OF THE OUTCOME OF THE G8 GENOA SUMMIT
1. The run-up to the Genoa G8 Summit itself was dominated by fears of
violent protest that now typically accompany inter-governmental meetings,
leading to this year’s Summit being held behind a ring of steel and a mass
security presence. Tragically, that became a reality and it will be forever
marked by the scenes of violent destruction and the death of a protestor
shot by police.
2. Ahead of the Summit, trade union leaders from G8 countries, the South
and Russia met on 19 July with Silvio Berlusconi the host of the Summit,
who was accompanied by his Labour and Industry Ministers. At the end of
the meeting he pledged to press his fellow heads of state for a more institutionalised
trade union input at future events. He repeated that comment at a subsequent
press conference, which was picked up by the Wall St Journal and the Financial
Times. The G8 Communiqué, however, was silent on this. The opening
statement made by John Sweeney, President of the AFL-CIO (United States)
and TUAC is attached for information. The Italian trade unions organised
a successful mass public meeting on 18 July, to which Nelson Mandela sent
a powerful message of support for trade unions via a video link. The Genoa
Social Forum, which was co-ordinating the peaceful protest movement held
a mass teach-in, to which a member of the TUAC Secretariat spoke at a workshop
on export credits and sustainable development.
3. A plethora of documents were released at the conclusion of the summit,
including: Communiqués of the G8 and G7 leaders, the Report and
Action Plan of the DOT Force (set up by the Okinawa Summit), a Genoa Plan
for Africa, a G8 Statement on Regional Issues, and one on the Middle East.
These are available at the official G8 website: (http://www.g8italy.it/_en/index.html).
4. When set against the expectations for Genoa, including the statements
of various leaders prior to the Summit, the outcome was deceptively inadequate,
with few breakthroughs of substance to accompany the usual platitudes claiming
progress in key policy areas. The G8 Communiqué focused on development,
debt relief and poverty reduction; the implementation of the Okinawa Dot
Force’s Action Plan; the environment and food safety; employment; and combating
transnational organised crime and drugs.
5. Employment and wider social issues were treated in a cursory manner:
just eight lines of text that committed leaders to “implement policies
in line with the recommendations of the G8 Labour Ministers Conference
held in Torino last year”. The only other reference to social issues in
the nine page Communiqué came in the section entitled “Debt Relief
and Beyond”. It stated: “We will work with the International Labour Organisation
to support efforts to fight child labour and we will develop incentives
to increase school enrolment”. The Turin conclusions were positive but
global social issues merited a more substantial global response.
6. References to the global economic slow down were left to the G7 Communiqué
which repeated the complacent and optimistic comments made by Finance Ministers
at their meeting a week earlier. It went on to say that three further
elements were important to strengthen the global economy: the launch of
a new trade round, action to enhance the stability and integrity of the
international financial system, and the implementation of the Heavily Indebted
Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative. The new trade round language was a step
backwards as regards labour standards, stating through coded language:
“The WTO should continue to respond to the legitimate expectations of civil
society, and ensure that the new Round supports sustainable development”.
Little was announced to add to previous pronouncements on the international
financial market architecture, and the HIPC Initiative.
7. A reflection of the new political make up of the G8 is the total
absence in the Communiqué of any specific reference to trade unions
as a distinct group. Instead while the ‘private sector’ and ‘business’
warrant a specific mention, all other groups are bundled together under
the title of ‘civil society’. Equally disturbing, and reflecting the new
reality is the expunging of language on the global economy, while employment
and social issues are either omitted or treated in a desultory way. The
message needs to be brought home to governments that such a course is unlikely
to build widespread support for elements of their agenda, including progress
on trade and investment liberalisation.
