G20 leaders risk sleepwalking into a double-dip recession due to their haste to halve fiscal deficits by 2013 or even sooner, according to an international trade union delegation in Toronto at the end of the G20 Summit in June.
“Jobs and better wages are at the heart of economic recovery, and last year G20 leaders seemed to have recognised that,” said newly elected General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) Ms Sharan Burrow. “This year they are sending mixed and ambiguous signals that risk undermining the weak shoots of recovery.”
“The G20 leaders’ communiqué frequently contradicts itself, speaking of cutting deficits by 2013 yet welcoming recommendations from their own labour ministers that say jobs should be a priority,” said General Secretary of the Trade Union Advisory Committee to the OECD Mr John Evans. He went on to state that: “The G20 had set up a Framework for Strong Sustainable and Balanced Growth, yet the decisions they have taken could drive the world in the opposite direction.”
“This is the wrong communiqué at the wrong time – an essentially descriptive text bespeaking unacceptable complacency in the face of a worsening jobs crisis, at a time when unemployment risks surging again as a result of premature deficit reduction measures,” added Ms Burrow. “The ILO must be given the task of writing the recommendations on employment and social protection, central to all economic and social policy, for the G20 Framework.”
On financial regulation, trade unions are angered at continued “best-endeavour” principles in place of action, and at the lack of progress towards a financial transactions tax. Consultation is a further problem. “The Canadian and Korean hosts of this year’s G20 seem to consider it more important to rub shoulders with their “B-20” and “B-100” groups of business leaders, than to include trade unions in the process,” stated Ms Burrow. “They should take care: working people around the world are getting angry at the assumption that they will meekly pay the price for the crisis. On the streets and through the ballot boxes, politicians can expect them to make their feelings known.”
And trade unions are deeply disappointed at the failure of the G8 Leaders meeting in Muskoka, Ontario, Canada, on 25-26 June to establish a clear timetable for increasing aid spending to reach the Millennium Development Goals on poverty, child and maternal health or universal access to treatment for HIV/AIDS. “Every commitment on aid is made ‘subject to budgetary process’, giving G8 governments an alibi for their lack of real political commitment”, said Mr Evans.
Global March shares the concerns of the trade union movement and has already expressed its disappointment that the G8 and G20 Summits failed to live up to expectations in terms of development aid that will inevitably lead to increasing numbers of child labourers in the world and painting a bleak outlook for future generations of vulnerable children. Global March also shares the concern that the G20 Declaration contains no reference to broader consultation with trade unions or civil society organisations, while business is increasing its influence.
TUAC and the ITUC have published a detailed evaluation of the G8 and G20 Summit Declarations which focuses on the conflicting messages from leaders in terms of ensuring job growth on the one hand, while calling for significant public spending cuts which will affect public works schemes, labour market policy and vital social benefits, including education and health. The evaluation is a vital reference for all Global March members and partners in terms of understanding the full import of the G8 and G20 Declarations and informing their national and regional policies, programmes and campaigning activities in the months preceding the next G20 Summit in Seoul, Korea, in November 2010.
For the full text of the TUAC/ITUC Evaluation of the G20 Toronto Summit Declaration and the G8 Muskoka Summit Declaration, please click here.
Source: Trade Union Advisory Committee (TUAC) to the OECD, Paris, France (www.tuac.org)