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Decent Work and Football

news - 23/10/2009

The 2010 FIFA World Cup is being hosted by the Republic of South Africa. This opportunity has come at a very good time from South Africa's point of view. Despite promises of economic growth, the country has 46% unemployment, a recession in the construction sector, and nearly 90% of its workforce in the unofficial sector. The growth in the construction labour force stimulated by the World Cup has brought a yearned-for change for the better. At least 3.2 billion euros are being invested in stadiums, transport, communication and hotels. When it was first known that South Africa would be hosting the World Cup, the over 30,000 building workers hoped for working conditions that would lead to a better life.

“Decent Work, Decent Life” Campaign

Workers’ rights groups are running a campaign for decent work in football in the lead-up to the 2010 World Cup.
Launched publicly in January 2007, Decent Work, Decent Life is a global campaign led by an alliance of civil society organizations, the trade union movement and progressive political forces: SOLIDAR,  the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC),  Global Progressive Forum, World Solidarity/Social Alert  and the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC).

Decent Work is a concept devised by the International Labour Organization (ILO)  in 1999, and supported by trade unions, NGOs and other civil society organisations. It brings together the number and the quality of jobs. The main elements of Decent Work are employment creation, workers’ rights, social protection and social dialogue.

The Centre's Programme for Workers' Activities, in close association with the Bureau for Workers' Activities of the ILO (ACTRAV), aims to meet the changing needs of workers' organizations by running training courses for trade union leaders,   producing workers' education and training material, implementing specific projects, and providing distance education and advisory services.

The Decent Work, Decent Life campaign is also linking up with initiatives involving supply chains in the sporting goods industry.

During a meeting at the World Social Forum in Nairobi, Kenya, under the banner of the Decent Work, Decent Life campaign, the organizations issued a memorandum to the organizers of the World Cup, FIFA, calling for workers' rights to be respected in all the industries associated with the world's most popular game.

“The organisers of the 2010 World Cup, FIFA and the companies which will benefit from huge investments in infrastructure owe it to football fans world-wide to ensure that their game is not tainted by labour rights violations and that instead all those who contribute to the success of the this event do so under decent working conditions”, said Anita Normark, the General Secretary of Building Workers International (BWI).

As the South African Parliament began public hearings on amendments to the Labour Relations Act that could see labour brokers being banned, unions representing 2010 World Cup Stadium workers met in Johannesburg from 26 to 27 August 2009 to hear about the prevalence of labour brokers in their sector – and how to prevent them from mushrooming in Brazil, which will build new stadiums ahead of hosting the World Cup in 2014.

Joni Musabayana, Deputy Director of the International Labour Organization, gave the keynote speech, calling on FIFA to uphold decent working conditions as the rest of the World Cup projects are completed. The Decent Work campaign model in South Africa will be discussed with Brazilian trade unions and other organizations supporting the Decent Work Campaign in preparation for the 2014 World Cup.

Fair play does not only mean behaving correctly during a match.  Fair play means decent working conditions for the workers building the stadiums, for those who clean the hotels, mow the lawns and drive the buses to the stadiums. It means getting a wage one can live on and being safe at work. It means reasonable working hours, secure employment and the right to protest when something is wrong.