Trade unions need to put development cooperation high on their agenda

At the TUDCN General Meeting, concluded last week in Helsingor, Denmark, many voices called for putting development cooperation in the focus of not only governments and international institutions, but of the trade unions as well. In the face of the multiple global crises and development budget cuts by some of the key donors, international solidarity and development cooperation have never been more important.

The meeting brought together over 50 representatives of trade unions, regional ITUC bodies, solidarity support organisations and Global Union Federations from all around world. Participants discussed the current trends and changes in the European and international development policies, including the post-Busan process on aid and development effectiveness, UN Development Cooperation Forum and the new OECD Development Strategy.

During the roundtable on social partners as actors in development, representatives of DANIDA (Danish development cooperation agency), Confederation of Danish Industry and LO Denmark (Danish Confederation of Trade Unions) presented the Danish experience and successes of close collaboration between the social partners in development cooperation. At the second roundtable representatives of DEVCO (European Commission), ILO and TUAC (Trade Union Advisory Committee to OECD) discussed the role of social partners in promoting sustainable and inclusive growth and development, as well as practical ways for supporting social dialogue in partner countries.

After the roundtables, participants split into working groups to further discuss the issue of private sector’s role in development. They agreed that private sector should adhere to the relevant ILO resolutions and other international standards, including the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises and the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights – in all forms of cooperation, be it the traditional trade and development cooperation or South-South. Strong social dialogue structures – concluded the rapporteurs - are the best mechanism of monitoring and accountability, as well as a key element of sustainability for private sectors’ contribution to development. The discussions will feed into ITUC’s position on the issue.

An important part of the meeting was also dedicated to the operational aspects and future of TUDCN – the busy second semester of 2012 as well as beyond. The next TUDCN General Meeting will take place in November this year.

A detailed report of the meeting will soon be available on the TUDCN website.