World Economic Forum: 27 January – 1 February 1999
World Trade Union Leaders urge a fresh start for Globalisation
and call for social alliance
"Davos is the time for government and business leaders to recognise
the need for a fresh start that would give globalisation the social dimension
which it lacks. We are calling for an alliance involving the social partners
to make the trading system sustainable, to tackle the concerns of developing
countries and to protect workers everywhere during globalisation," said
the world labour leaders attending the World Economic Forum.
"The failure of the WTO Ministerial Meeting last December, and the
way it demonstrated the fragility of globalisation, has shown that people
are no longer prepared to accept that world trade can operate free of ethical
considerations", say the labour leaders. "If world trade is to regain popular
confidence, it must have a more human face, and the power of working people
can build policies to make that happen".
A team of nine international labour leaders will be presenting their
call for world leaders to globalise social justice. "People are waking
up to the wrongs which have been done in the name of globalisation. We
are asking those present to commit themselves to work towards universal
Six wrongs to be righted:
Trade union rights violations are worsening: 123 trade unionists were
murdered in 1998, 1650 individuals were attacked or injured, 3660 were
arrested, and a massive 21,427 were sacked for trade union activities.
Social inequality is on the increase worldwide. Throughout the world
the rich/poor gap is turning into a chasm both within and between countries.
Of the 45 countries classified by the United Nations as the least developed
nations, 33 are in Africa.
Two thirds of illiterate adults are women, who bear the brunt of the
world’s economic and social crisis.
Over US$1.5 trillion is exchanged every day in currency markets around
the world; approximately 95% of which is speculative, and which fails to
benefit the world’s poorest countries.
The real beneficiaries of the globalisation are the transnational corporations.
Of the top 100 economies, 51 are these corporations. The combined sales
of the world’s top 200 companies surpass the combined economies of 182
Over 250 million children are child labourers, who should be at school,
being educated as their country’s future.
The labour leaders’ programme for 2000
The labour leaders have a six-point programme, which if carried out,
could make substantial moves to right these wrongs.
There must be full respect of fundamental labour standards in all countries
if trade is to create better conditions for the world’s working people.
There must be a social strategy for the new global economy, with a
strong emphasis on social protection systems within individual countries.
There should be a greatly increased financial commitment by industrialised
countries to development programmes in which gender issues are of principal
Aid should be targeted at social programmes, and there should be a
determined campaign to wipe out poverty, reduce developing country debt
and support democratic institutions.
Employment must be given a central role in the preparation of economic
and social policy.
There is a need to develop good global industrial relations, which
would include social partnership on general issues as well as addressing
concerns from both sides of industry to resolve problems which arise inside
global firms and sectors.
This year’s labour leader’s group consists of:
Dieter Schulte, President, Deutscher Gewerkschaftsbund, (DBG)
John Sweeney, President, American Federation of Labour and Congress
of Industrial Organisations (AFL-CIO), United States,
John Monks, General Secretary, Trade Union Congress, United
Bill Jordan, General Secretary, International Confederation
of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU),
Philip Jennings, General Secretary, Union Network International
Kenneth Georgetti, President, Canadian Labour Congress, Canada;
Emilio Gabaglio, General Secretary, European Trade Union Confederation
John Evans, General Secretary, Trade Union Advisory Committee,
Ursula Engelen-Kefer, Deputy Chair, Management Board, Deutscher
Gewerkschaftsbund, (DBG) Germany.
Sessions with the Labour Leaders at the Forum
Labour unions: strategies for the 21st century.
Saturday, January 29, 17.00 – 18.15.
Labour leaders will discuss how unions can remain relevant in the new
economy, with greater job flexibility, and whether they will be able to
remain the interlocutor between management and the workforce.
Labour Leaders Press Conference
Monday, January 31, 9.50
Labour leaders will present the major issues for labour which arise
out of the Forum debates.
Unions and Globalisation
Monday, January 31 13.15 – 14.15
All the labour leaders will attend this session and will address the
issue of unions taking a global role in the global economy.
Plenary Session: Can we take open markets for granted?
Friday, January 28, 10.30 – 11.40
John Sweeney will participate in this session with Michael Moore, Director-General
WTO, Ernesto Zedillo Ponce de Leon, President of Mexico and Percy Barnevik,
Chairman, Investor AB, Sweden.
Future trade wars: defining trade policies to meet social and
Friday, January 28, 13.15 - 14.45
Bill Jordan will attend this session, with political and industry
leaders. They will discuss whether it is possible to trust trade experts
to find the right policy for issues such as genetically modified foods,
and how these issues should be deal with in future deliberations. Moderator:
Martin Wolf, of the Financial Times.