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Work, eat, sleep. Repeat.

Is the reality for many of us in today's capitalist world. However, the reality of what work entails is vastly varied. What is the status quo of labour in 2019? A question far too complex to answer – but as the gap between the ultra-rich and the extremely poor continues to widen, in developing countries as well as those considered 'developed', it is time for us to pause and reflect on the reality of labour in our societies, what we can do to make sure everyone can work in dignity, that no one working a full-time job, 45 hours per week, is still incapable of supporting their family, and that children are protected from child-labour.

How can every single person flourish in today's world, amidst large-scale job automation, often inhumanly impossible targets to hit, which are set by multibillion-dollar corporations and a growing dismissal of human rights?

Welcome back to FairPlanet's weekly roundup. Labour and the present and future of jobs are what we are focusing on today. So Read. Debate: and never forget that your engagement, however small, can make a difference.

The good

More people across the world have jobs

It has been reported that the global unemployment rate has dropped to a total of 5 percent, which according to a report by the International Labor Organization (ILO), is the lowest global unemployment rate since the economic crisis of 2008. This five percent accounts for 172 million people worldwide, which is 2 million less than in 2017. The same report also predicts that this rate will remain stable over the next coming years.

In the same breath however, the ILO report also raises alarming concerns that while global unemployment is indeed at a low point, the jobs being created are poor quality jobs – in terms of working conditions and pay – that keep most of the world's workers locked in inescapable poverty.

Overworked and underpaid is a phrase inherently linked to today's labour force across the world. And while low unemployment rates mean more people are joining the workforce and activating their right to work, poor job quality is something that should not and cannot be overlooked.

The bad

Labour conditions are getting worse for many of the world's workers

Back in June, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted, "If a person is working 40h/week & is paid so little that they need gov help to make ends meet, it’s not the person that’s a weight on our system - it’s the company."

There are many definitions of poor labour conditions. It can mean workplaces that employ children thus enforcing illegal child labour. It can also mean working in the Amazon warehouses where employees report to having 18 minutes off per day to go to the bathroom, take a short rest or socialise. It can mean labour in dangerous conditions, where employees are exposed to toxins that impact their health. It can also mean working around the clock and simply not making enough money to support yourself or your family.

The one thing that ties all of these definitions together however, is the policy enforced and enacted upon by the companies that employ workers, as well as the laws that allow or stop these companies from continuing with their practice.

Child labour is a major issue in today's world. This is often present in manual labour jobs in agriculture, often in developing countries. FairPlanet has covered child labour in the tobacco industry and Human Rights Watch's work in shedding light on this issue on a global scale and helping to end child labour in the industry.

If you want to support the work of Human Rights Watch covering this topic, feel encouraged to support them by making a donation.


End child labour in Zimbabwe's tobacco industry!

by Deniz Zehra Tavli

Large multinational tobacco companies purchase tobacco grown in Zimbabwe, knowing that children are working on the fields and face abuse and exploitation.
Labour has many shades
forced labour work in Myanmar (Burma)

Forced Labour is about Politics and Economics as much as Crime

by FairPlanet Editorial Team

The battle against exploitative labour should be part of a moral and political struggle over the kind of society we want to live in.
child labour zimbabwe

Child labour in Zimbabwe’s tobacco and gold industries

by Cyril Zenda

In early April, Human Rights Watch published a damning report on child labour and others human rights abuses that are rife in the Zimbabwean tobacco industry.
slavery domestic worker migrant

Migrant labour - modern day slavery?

by Bob Koigi

As the world is increasingly becoming globalised, migrant labour markets cannot be ignored, and require support and attention from across public.
trump Jair Bolsonaro

Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro: "I am just like this”

by Ellen Nemitz

Bolsonaro never tried to hide his obscure side: he is sexist, xenophobic and racist.
Our new colleague in Brazil
Ellen Nemitz
WhatsApp Image 2019-07-19 at 22.26.02

Ellen Nemitz is a Brazilian journalist based in Curitiba. She has been writing about human rights since 2014, especially about mental health, migration, LGBTI population and gender equality. She has also written about scientific and environment topics.

As the world's working conditions continue to violate human rights across the globe, what do you think is the key thing we should be fighting for?

I believe that we should fight for people to be empowered. By giving education and information, we also give them voice to fight for better working conditions.

Country focus

The landlocked country of Zimbabwe has a population of over 16 million people, and because of the previous colonial rule of Britain over the nation, the official language spoken is English, alongside local Shona and Sindebele.

Following the independence of the country in 1980, veteran former president Robert Mugabe ran a 37-year rule until he was toppled over by the military in November 2017. Then vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa was elected as president by the ruling Zanu-PF party and was later officially elected as president in 2018.

While the fall of Mugabe freed the press from his control and promised a new era for the nation, the country still remains largely in poverty, with its economy heavily depending on mining and agriculture sectors.

In 2019, millions of people in Zimbabwe face hardship, hunger and chaos as the economy comes close to meltdown and drought worsens.

The new government is struggling to overcome the legacy of the dictator’s 30 years of repressive rule and the consequences of its own failure to undertake meaningful political reform.