Second G20 Employment Working Group meeting – Main L20 Take-Aways

On April 28 and 29, delegates from G20 member governments, G20 guest countries, the ILO, OECD, World Bank, IMF and the L20 and B20 took part in the Second G20 Employment Working Group (EWG) Meeting, held in Shanghai. Other “Consultation Groups”, the W20, T20 and Y20 also attended.

This is a critical time to bring employment numbers and quality back on track: while unemployment numbers still exceed pre-crisis levels and growth remains sluggish, labour markets are incrementally transformed by digitalization dynamics and industrial transformation. During the meeting, L20 key issues such as income distribution, social protection and working conditions were on the agenda. The meeting served to prepare the G20 Labour and Employment Ministerial Meeting in July, followed by the L20 Summit.

Over the course of the meeting, L20 delegates stressed the importance to develop a G20 Action Plan on Employment and Social Protection, with a specific focus on the transition to a low-carbon economy, the digital and industrial transformation. They underlined to be mindful of the international reach of these challenges, and the necessity for global standards and for an adequate and coherent G20 leadership.

The L20 emphasized the need to scale up Quality Apprenticeships. Reminding EWG members that unions’ involvement has proven to be vital for providing apprentices with better skills and higher chances to be employed. The following key actions were highlighted:

  • rethinking policies with attention to the macro-economic context, ensuring effective transition measures for youth into apprenticeships through specific labour market measures and demand-side policies;
  • focused efforts to achieve the G20 Youth and Women’s targets;
  • measures to address decreasing apprenticeship numbers (for example through youth guarantees);
  • ensuring that apprenticeships lead to quality jobs, underpinned by labour rights;
  • ensuring industry relevance by involving unions in the design and implementation of training programs;
  • supporting unions’ oversight on working conditions, and defending labour rights.

L20 delegates also called for the promotion of collective bargaining practices, pointing out the benefits they bring to minimum wage setting, workplace organization, vocational training, and the formalisation of informal employment, productivity levels and parental leave. Collective bargaining is a key instrument for developing new skills, spurring innovation and enabling fair and safe working conditions. In doing so, it represents a key tool for the implementation of G20 goals.

Immediate action on global supply chains was highlighted as another key area: L20 delegates presented research findings conducted by the ITUC on global supply chains, showing that the 50 biggest companies employ only 6% of workers in a direct employment relationship, while relying on a hidden workforce made up of 94% of their workers. To change such a model based on exploitative low wages and unjust outsourcing of employment responsibility, five key pillars were presented that need to be ensured through decisive policy action:

  • transparency in supply chains
  • safe work
  • secure work
  • minimum living wages
  • collective bargaining for a fair labour share and decent wages and working conditions.

Lastly, the L20 welcomed Government commitments made to the Paris Climate Agreement last week and especially that of the Chinese Government to ratify the agreement ahead of the G20 Summit in September. L20 delegates demanded for the Just Transition principles to be integrated into the G20 growth strategies and national employment plans and to be followed up as part of the mandate of the Employment Working Group.

Progress on all of these issues, however, cannot be accomplished without G20 leadership. The commitment to decent work and social protection is paramount to enable just and inclusive societies: this Working Group, as the L20 delegate underscored, has tools to recommend on extending and expanding social protection coverage to vulnerable workers and communities, to effectively address poverty, inequality and social exclusion as well as supporting aggregate economic demand, relevant to the overall economic and job situation we face now.