Unions to Davos: Jobs the Missing Link

The global financial crisis now
threatens to become a social timebomb if the world’s governments don’t
act together to save and create jobs, according to global trade union
leaders attenting the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos.

Employment and incomes key to pulling world economy out of tailspin, as
ILO predicts up to 50 million jobs to go and 200 million more into
absolute poverty, as new IMF figures herald global recession.

Davos, 29 January 2009: The global financial crisis now
threatens to become a social timebomb if the world’s governments don’t
act together to save and create jobs, according to global trade union
leaders attenting the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos.

unions are delivering a tough message to business at the forum, as
millions more face unemployment, home repossessions and lost savings and
pensions. This follows the disastrous effects of years of deregulation
and corporate greed on the global economy. Urgent coordinated action is
now needed to get economies onto a pathway to recovery, with the G20
countries at the forefront.

"We warned business and politicians at Davos last year of dangerous
instability in the global economy, but most were more than happy to
continue to reap the short-term benefits of the failing model of
deregulation and speculation. Business and governments created this
crisis on their own, but they won’t be able to solve it unless they work
with unions to stop the global jobs haemorrhage
, kick-start the world
economy and put a proper regulatory framework in place," said ITUC
General Secretary Guy Ryder. "Even now, some businesses are still
pushing governments to leave them free from regulation and hold down any
chance of consumer-led recovery by stopping workers from joining unions
and bargaining for better incomes," he added.

The ITUC, with its national affiliates and Global Unions partners, is
pushing a comprehensive recovery and reform package, with top priority
on sustainable employment, in discussions with the global institutions
and national governments. Ensuring workers’ rights to union
representation and collective bargaining, coupled with investment
inlabour market programmes, have to be the core of recovery efforts to
enable consumer spending to steer economies onto the path to growth. In
their statement to the Davos meeting
, the unions call for a series of
measures to arrest collapsing global demand through:

* Further coordination of interest rate policy (with more cuts
required in European countries)
* Coordinated fiscal stimulus to maintain and create jobs
* Investment in infrastructure to stimulate demand and prepare for
* A "Green New Deal" for climate-friendly investment and jobs
* Actions to keep workforces employed and retrained during the
* Strengthening of unemployment benefit and other social security
* Spending on schools, hospitals and care for the aged and young
* Tax and spending measures targeted at those on low-incomes
* Emergency IMF loans to developing countries, without austerity
* A boost to development aid to help meet the MDGs
* Action on the global food crisis.

"We have witnessed three decades of stagnating or falling real incomes
for the vast majority, while huge and undeserved pay and bonuses are
still being gouged out of companies by those at the very top of the
corporate tree, even when they have utterly failed to deliver," said

Beyond the immediate need for action on these points, the global union
movement is putting forward a detailed framework for new regulations to
put an end to the rampant speculation and financial profiteering which
has caused the global crisis. The framework includes regulatory
actions which need to be taken by national governments, as well as new
global measures to support regulation and ensure coherence.

"Governments need to act together, both on stimulating demand and on the
new regulatory agenda. Success, both in the immediate future and in the
long term, can only be achieved if governments put workers’ rights to
organise and bargain collectively at the heart of their response to the
crisis. Unions need to have a seat at the table, to make sure that the
interests of working people are at the forefront, instead of the
unbalanced and ultimately destructive past practice of governments
letting finance and business interests set the agenda," said Ryder.

The union statement also calls on business to negotiate with unions to
save jobs, upgrade skills, cut carbon emissions and re-tool industry to
set the basis for recovery. This needs to be done through national
social dialogue and collective bargaining, and internationally through
agreements between multinationals and Global Union Federations in the
different sectors.

The ITUC represents 168 million workers in 316 affiliated national organisations from 157 countries.


For further information, please contact the ITUC Press Department on: +32 2 224 0204 or +32 476 621 018.