alone, it wouldn’t score very high in a Pew News IQ test.

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1 comment:

Chiropractic Marketing said... Illiteracy means inability to read and write. It is the root cause of ignorance which frustrates all development efforts of the government and the community. Eradication of illiteracy in a country like Bangladesh with so vast a population is undoubtedly a gigantic task. It is the social responsibility of all the literate people. men and women.To make some concerted efforts to remove illiteracy from society. The government of Bangladesh has already undertaken some important Programs in this regard. To provide primary education for at least 70 percent of children of six to ten years of age by the end of 1990. The government has launched a pro gramme called the Universal Primary Education (UPE) Project. There is another education program in which each primary school in a community is to be regarded as a Community Learning Center (CLC). The objective is to involve increasingly the parents and the members of the community in the educational activities of the school. The adults and the out-of-school youths will come to the school in the afternoon or in the evening after their work. Here they will receive not only basic education but also practical training in their vocations. The mass media, especially radio TV and newspapers can play a vital role in marking the people more conscious of the importance of literacy in the life of a nation. They can broadcast and publish regular features on various aspects of basic education. adult education and mass literacy.