Victor Baez, General Secretary of TUCA and Wellington Chibebe, Deputy General Secretary of the ITUC, welcomed participants in Sao Paulo, a location which reflects the network’s objective to integrate Southern organisations views and perspectives in development debates.
Daniel Olesker, Minister of Social Development of Uruguay, stressed how development is not just about economic growth but also wealth redistribution.
He showed how Uruguay’s development model reveals that certain economic myths are wrong.
You may hear that you need growth first before you can redistribute wealth but Uruguay has done both at the same time. And it is said that one must choose between creating jobs and raising salaries. Again, Uruguay did both.
Luiz Dulci, Director of the Lula Foundation, noted how development is not only about redistribution of wealth but also power.
In Brazil, during the dictatorship years, growth only went in the pockets of the wealthy and did not reduce poverty.
According to him, it is partly thanks to democratic participation, inclduing from trade unions, that Brazil managed to create jobs during the 2008 global economic crisis.
Victor Baez, Secretary General of TUCA, exposed the creation of PLADA, a Latin American trade union network created to question the hegemonic neoliberal model of development.
The network understands sustainable development as a political project as well as economic, social and environmental. Its objectives include, among others, decent work, wealth redistribution, participative democracy, gender equality, etc.
Kwasi Adu-Amankwah, Secretary General of ITUC Africa, defined development as benefits for all workers as well as for society in general.
He deplored the underdevelopment of Africa and noted the desastrous and ongoing consequences of the IMF and World Bank programs in Africa.
He recalled how it is still difficult to form trade unions in certain African nations, such as Swaziland.
"Africa needs stronger trade unions" was his conclusion.
The meeting will last until 20th March. To be continued...