G20 Labour Ministers step back from globally co-ordinated action plan to respond to Covid-19 social and economic crisis

photo: G20 Saudi Arabia

The ITUC and TUAC (Trade Union Advisory Committee to the OECD) warned that political statements are not enough to respond to the Covid-19 global health, social and economic crisis. With up to 195 million jobs at risk, the G20 Labour and Employment Ministers held a special meeting to address the Covid-19 pandemic but fell short of real action.

“Tragically the G20 Ministers committed to words but not to the much needed globally coordinated action plan set out by unions. The Covid-19 crisis could prove to be the worst economic and social crisis in modern history, it requires an immediate plan for global funding for social protection, occupational health and safety measures and immediate income security for those facing destitution,” said Sharan Burrow, General Secretary, International Trade Union Confederation.

Up to 250 million people face starvation and the collapse of non-essential supply chains in the poorest countries in the world where there is no or inadequate social protection systems wish push millions more people back into poverty.

In the virtual meeting, G20 Ministers, the ILO and the OECD called for “action” to stimulate the economy to “boost employment creation and retention”. However, the Ministerial Statement on Covid-19 fails to deliver the much needed G20 global roadmap replicate the national measures in poorest countries to enable them to face the crisis, one that would unite G20 Employment, Health and Finance Ministers though coordinated action.

“The initial dynamic of the G20 process was precisely to think beyond national borders, to act collectively and to acknowledge that necessary steps to support workers and working families need strong international coordination. Today that dynamic was missing. This is a time for social dialogue to be strengthened to resolve global problems” said Pierre Habbard, General Secretary, TUAC.

Trade unions called for G20 Labour and Employment Ministers to:

  1. G20 support and leadership on global funding for social protection. This is urgent to add to health funding to ensure income and food distribution for millions of the world’s people to avoid starvation. We know that many of you understand this and it will take your leadership to make it happen. Around $35 billion would secure 5-year funding for the poorest 28 countries in the world to secure emergency relief now and build resilience over time to enable capacity to weather the next crisis. And every dollar beyond that part-funding for lower to middle income countries in dire need. $100 billion is affordable in the context of the $10 trillion or possibly more that will be spent on emergency measures.
  2. Global cooperation and coherence on support to non-essential global supply chains for business continuity, wages and income support for workers.
  3. Urgent action for the maritime sector for the coordination of repatriation and deployment seafarers.
  4. Support for migrant workers and non-discriminatory extension of safety guarantees and income support that are provided to citizens.
  5. Respect for Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work including occupational health and safety.

“Both business and unions called for dialogue with unions and business in designing a plan for recovery and resilience along with a need for a global employment plan. This must also include resourcing properly our vital public services including health, education and others aspect of care with jobs, income and social protection”, said Sharan Burrow.

G20 Labour and Employment Ministers pledged to meet again as necessary – the importance of global action for the lives and livelihoods of working people requires them to stand by this promise.