Article 23 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that: (a) Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment; (b) Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work; (c) Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection; (d) Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.
Under article 6 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, States parties recognize these rights and undertake to achieve their full realization through technical and vocational guidance and training programmes, and through policies and techniques designed to achieve steady economic, social and cultural development and full and productive employment under conditions safeguarding fundamental political and economic freedoms to the individual.
In 1964 the ILO General Conference adopted Employment Policy (No. 122), under which States parties -- with a view to stimulating economic growth and development, raising levels of living, meeting manpower requirements and overcoming unemployment and underemployment -- undertook to declare and pursue, as a major goal, an active policy designed to promote full, productive and freely chosen employment aimed at ensuring: (a) that there is work for all who are available for and seeking work; (b) that such work is as productive as possible; and (c) that there is freedom of choice of employment and the fullest possible opportunity for each worker to qualify for, and to use his skills and endowments in, a job for which he is well suited, irrespective of race, colour, sex, religion, political opinion, national extraction or social origin. The policy is to take due account of the stage and level of economic development and the mutual relationships between employment objectives and other economic and social objectives, and is to be pursued by methods that are appropriate to national conditions and practices.
[Industrialized countries] Since production in the capitalist system is based on profit-motive and not on necessity, the right to work is not recognized. At the same time no adequate provision is made for social welfare. The denial of the right to work is effectively a denial to bring together individual and national development.
[Developing countries] An International Labour Organization report, the World Labour Report (1995), explains that the employment situation in developing countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, is determined by local market conditions which continue to discourage both domestic and foreign investment. The explanations provided by the Director-General of the International Labour Organization (ILO) are far from satisfactory, especially when he states that African countries should undertake major reforms. Another explanation may however be found in the injustice and imbalance engendered by the world economic order. The ILO report suggests that the only area where Africa has not been marginalized is that of aid. The "aid" in question could easily be discontinued entirely if the world's wealth were distributed equitably among all nations.
Shortages or serious crises have inevitable consequences on the labour market with increasingly frequent recessions hampering the development of any policy aimed at improving the conditions of the worker and his family. Unemployment becomes a daily concern for the individual as well as for society and the search for work a priority. Workers and their families who are affected by job instability or insecurity are extremely vulnerable.
Workers also face serious risks in performing certain jobs which they are forced to accept because of the difficult economic situation. Nowadays, the ILO conventions prescribing workplace hygiene measures are never observed anywhere. This is a serious violation of the worker's rights. Migrant workers are certainly those most affected because of their clandestine recruitment and sometimes even of the complicity of the host State. Violations of the right to work take several forms: (a) Substantial falls in wage levels, with corresponding declines in living standards; (b) Increased levels of unemployment; (c) Reductions in worker protection in terms of occupational health and safety standards; (d) Limitations on the right to strike; (e) Weakened bargaining power of the working class; and (f) Many violent social conflicts that can lead to serious political and economic crises. These are the main consequences of violations.