As the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and G20 finance ministers meet this weekend to discuss the state of the global economy and priorities for development cooperation, the international trade union movement is calling on the international financial institutions (IFIs) to change course in their policy directions and to pay as much attention to employment deficits as they do to fiscal deficits by taking coordinated action to support job creation as well as education and skills training.
Parallel to these meetings, ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow took part in a debate in Washington with IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn on Wednesday to voice trade union views about the IFIs’ responsibility to adopt economic recovery programmes consistent with a more equitable and sustainable growth and development model. Emphasizing the failure of G20 countries to reduce the number of unemployed, which is currently at the highest level ever recorded, Burrow said: “The G20 in 2011 must mark the defining moment that things start to change, or otherwise the world will see just another failure in global governance.” She challenged the G20 and all IMF member countries to incorporate employment targets into national economic programmes and to work in establishing a global social protection floor, for which she invited the IMF and the ILO to jointly develop sustainable financing mechanisms. Burrow further urged the IMF to recognize “the growing political momentum in favour of financial transactions taxes” and to support the FTT so that the financial sector makes a contribution to public revenue “to match the costs it imposes each time it triggers a crisis in the real, productive economy.” (>>> Burrow’s speech)
At the debate, Strauss-Kahn noted the record levels of unemployment and inequality and stated: “Just as we managed to tame inflation in the 1980s, this decade should be the one that takes full employment seriously once again.” To combat growing inequality, Strauss-Kahn emphasized the importance of “strong social safety nets combined with progressive taxation … investment in health and education, and collective bargaining rights … especially in an environment of stagnating real wages.” He spoke of the joint work that the IMF has undertaken with the ILO in the past year and said that “employment and equity are the building blocks of stability and prosperity,” which go “to the heart of the IMF’s mandate.” (>>> Strauss-Kahn’s speech)