“We have entered an age of new brutalism,” ILO Director General Guy Ryder told delegates of the 5th World Congress of UNI in Liverpool on 19 June. “We have entered an age where it is OK to dehumanize those who are rejected, who are marginalized, who are different or who disagree. It is the brutalism of the 1930s and we have no excuse – the international organized labour movement least of all – if we don’t learn the lessons, heed them and act upon them.”
Mr Ryder noted that the current political discourse of public life is being dragged onto terrain that even a few years ago would not have been accepted. “We live at a time when telling the truth in politics appears to be optional: if the facts are inconvenient then ignore them or better still change them; when paying taxes in the corporate world seems to be optional too – if they are too high here, pay them somewhere else or not at all. When the harsh realities of rejection mean turning desperate refugees back to their fate at sea; separating infants from their parents at frontiers, because they lack the right papers. When the extraordinary opulence of the few co-exists with the growing deprivation and poverty of the many.”
“History provides the best argument that trade unions are the best agents of positive change”, the ILO Director General said. “if organized labour and its allies do not mobilize to do what it takes to shape the future of work that we want and that the world needs, then that future will be imposed by the agenda of the new brutalism, an agenda in which labour rights, inclusion, social justice, decent work, sustainability and indeed democracy have no place.”
The full text of ILO Director General Guy Ryder’s speech to the 5th UNI World Congress can be found below.