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G20 leaders can no longer ignore inequality

7 July, 2017As police clashed with protestors ahead of the G20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany, which begins today, the discontent felt by many with the current model of globalization is all too clear. 

“The huge amount of security surrounding this year’s G20 meeting shows that governments are failing and people are angry,” said IndustriALL Global Union General Secretary, Valter Sanches.  “The disparities of wealth and opportunity have continued to grow on the back of an economic model that is broken. The G20 leaders can no longer ignore the calls for a more equal society,”

Speaking at the alternative global solidarity summit in Hamburg, held on 5 and 6 July, Sanches said it was not acceptable that eight white men own the same amount of wealth as half the world’s population. He also cited G20 countries such as Turkey, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Argentina and the USA where attempts to organize workers in trade unions face massive opposition. 

IndustriALL actively works to influence the G20 agenda. In May this year, IndustriALL joined other global unions at the Labour 20 Summit 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 said:

“Neither ‘trickle- down’ strategies nor fiscal austerity policies are working. While the 1% or 10% of top income earners capture a more than proportionate share of the gains of globalization and technological progress at the expense of the bottom 90%, monetary policy is either ineffective in re-launching the economy or, alternatively, is running the risk of creating debt financed by asset price booms that are ultimately followed by a crash.”

ACT, IndustriALL’s initiative with global brands to achieve living wages in garment supply chains, was presented as a model at this year’s G20 Labour and Employment Ministers meeting, also held in Germany in May. This resulted in ACT being included in paragraph 26 of the Ministerial Declaration from the meeting Towards an Inclusive Future: Shaping the World of Work.  

“We put our demands to the G20 nations and we want them to respect ILO conventions and OECD guidelines not just in their own countries but also in the countries where global supply chains are based. This is an area where there is a governance gap and where workers are particularly exploited in producing products for richer nations,” said Sanches.

While there are many good intentions as a result of the G20 Summit, it rarely results in change.  The Brisbane G20 target of adding an additional 2 per cent of GDP by 2018 appears to be beyond reach.

“IndustriALL will continue to influence the global agenda to help our affiliates in the bargaining process. We recently established a working group on trade and development and will hold a conference on Industry 4.0 and sustainable industrial policy later this year,” said Sanches.