Democratizing Work: Securing Economic Rights Through Just Economic Policies
The forum consisted of 130 sessions running nearly 24 hours a day, conducted in nine different languages. Organized by eight prominent women scholars, Democratizing Work featured leading economists, such as Jayati Ghosh, Thomas Piketty, Dani Rodrick, Jean Dréze and OSUN EDI’s Director, Pavlina R. Tcherneva.
Echoing the Democratizing Work op-ed turned manifesto that was published one year ago in over 40 newspapers, in 27 languages and 36 countries, the forum established that the central lesson of the COVID crisis is that working people are much more than resources destined to feed rapacious markets.
According to the manifesto, "Human health and the care of the most vulnerable cannot be governed by market forces alone. If we leave these things solely to the market, we run the risk of exacerbating inequalities to the point of forfeiting the very lives of the least advantaged. How to avoid this unacceptable situation?"
The Global Forum provided the answer: democratize, decommodify, and decarbonize work by involving employees in workplace decision-making, guaranteeing useful employment for all, and marshaling collective efforts to preserve life on the planet.
A proposal for job guarantees was a central theme throughout all three days of the event, with an emphasis on connecting the right to employment with economic policy. Advocates argued that the guarantee provides a direct approach to securing economic rights by offering a genuine public employment option driven by local communities.
“The job guarantee is one of the very powerful ways to contribute to the decommodification and the decarbonization of the economy,” said Thomas Piketty, author and Professor of Economics at the Paris School of Economics, in a key conversation with Tcherneva. Pointing out that a “package of solutions” was necessary to tackle inequality, Piketty said that both a job guarantee and a basic income are needed but that the guarantee is “more ambitious” as it offers full-time work with at least a minimum wage. “It also comes with the process of empowering local actors and associations to redefine what economic value is and redefine our priorities.”
On the subject of unpaid or underpaid labor that involves helping people who have particular problems or special needs, Jayati Ghosh, Economist at UMASS Amherst, noted "To remedy the problem of care work, there is no other solution but public employment–decent, well-paid public employment on a massive scale.”
“I think there’s a great opportunity now,” said attendee Jean Dréze, economist and social activist, regarding the event. “Judging from the discussions in this forum, there’s an enormous interest in employment guarantees across the world that didn’t exist ten years — maybe even five years ago — except in specialized circles.”
Watch the conversation with Thomas Piketty here and watch the EDI site for more forthcoming videos from the forum.
Post Date: 10-19-2021