68% of L20 unions say that G20 commitments are not having the desired impact on growth and jobs

The key findings of the L20 Policy Tracking 2015, released at the L20 Summit ahead of the G20 Leaders’ meeting, show mixed results in terms of the state of implementation and impact of G20 policies at the national level.

The tracking survey was completed in the period of September/ October 2015 by 22 union centres in 16 G20 countries. With the 2014 G20 Brisbane Action Plan and Leaders’ Communiqué resulting in over 800 global and national policy commitments embedded in growth and employment plans – with the goal to reach the 2.1% growth target by 2018 – it becomes even more important to assess whether the policy paths taken will result in sustainable and inclusive growth or, on the contrary, are either ineffective or have negative effects on jobs and workers’ well-being.

All of the main findings can be downloaded here.

Amongst the key results that covered 76 “growth” and 99 “employment” policies, 9 general G20 commitments, 3 Action Plans (namely 25by25, Base Erosion and Profit Shifting [BEPS] and Safer Workplaces) as well as future priorities, the following stood out:

  • 68% said that G20 global commitments are not having a desired impact on the national level through concrete policy changes.
  • Only 18% think their country will completely or very likely achieve the goal of an additional 2.1% growth by 2018.
  • 74% of the respondents said that further commitments need to be made to achieve the 2.1% growth target and improve living conditions for workers.
  • Depending on country circumstances – further commitments might include: Fiscal and industrial policies to increase investments (also in public infrastructure and R&D), policies boosting demand and creating jobs, longer-term investment planning, corporate governance reforms, fairer taxation, employer investments in training and skill development, increasing minimum wages and social security.
  • 41% expect the economic situation to worsen a little, 32% believe that it will remain the same. If that was the case G20 economies will not meet their growth target as at this point they would need to grow by double the initial target by an extra 1 percent per year.
  • Specific G20 Action Plans fare much better in comparison: on average, the three G20 commitments on elevating female labour market participation by 25% by 2025 (25by25), the declaration on Safer Workplaces and the G20/ OECD Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) Action Plan were ranked as “rather achievable” at national level and their impact is viewed as largely positive.

Growth and Employment Strategies:

  • Out of 76 “growth” policy actions, on average, “some progress” on implementation was noted in 9 countries, while the other 6 countries showed “insufficient progress”.
  • In difference to last year’s tracking, 62% of the policies were perceived as having a positive impact on working families, 19% were deemed “neutral”, 15% “negative” and 4% “highly negative”.
  • However, a closer assessment shows multiple cases of policies being rated as highly positive but showing no progress (and vice versa).
  • 52% think that their government has only made a “fair” selection of “employment challenges”, 35% think that they are “poorly” selected, and only 13% agree with the selection being a “good” one.

What should be on the G20 Agenda in 2016

Three policy issues – rising income inequality, high levels of youth un- and underemployment, and the global refugee crisis – need more proactive policies that could be supported at the G20 level. At the same time, the refugee crisis is calling for G20 leadership and an urgent call for action in Antalya and beyond. The key tracking findings reaffirm this:

  • A large majority (above 80%) of respondents considers it hard for refugees to work in their country.
  • When asked whether national minimum wages were enough for a decent life – 87% of respondents said that they are not.
  • 65% describe the employment prospects for young people in their country as bad or somewhat bad.
  • A large majority of respondents would consider a G20 youth target to be very useful (30%) or quite useful (55%) to focus policy makers on the need to investment in reducing youth unemployment.
  • To fight youth unemployment, “Taking action against irregular and informal employment” has been selected as the only “extremely important” measure, followed by “Promoting apprenticeships”, “Facilitating first-time job placement”, “On-the-job training” and “Enabling a variety of educational pathways” (all very important).