German Chancellor and G20 President Angela Merkel, addresses the L20 Summit in Berlin on 17 May 2017.

Jyotiben Macwan, of IndustriALL Indian affiliate, the Self Employed Women’s Association

IndustriALL's general secretary, Valter Sanches, right, also spoke at the event.

Labour leaders lay down demands to G20

22.05.2017

Leaders of Global unions and trade unions in countries of the G20 nations gathered in Berlin for the Labour 20 Summit on 16 and 17 May, to demand a more inclusive, sustainable and responsible model of globalization. 

In a statement handed to German Chancellor and G20 President Angela Merkel, the L20 leaders demanded an alternative economic policy model, which includes investment in public infrastructure and services, tax reform, and economic policies in line with the transition to a low carbon economy.

IndustriALL Global Union general secretary, Valter Sanches, said:

“The L20 is a chance for workers to come up with a united voice. We want to achieve fairer international trade that respects workers’ rights. The G20 must take a united stand on inequality and the concentration of wealth. Respect for trade union rights, in particular ILO Conventions 87 and 98 on freedom of association and collective bargaining, is the starting point for better wages, better conditions, and fairer working hours.”

The L20 statement to the G20 labour and employment ministers’ meeting that took place from 18-19 May in Bad Neuenahr, outlined the low growth trap as economic performance stagnates:

“High and rising inequalities are leaving many people behind, fuelling public mistrust and a popular backlash against governments and institutions portrayed as promoting the interests of the ‘elite’. Wealth concentration and brakes on public spending contribute to this mistrust.”

In addressing the L20 leaders at the Berlin meeting, Angela Merkel said that companies must respect workers’ rights and take responsibility for their supply chains, so that tragedies such as the Rana Plaza collapse in Bangladesh can never happen again.

The German Chancellor also recognized the role of global framework agreements and praised the L20’s contribution to fairer growth: “Only together can we work for and shape fair globalization,” she said.

Angela Merkel heard testimony from Jyotiben Macwan, of IndustriALL Indian affiliate, the Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA), who defended the rights of informal workers’ in the global economy.

The L20 meeting is convened by the International Trade Union Confederation and the Trade Union Advisory Committee (TUAC) to the OECD. Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary, said:

“When international labour standards are respected, workers are able to organize and bargain for decent wages and safe work, and with the right macro-economic settings, the inequality and insecurity which characterize today’s failed model of globalization can become a thing of the past.”