Rural System, Inc.
 Sustained rural lands; sustained profits

Decent Work

Decent work is a decent concept. Mark Levin, Director of the International Labor Organization (ILO) Cooperative Branch, Geneva, Switzerland, described the results of thoughtful work on the idea in a paper in the Owners at Work newsletter of the Ohio Employee Center. Related concepts are included here.

The idea of decent work formalizes things held by many people and places them together. Documents in 2002/2003 just begin to define decent work as employment for people where there are conditions of freedom; not having discrimination or harassment; being provided sufficient income to satisfy basic economic, social, and family needs and responsibilities; having adequate social protection for workers and their families; and being able to have a voice and participate in decisions about the work place. These seem highly consistent with long held tenets of people of the cooperative movement - people who strive for the traits of honesty, openness, social responsibility and caring for others; honest dealings in the marketplace; accurate measurements, reliable quality and fair prices, honest dealings with non-members and a unique level of openness throughout the organization. The values of social responsibility and caring for others reflect concern for the health and well-being of individuals within communities.

Seems decent.

The ILO has crafted a decent work agenda that provides insight for how Rural System may participate. There are insights about the role that the community plays in the success of the enterprise (security, support, landscape, setting, infrastructure) and thus the opportunities for appropriate and fair participation. Action items comprising progress toward gaining decent work include:

  1. Create opportunities for decent work and income in rural areas througjh enabeling investment and skills development, particularly for self-employed people and for micro, small, and medium enterprises.
  2. Make continual efforts at creating a positive, participatory culture.
  3. Move away from the "casino" economy, fueled by speculative financial markets, toward a real economy based on savings, investment, and creativity that generate solid companies and quality jobs.
  4. Promote social entrepreneurship and socially responsible investment funds. Put limitations on the linkage between pension funds and stock markets. Protect the value of savings.
  5. Unlink perceived limits on local or national economic growth with environmental regulation, encouraging investment for sustainable development using new environment-friendly technologies.
  6. Invest in information technologies and enable poor regions and countries to access these through cooperation.
  7. Place policy options on a sound footing by promoting dialog among workers, employers, and representative voices of society.
  8. Encourage open and free flow of communication and offers training and inducements to develop involvement in the enterprise (an ownership culture with knowledge of objectives, financials, production, and efficiencies).
  9. Engage in participatory management where possible.
  10. Inject fairness and accountability into local as well as the international trading and financial systems.

The latter part of the last item seem beyond our control, but the above seems like they can and need to be integrated into the vision and work of Rural System, Inc.

Robert H. Giles, Jr., March 2003

Perhaps you will share ideas with me
about some of the topic(s) above at

Maybe we can work together
... for the good of us all
... for a long time.

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