Thursday, 13 November 2008

Trade Unions’ reform plan for the G20

Trade union leaders from the G20 countries will put forward a comprehensive plan to turn around the global economy, in meetings with world leaders in Washington DC on the eve of the financial crisis summit hosted by the US government on 15 November. The top level union delegation will discuss the plan with IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn, World Bank President Robert Zoellick and heads of government from the G20 countries. The world's unions are calling for a series of urgent actions to stave off the prospect of deep and long-lasting global recession, coupled with major changes in the running of the global economy to turn back decades of deregulation policies that have caused the current crisis.

According to the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), a fresh push for development and decent work is needed, as well as a "Green New Deal" to tackle climate change effectively. The detailed union proposals are set out in a recovery and reform programme entitled the Washington Declaration. "Immediate action is needed to get the world economy moving and boost employment. Governments need to be prepared to make further, coordinated, cuts in interest rates and to front-load investment in infrastructure, education and health to help stimulate demand growth and reinforce public services. This needs to be accompanied by tax and spending measures to support the purchasing power of low- and middle-income earners, and concrete steps to launch investment in green goods and services, to help address climate change", said John Evans, General Secretary of the Trade Union Advisory Board to the OECD (TUAC).

The ITUC and TUAC are co-organising the union summit which will be hosted by the US trade union centre AFL-CIO at its Washington DC Headquarters. Along with the immediate steps to stimulate the world economy, the trade unions are putting forward a comprehensive regulatory package to ensure global governance of the global economy with a strong role for the ILO in line with the new ILO Social Justice Declaration. Key elements of the package include: ( 1) Regulation of hedge funds and private equity, (2) Proper supervision of banks and global conglomerates, (3) Reform and control of executive pay and profit distribution, (4) Taxation of international financial transactions, (5) Reform of the credit rating industry, (6) Ending tax havens, (7) Protection against predatory lending, (8) Active policies for housing and for community-based financial Services.

The Washington Declaration also draws attention to the plight of the world's poorest countries, where the impacts of global downturn will hit hardest. It calls on richer countries to ensure that international targets on development aid and the UN Millennium Development Goals are met, and urges action to ensure that basic commodities, especially food, become affordable for the poorest.
The Declaration sets out the global trade union movement's platform for a new governance structure for the world economy. This must not be limited only to financial markets and currency flows. The new structure must overcome the major flaws in the current system, and ensure that emerging economies and developing countries have their rightful place at the centre of policy-making.

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