The Labour Summit
8. As part of an inclusive approach to the G8 Labour Summit, trade union
leaders from those countries were joined at the meeting with the host of
the Summit by colleagues from Southern countries, and the ICFTU regional
organisations. The trade union delegation, in submitting its written statement
had five central objectives:
- To obtain from the Summit a message on the urgent need to take co-ordinated
stimulatory measures to get the global economy growing again, so as to
put it back on a full employment path;
- An expanded programme of development assistance, debt write-off, reform
of International Finance Institutions, allied with new health and education
initiatives to boost development prospects. Comprehensive reforms of the
international trading and investment system were sought to make it work
for working families, based on respect for labour and wider human rights,
including export credit support being made conditional on binding measures
to attain sustainable development;
- To ensure a socially balanced approach to the introduction and development
of information technology, with a clear role for trade unions on this within
the Dot Force Action Plan;
- A new consensus on climate change action through mitigating measures
on employment and social effects;
- And, to widen public participation in the debate on reform of the
financial market architecture.
9. Luigi Angeletti, General Secretary of the UIL (Italy) introduced
the trade union participants, and pressed the need for the 2002 Canadian
Summit to have a more institutionalised trade union input. John Sweeney
then introduced the trade union statement. Bill Jordan, General Secretary
of the ICFTU who spoke on the forthcoming Doha meeting of WTO Trade Ministers,
followed him. Zwelinzima Vavi, COSATU General Secretary (South Africa)
linked the scourge of HIV-Aids across much of the developing world to poverty
and under-development, and called for a comprehensive strategic response,
that included debt cancellation and reforms to the WTO Trips agreement.
Etsuya Washio, President of RENGO (Japan) developed the theme of debt relief
and the need for an expanded programme of development assistance. Luc Cortebeeck,
Vice-President of the WCL and TUAC spoke on the need for a system of global
governance and democracy that met the needs of workers, not just vested
business interests. Dieter Schulte, President of the DGB (Germany) called
for co-ordinated action to raise economic growth and to increase employment,
while John Monks, General Secretary of the TUC (United Kingdom) raised
the need for trade unions to be fully involved in skills development, and
managing workplace change. Emilio Gabaglio, ETUC General Secretary raised
the role of Europe in all of this, while Ken Georgetti, President of the
CLC (Canada) set out the trade union vision for sustainable development
and mitigating climate change, along with needed reforms to export credits.
10. In his responses Silvio Berlusconi said that he would present only
three messages to other heads of state, the written and oral messages of
the trade unions, those of business, and those of the Catholic Church.
Within that it was workers above all that continue to contribute to the
world economy. He said he wanted to present to his counterparts a proposal
for a Universal Charter on Good Governance that would include trade unions,
civil society, and human rights, aimed at those countries in receipt of
development assistance. He was hopeful that the proposed Global Health
Fund would reach its target of raising $ 1.3 billion, but recognised that
it would be insufficient to meet the health needs of developing countries.
He said that it was his lack of time in office that had worked against
a more institutionalised trade union input into the Genoa Summit, and that
he would request that for the 2002 Canadian G8 meeting. As regards the
economic situation he agreed that inflation was a “ghost”, and that the
danger now was one of “stagnation”, further agreeing that stimulatory policies
were needed. He said that measures to secure the environment were at the
forefront of the G8 agenda, and that it was essential, including in Italy,
that governments meet their commitments to raise their ODA levels to the
agreed UN target of 0.7% of GDP.
11. At the conclusion of the meeting, the TUAC General Secretary requested
that five points of apparent agreement be reflected in the Communiqué
on the social dimension of the global economy: respect for core labour
rights; the need for more resources for development; the current need to
stimulate economic and employment growth; a widespread public debate on
reforming the international governance and financial market architecture,
including the WTO, IMF and World Bank; and a more institutionalised trade
union input into the 2002 Summit.
The G8 Communiqué
12. Few of these points of apparent agreement with the Summit host found
their way into the Communiqué. A leading role in the Communiqué
was given to “A Strategic Approach to Poverty Reduction”, including debt
relief. However, what was disturbing was the failure to offer anything
new beyond previously announced commitments and initiatives in the areas
of implementing the OECD Bribery Convention, efforts to pursue an anti-corruption
initiative at the UN, and to encourage Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs)
to help recipient countries strengthen public expenditure and budget management.
On debt relief, and despite the rhetoric of some G8 leaders, no new deal
was offered to HIPC countries beyond that already on the table. The section
entitled “beyond debt relief” concentrated on securing: a “greater participation
by developing countries in the global trading system, increased private
investment, and initiatives to promote health education and food security”.
