International Journal of Labour Research

The world of work and the new social contract

The social contract of the 1940s and 1950s followed the principle that citizens contributed to the common good – whether economically, socially or culturally – on the assumption that the state would ensure a minimum standard of living, provision of essential social services and infrastructure and the protection of their basic rights. Now, however, the global socio- economic context is characterized by a persistent and pervasive joblessness, insecure employment and working poverty, growing income inequalities and inadequate social protection coverage. This paper calls for a new social contract which reduces social inequality, promotes living wages and adequate working conditions and occupational safety and health. It calls upon governments to establish universal social protection systems that are resilient, effective, inclusive, adequate and sustainable over the long term.