G20 Labour Ministers Meeting with Social Partners was held in Moscow

On July 18, 2013 the joint meeting of the G20 Labour Ministers and the social partners entitled "Social dialogue on labour and employment priorities for job creation" was held in Moscow. The representatives of the international business community and labour unions shared with the G20 Labour Ministers their vision of the priorities for employment and labour market development policies.

The discussion was focused on the two major topics, namely, the role of trade unions and entrepreneurs in promoting economic growth, and creating quality jobs, including in small and medium enterprises. Within the above larger topics different viewpoints were presented on such issues, as reform strategies for growth and jobs, creating enabling environment for enterprises and entrepreneurship, improving employment versus fiscal consolidation. The delegates considered possible further steps aimed at increasing employability, reducing inequality and tackling informal employment, addressing demographic challenges, as well as enabling efficient labour activation policies, enhancing social protection and ensuring the implementation of the G20 commitments.

Opening the meeting the Minister of Labour and Social Protection of the Russian Federation Maxim Topilin gave high evaluation of the participation of the social partners in the G20 process and their contribution to solving the issues of labour and employment. "These consultations are very useful and allow us to see a different perspective on the issues that we address," he said, "the social partners’ ideas and recommendations based on their expertise facilitate the G20 decision-making process with respect to such key issues as employment, labour relations development and social protection."

Maxim Topilin also got the delegates acquainted with the welcoming address by the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin.

Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation Olga Golodets emphasized the significance of the event and noted its high level of representativeness. "Nowadays the world is becoming aware of the fact that economic and financial development is impossible in the absence of due attention to human capital, and without qualitative analysis of the problems of its development. The Labour Ministers’ Meeting is a result of the work done by each country in this sphere, and I hope that the documents that the Ministers eventually agree on, will bring us to the next phase of the development of labour relations jointly with the financial markets development," she stressed.

Olga Golodets noted that the vulnerable groups are those confronting the toughest challenges in terms of employment. Much attention is given to the problems of youth employment, employment of women with children and people with disabilities. Another topic of vital importance for all labour markets at the moment is the new quality of labour force supply. Requirements to qualifications are changing at a very high pace, and national systems of apprenticeship should keep up with of the demand at the developing market. Finally, wage setting regulation is crucial. The Deputy Prime-Minister noted the problem of speculative overstatement of salaries in some sectors and its artificial understatement in the other. This issue is also one of the priorities, since the market of investment is very sensitive to salaries level.

Chair of the Business 20, President of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs (RSPP) Alexander Shokhin said that the B20 had prepared comprehensive recommendations on the most pressing issues of the international economic development, to be shared with the G20 governments and business community. "Creating enabling business environment should be accompanied by necessary changes of labour regulation standards, including new efficient forms of employment, as well as expanded opportunities in defining the type of the labour contract," Mr. Shokhin pointed out.

Business community is convinced that small business has a significant role to play in the economic development and job creation. Therefore, the governments should provide enabling environment for start-ups, including through launching of consultative service and ensuring availability of financing, as well as entrepreneurship skills training for youth.

New high-tech jobs will not be created if there are no employees to work there. The Business 20 considers it necessary to provide broader access for people to high quality education systems.

Finally, the employers supported the implementation of the activation policy oriented on the vulnerable groups that is pursued by Russia during its G20 Presidency.

Chief of the Labour 20, Chair of the Federation of Independent Trade Unions (FNPR) of Russia Mikhail Shmakov reminded that this Labour Ministers’ Meeting with Social Partners was already the fourth episode of working in this format, which has obviously found its niche in the framework of the major forum of worlds’ leading economies.

The Labour 20 priorities are described in the Statement, having been finalized at the L20 Summit recently held in Moscow. These priorities include creating new jobs, restoring growth and trust, strengthening active labour market programs and actions for youth, ensuring inclusive growth and reducing inequality, creating decent jobs in SMEs, delivering on past commitments and preserving hope for the future. "Many of these priorities coincide with the priorities of the Business 20," Mikhail Shmakov noted.

The head of the FNPR specifically touched upon a number of recommendations, which trade unions are willing to hand over to the G20 Finance Ministers and heads of governments via the Labour Ministers. The L20 call on the G20 countries to support aggregate demand and employment in view of a serious slowdown of economic growth; to put an immediate halt to austerity measures and corresponding cuts in public spending in the areas that provide social support and facilitate productive economic activity; to invest in infrastructure, education and quality public services including in the care economy.

Likewise, the Labour 20 consider it relevant to ensure that revenues are not leaking through tax havens; to maintain and increase the level of spending on active labour market programs; to cooperate with the social partners to upscale apprenticeships and training programs and put in place a Jobs Guarantee for young people; and to reverse the rise in income inequality by strengthening collective bargaining and set robust minimum wages to avoid further incomes decrease.

Additionally, trade unions are calling for improving the provision of affordable finance to SMEs and facilitating their insertion into the global value chains, while ensuring that they can provide decent work to their employees. And, finally, the Labour 20 supports the implementation of the commitment to adopt the global social protection floor and the ratification of the ILO Conventions on social security; establishing the employment targets or indicators to be used in the G20 Mutual Assessment Process, and empowering the G20 Employment Task Force with a permanent mandate to carry out regular monitoring of the implementation of the past agreements.