Monday, 21 September 2009

Trade Unions: Pittsburgh must be a jobs summit

The G20 meeting in Pittsburgh this week must tackle the growing global jobs crisis if real economic recovery is to take place, according to the world’s trade unions. With the global crisis set to cost 59 million jobs by the end of this year, and predictions that unemployment across the OECD countries could reach 10% in 2010 and increase into 2011, the ITUC, TUAC and the Global Union Federations are warning in their Pittsburgh Declaration that the chances of real economic recovery are under severe threat. A 50-strong delegation of top union leaders from every continent will hold a series of meetings with heads of government and global institutions at the Pittsburgh Summit to press the case for stronger and more coordinated action.

Last week’s gloomy predictions in the OECD’s annual Employment Outlook reinforce the union concerns. On top of an estimated 15 million jobs already lost in the richer countries, the OECD has warned that the worst is yet to come for labour markets in several countries. The OECD also confirms that young people, those with fewer skills, immigrants, ethnic minorities and those in temporary or untypical jobs are being worst hit. “The G20 must move on several fronts, quickly and with determination,” said John Evans, general secretary of the TUAC. “Jobs must be the first priority, but action on jobs will be undermined without reforms of the financial system, action for development in particular in the poorest countries, and concrete steps to create green jobs and ensure a just transition to a low-carbon future,” he added.

The unions’ Pittsburgh Declaration sets out detailed and workable plans to tackle bank insolvency, deal with excessive corporate pay and bonuses, reform taxation and ensure effective financial market regulation. A global tax on financial transactions is put forward as means both of reducing unproductive speculation and generating funds for development. Trade unions demand changes to the programmes of the International Financial Institutions, which are imposing job-destroying conditions on developing and transition countries with devastating consequences for health, education and social protection in the future, and insist that the G20 move forward on creating green jobs and ensuring proper protection for workers affected by urgently needed action on climate change.

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