Trade unions have greater access than ever before to the institutions of global governance. We are using it to vigorously advocate a union agenda for change.
Labour’s demands focus on five key areas:
- Jobs - a jobs-led recovery is urgently needed to drive the global economy out of crisis and generate demand.
- Decent work - rising inequality must be combated through the expansion of collective bargaining, introducing a Social Protection Floor in every country, raising minimum wages and putting an end to precarious work.
- Financial regulation - not enough has been done to regulate the financial sector in the wake of the devastation of the crisis it caused.
- Fair and progressive taxation – multinational companies must be forced to pay their fair share of tax, tax havens must be eradicated, and an international Financial Transactions Tax must be introduced.
- Climate action - the political will must be found to prevent catastrophe. Emissions must reduce and a Just Transition for workers and communities must be realised. There are no jobs on a dead planet.
Unions are recognised as key social actors at the G20 through the L20 labour summit, comprising union leaders from the G20 countries and the global unions. Trade unions now engage in bilateral meetings with G20 leaders at all G20 meetings encompassing the world’s biggest industrialized and developing countries.
There is evidence of the impact being made by trade unions in the G20 Los Cabos Summit Declaration of June 2012, which included support for ‘creation of decent work and quality jobs’, meaning ‘jobs with labour rights, social security coverage and decent income’.
Since 2002, the international trade union movement has been participating in regular and structured dialogue with the IMF and the World Bank, engaging constructively while critically analysing their policies.
Unions have been particularly critical of the IMF’s one-size-fits-all prescription of labour market deregulation. At the latest consultations with the IMF in February 2013, unions delivered a stinging critique of its policy recommendations for European countries. The IMF has consistently been advising countries to dismantle job security protection as well as national and sectoral collective bargaining, one of the key measures countries should be using to overcome the crisis. The advice has been applied indiscriminately to countries with current account deficits as well as those with surpluses, pointing to an agenda based on ideology rather than evidence.
Another perennial bone of contention is the use of the Employing Workers Indicator in the World Bank’s Doing Business report to justify and encourage further labour market deregulation. In response to pressure from the union movement, the World Bank has withdrawn the indicator, though there is evidence that it still influences Bank policy.
On the plus side, the focus of the Bank’s World Development Report 2013 on jobs should encourage it to put sustainable decent work at the centre of its development strategies. It is also making progress towards finally adopting a safeguard on labour standards for all World Bank projects.
IndustriALL, together with other global unions, will continue to use all avenues of political influence to keep up the pressure on the G20, the IMF and the World Bank. These global institutions need to promote policies that guarantee social justice for all citizens.