Most people worldwide rely on their own labor to generate income for themselves and their families. Employment is central to our economic survival. However, simply having access to employment is not enough. The quality of employment varies enormously, both within and across countries, and there is no guarantee that paid employment will generate sufficient income to meet basic needs, provide adequate savings for unforeseen emergencies, and sustain the material and emotional well-being of working people. Labor standards have been used to set basic benchmarks of decency: protecting the rights of workers and defining the conditions under which labor can be exchanged.
"The world population is expected to rise by 2.53 billion people, to reach a total of 9.1 billion in 2050. The increase alone is close to the total world population in 1950. Essentially all of the growth will take place in the less developed countries, and will be concentrated among the poorest populations in urban areas." (UNFPA).
The movement of people globally occurs in both voluntarily and involuntarily within ones country, region or beyond. Involuntary migration includes human trafficking and refugees fleeing war or other forms of persecution.
As developing countries continue to become increasingly integrated into the world economy, the relevance of labor standards for many of the world's low-income workers has been called into question -- do labour standards actually help vulnerable workers and, if not, might they do more harm than good?