On the first point the G8 leaders pledged themselves to support the launch
of a new trade Round but they were short on detail and have no reference
to trade and labour standards. On the need for private investment, the
Communiqué was pretty much biased towards a business as usual approach
of privatisation, and “public private partnerships”, a concept which some
G8 leaders are having problems with at home. On the last point, whilst
the commitment of $ 1.3 billion to the new Global Fund to fight HIV-Aids
and other health pandemics was a welcome step forward, it has to be set
against Kofi Annan’s call for $ 10 billion. Moreover, the involvement of
the private sector within this raises questions about their securing cheap
publicity. At the same time the Communiqué is contradictory on the
issue of the Trips agreement and its use by pharmaceutical multinationals
to deny developing countries access to affordable drugs. On the one hand
it recognised the “appropriateness of affected countries” to use the flexibility
clauses within the agreement to ensure the availability of drugs for their
citizens. On the other hand it recognised the need for “strong and effective
intellectual property rights protection as a necessary incentive for research
and development of life-saving drugs”.
13. The language on education as “a building block for growth and employment”
centred on a reaffirmation of meeting past commitments contained in the
“Dakar Framework” from last year’s UN Dakar Conference on Education. One
new development that will require a global union follow-up is the establishment
of a Task Force comprised of senior G8 officials to advise on how to pursue
the Dakar goals “in co-operation with developing countries, relevant international
organisations and other stakeholders”.
14. G8 leaders endorsed the Genoa Action Plan submitted by the “DOT
Force” that was initiated at the Okinawa Summit to overcome the digital
divide in access to ICT technology, and called for a progress report on
its implementation at the 2002 Summit. Following a campaign by the TUAC,
ICFTU and ITS’s, the Action Plan did recognise that trade unions should
be encouraged as part of wider moves to foster “lifelong learning”. It
is essential that trade unions follow up on that.
15. The Communiqué folded in language on the environment, and
food safety into a section entitled “A Legacy for the Future”. Against
the backdrop of concurrent developments in Bonn at the Sixth Conference
of the Parties, it was to be expected that no new breakthroughs would come
out of the G8 over the Kyoto Protocol. Although, the agreement in Bonn,
against the odds, to proceed with a modified Kyoto protocol creates a new
political dynamic. One new development was the proposal by Russia to host
in 2003 a multistakeholder global conference on climate change, on which
the ICFTU and TUAC will work to ensure a broad trade union presence as
part of ‘civil society’.
16. Welcome language was included on the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable
Development that linked the three dimensions of sustainable development:
enhancing economic growth, promoting human and social development, and
protecting the environment, as interdependent objectives. Welcome too was
a reference on the need for civil society to be engaged on the development
of a forward looking, substantive agenda along with action orientated results.
17. G8 leaders wasted an opportunity to review the OECD negotiations
on export credits and the environment so as to make them compatible with
sustainable development, including by calling for binding labour and wider
human rights, and environmental standards. Rather, the Communiqué
offered nothing new on the substance, and stuck to the line that implementation
should be via voluntary commitments through a non-binding OECD recommendation.
The joint trade union-NGO campaign will have to engage in further lobbying
efforts around this, and for more unilateral action by governments to link
the Guidelines to public subsidies, including export credits. On food safety,
the G8 leaders recognised the need to achieve greater global consensus
on the “precautionary principle”.
18. As noted a short and perfunctory paragraph on employment was included
in a section entitled “Increasing Prosperity in a Socially-Inclusive Society”
which commited the Heads of Government to implement policies in line with
the recommendations of the 2000 Turin G8 Labour Ministers Conference. The
Turin conclusions were close to trade union objectives, and we will seek
to ensure that the current G8 governments stick to them, but the social
dimension of globalisation cried out for a more strategic response.
19. The G8 leaders announced that they would aim for a smaller meeting
in the future and at a site in 2002 in the Canadian Rockies, more easily
“defendable”. The international trade union movement will need to continue
to press the G8 leaders and other global fora on the action that is needed
to establish global social justice. We need to follow up the Summit host’s
remarks in favour of giving labour a seat at the Table and G8 unions are
urged to press for this at meetings with their governments.