Social partners ready to expand G20 cooperation

Representatives from Business 20 and Labour 20 spoke at the International Media Centre after their meeting with G20 Leaders.

Alexander Shokhin, President of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs (RSPP) and Chair of the Business 20 during the Russian Presidency, said it was a good thing that these trilateral discussions are becoming regular and that they discuss items on the G20 agenda at these meetings. "We are close to building a stable institutional, a formalized format for interaction, which is evidenced by Australia’s plan to continue this dialogue at the next Summit in Brisbane," he said summarizing the preceding discussion.

Mikhail Shmakov, Chair of the Labour 20 in 2013, Chair of the Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Russia (FNPR), confirmed the L20’s willingness to cooperate with government and international institutions in drawing up an action plan to fight unemployment and prevent dangerous trends; to monitor the G20 member’s fulfillment of their earlier commitments; and to take an active part in the Sherpa Meetings and G20 Employment Working Groups.

Sharan Burrow, General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation, and Brent Wilton, Secretary-General of the International Organization of Employers, also spoke to the media in the wake of the meeting. In their presentations, they said it was important to reduce the level of informal employment and income inequality, as well as to improve the quality of professional training and coordinate employment-related policies.

"What we need is high quality, decent jobs, and not just a great number of any jobs at any cost," said John Evans, General Secretary of the OECD Trade Union Advisory Committee.

Alexei Mordashov, Chair of the Trade as a Growth Driver Task Force of the Business 20, presented the results of the group’s work. The business community’s recommendations include the need to expand free trade and fight protectionist policies, to promote global growth, and they concern the trade facilitation agreement, now in the pipeline, which is to be discussed by the WTO and signed at the Ninth WTO Ministerial Conference in Bali in December. The Business 20 also thinks it advisable to issue a mandate to the WTO to summarize the experience of preferential trade agreements.

Hans-Paul Bürkner, President of the Boston Consulting Group, presented the highlights of the Business 20 Task Force on Investments and Infrastructure.

Alcoa Chair and CEO Klaus Kleinfeld spoke of the main proposals drafted by the Business 20 Financial System - Restoring Confidence and Growth Task Force.

Other speakers also expounded on their respective task force recommendations, including Viktor Vekselberg, Chair of Innovation and Development as a Global Priority Task Force and Andrei Bugrov, Chair of the Task Force on Transparency and Anti-corruption.

"Today’s discussion involving the G20 Leaders, businesses and trade unions has shown that we have reached consensus in the understanding of the challenges we face," concluded Robert Milliner, Deputy Chair of Business 20 in 2014.

He also spoke of the need to ensure the continuance of the agenda adopted by the Business 20 and Labour 20 as part of the Russian Presidency of G20, and to keep up the positive dialogue between social partners and governments.

The speakers noted a few ways in which the Russian Presidency of G20 has differed from that of other countries. As Shokhin noted, the Business 20 members have analyzed the recommendations from all the previous G20 summits and assessed the rate of fulfillment of the commitments that countries had taken on. "We have calculated the share of commitments that were actually fulfilled, and it was a little over 60%," Shokhin said. "But we must also bear in mind that not all of them were strict or binding, and not all of them could be subsequently converted into action plans."

As a result, the Business 20 and Labour 20 groups pointed out the need to work out a mechanism for monitoring and assessing the rate of fulfillment of the G20 recommendations and a mechanism for adjusting them as necessary.

According to Shmakov, the Labour 20 representatives fully support the initiative to develop an oversight procedure for the implementation of previous decisions, and this he considers to be a major achievement in the G20’s interaction with its social partners.