Social protection floors - more information

Today, as much as 80 per cent of the global population does not have access to social protection and lives in social insecurity, facing complete loss of income when a personal or national economic crisis strikes. Social Protection was pushed to the fore of the international agenda after the obvious damage due to the financial and economic crises, and a 2012 ILO Recommendation operationalizes Social Protection Floors as two-pronged, providing universal access to essential health care and basic income security in the case of maternity, for children and when people are sick, unemployed, disabled, and old.

At the World Congress in 2012, PSI affiliates adopted Resolution No. 7 on Universal Access to Healthcare and Resolution No. 29 to Ensure the Common Good with Public Services and A Social Protection Floor.

To work towards the implementation of these two Resolutions, PSI joined forces with the Global Coalition for Social Protection Floors, which has a membership of over 90 trade unions, trade union federations and other civil society organizations striving for the implementation of Social Protection Floors in all countries.  

The Coalition seeks to ensure that Social Protection Floors make up the core social objective of the post-2015 global development agenda, and that the right to social security enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (article 22) is realized by all by 2030.

Today, about 80 per cent of the global population does not have access to social protection and lives in social insecurity, facing complete loss of income security when a personal or national economic crisis strikes.  The situation was seriously worsened by the financial and economic crises of 2007-2008.

The concept of Social Protection Floors emerged from a joint Global Social Protection Floor Initiative of the UN System in 2009 to respond to the obvious damage caused by the financial and economic crises.  

The idea was sharpened in the ILO’s Social Protection Floors Recommendation No. 202 that was adopted in 2012.  The Recommendation provides that national floors of social protection should comprise basic social security guarantees of two types:

  • Universal access to essential health care, and
  • Basic income security to protect standards of living when people are sick, unemployed, disabled and old, or cannot work when having to care for infants or sick family members.

Why are Social Protection Floors important to PSI affiliates?

  • Governments have the primary responsibility for social protection, so implementation of Social Protection floors creates a powerful platform and powerful opportunities to combat privatization
  • The earlier that PSI affiliates fight for Social Protection Floors, the larger the space that they can occupy, and the more they can elbow out the private sector
  • Governments will be monitored at international level, and PSI affiliates can strengthen their hand in watching that their governments implement Social Protection Floors
  • PSI has the same values as those behind the Social Protection Floors – values of social justice and democratic principles, human rights, solidarity and the common good

Social Protection Floors are affordable

  • The World Bank calculated that 70 per cent of countries would be economically more efficient after implementing Social Protection Floors – so they would more than pay for themselves - and the other 30 per cent of countries can benefit from international aid to implement Social Protection Floors, which would help their economies
  • Affordability is demonstrated by existing Social Protection programmes:  In Brazil, the Bolsa Familia that transfers income to families as long as they keep their children in school has cost only 0.4 per cent of GDP, but the programme has shown a return of 1.8 reales for each 1.0 real spent on it!

There are key stakes for PSI affiliates globally

  • As Social Protection Floors are implemented in country after country, both health care and income security will be delivered by PSI’s global workforce in health, social services, administrative and municipal services, education support services, and utilities and energy
  • Social Protection Floors give an extraordinary opportunity to fight for, defend the interests of and expand public sector jobs and re-define the image of public services
  • Only public services can ensure true universality of Social Protection Floors
  • Public sector workers will not only benefit through jobs, but directly through the services provided by Social Protection Floors.  So will their families and communities



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