Working together for social justice and decent work

The dignity of work and workers is a common value among the faith traditions. It is also the focus of a policy handbook
titled Convergences: Decent Work and Social Justice in Religious Traditions, for which the World Council of  Churches (WCC) has collaborated with the International Labour Organization (ILO).

In the handbook, the WCC and ILO encourage  policy-makers to work with faith communities for social protection and security for all, especially in the area of labour. Other partners in the project include the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and the Islamic Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization.

The publication explores the concepts of
solidarity and security expressed in the ILO’s Decent Work Agenda (DWA), acknowledging the specific
contributions and commitments of religious traditions for social justice,
dignity in work and economic rights.

“When Olav Fykse Tveit, general secretary
of the WCC, and I met in 2010, we both felt that our organizations should
engage in a common journey based on the conviction and knowledge that peace,
social justice and the world of work were intertwined,” says Juan Somavia, the
ILO’s director general, in the book’s foreword.

“This handbook is the very outcome of that
encounter,” he added.

The handbook explains the commitments
of various religious traditions, including Catholicism, Protestantism, Islam,
Judaism and Buddhism, showing that spiritual values are essential in the quest
for a fair globalization and wherever the subject of work is considered.

Inspired by the common religious concern
for social justice, Somavia writes, “Human dignity, solidarity and above all
the connection between work, social justice and peace put us on common ground.”

“This handbook is a first step. I see much
scope for future collaboration to expedite the dawn of a new era of social
justice drawing on our shared values,” states Somavia.

Tveit endorses Samavia’s views, saying,
“As Christians, we believe that work is given to us as a way to steward
our talents and time for the common good. In a time when so many do not have
work, we need to re-emphacize how work also contributes to justice and

Through this collaboration, the WCC
encourages churches to articulate the value of fairness regarding labour
conditions and the market. This approach has been part of the WCC Alternative Globalization Addressing People and Earth (AGAPE)
process, and was addressed in 2006 during the WCC 9th Assembly in Brazil.

The handbook also sheds light on the longstanding
WCC engagement with the ILO in inter-religious dialogue initiatives. This
manifests the potential of dialogue in bringing diverse faith traditions
together to work for common concerns for decent work and social justice.

The handbook is available in English,
Arabic, French and Spanish.