TUAC - Trade Union Advisory Committee





15 FEBRUARY 2002

Trade Unions Press Positions at New York Davos 
and Porto Alegre Gatherings

TUAC representatives were part of the international trade union team pressing for action on social concerns that were high up the agenda of the New York Davos World Economic Forum and the parallel Porto Alegre World Social Forum. 

Trade unionists from international bodies and national unions stressed that it was urgent to globalise social justice and build workers' rights into the trading system.   They warned that failure to tackle these issues could mean the recurrence of behaviour similar to that shown by Enron, and the repetition of financial collapse on a national scale similar to what happened in Argentina.  TUAC General Secretary John Evans in New York and adviser Roy Jones in Porto Alegre were participants in a number of panels at the two meetings.

A common international trade union position was presented to both forums which agreed that "the world cannot in realty divided into those who are for globalisation and those who are against it". It called for a world where "corporations respect the rights of their workers and unions."

A preliminary joint statement adopted at the Porto Alegre Social forum by delegates representing hundreds of advocacy groups throughout the world said they were "a global solidarity movement, united in our determination to fight against the concentration of wealth, the proliferation of poverty and inequalities, and the destruction of our Earth". The theme stressed at the Porto Alegre forum was "Another World is Possible". 

At the Davos in New York meeting, Guy Ryder, new acting General Secretary of the ICFTU, warned that action to prevent any more Enrons and Argentinas was essential or the meeting would be judged a failure.  He said: "We need a rights-based approach to globalisation" and called for funds to be made available to alleviate poverty and kick-start the global economy.

Heading a delegation of 30 labour leaders to the WEF, Guy Ryder asked: "Are Chief Executive Officers of corporations ready to accept workers' rights?  Are they ready to take the social responsibility people have been talking about here?  Are they ready to accept regulation?  If Enron and Argentina are not their fault and they fail to ensure there are no more Enrons and Argentinas then the verdict on the Forum will be negative."

At a news conference AFL-CIO and TUAC President John Sweeney told journalists : "We are not opposed to trade, we just want to make sure that workers are part of the rules."  He said "Deceit and manipulation is what Enron economics is about.  .... Enron is a disgrace that has to be addressed through the legislature and the legal process.  The Enron story will be told loud and clear and will highlight the changes that are needed in regulation and how to protect the retirement security of workers around the world." 

At a panel discussion on the future of the IMF, John Evans argued that the meeting was far too sanguine on the devastating social consequences of the Argentina situation. The IMF, as well as the Argentina authorities had to share the blame, and for the future, the IMF had to cooperate more with other agencies such as the International Labour Organisation, to ensure that basic governance structures functioned and labour rights were respected.

To read the Trade union statement, click here: 

User's Guide on OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises now Available in Several Language Editions

The TUAC User's Guide to help trade unionists implementing the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises issued at  the end of last year in has now been translated into Russian, Hungarian and Korean language versions by TUAC affiliates and partners. It will soon also be available into German, French and Spanish.

The Guidelines are OECD Government standards for corporate behaviour, which can help solve specific problems or create an environment for social dialogue. They apply to worldwide operations run by OECD-based companies. 

To receive the printed  version of the Guide, contact the TUAC Secretariat.
To read the PDF version in English, click here 

U.N. Highlights Trade Union Issues for World Summit 
on Sustainable Development in South Africa

Key trade union and worker issues are reflected in the first of two reports to be released by the U.N. about the matters that the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) or "Earth Summit" should address when it is held in South Africa next August. 

In the first report summarising a three-day multi-stakeholder dialogue session held at the end of January in New York and just released, the Chair of the WSSD Prepcom II has incorporated the key issues brought forth by a 30-member ICFTU/TUAC Trade Union delegation, which participated in the process. 

The "Chairman's Summary" captures most of the principal issues highlighted at the sessions by trade unions:

* Recognition of ILO Core Labour Standards and the restoration of the role of the ILO in sustainable development implementation discussions;

* Integration of the social dimension of sustainable development, especially as it relates to poverty eradication, employment and sustainable job creation, especially for youth and women;

* Inclusion of a workplace focus for sustainable development implementation, generally, but especially for hotspot problems, like HIV/AIDS. Looking at Health and Safety structures as a model for sustainable development implementation was also highlighted as well as the need for new workplace-based partnerships;

* Reviewing issues related to globalisation, deregulation and privatisation, as well as matters related to corporate accountability. 

The report also reflected the inputs from other Major Groups of Agenda 21 (Business, Indigenous People, Local Authorities, NGO's, Farmers, Scientists, Women, Youth). However, this is the first time trade union issues were highlighted so clearly by the U.N. in a document summarising a multi-stakeholder dialogue session. 

Governments have received the summary of the dialogue session and have been requested to consider it as a key input to producing their own document. Future government preparation meetings for the earth Summit will be held on 25 March - 5 April in New York and  27 May - 7 June in Indonesia. 

Together, the two documents are expected to help shape the agenda, format, and structure of the Earth Summit. 

The Government document for the New York meeting will be released shortly. However, so far the European Union, Switzerland, ILO and the FAO have argued for inclusion of the ILO core labour standards within the Government report. 

Further information is available from Lucien Royer, at the TUAC secretariat.

OECD/TUAC Joint Labour-Management Meeting 
on Sustainable Development Indicators

National and international trade union representatives met on 11 February with the OECD to discuss compiling a set of sustainable development indicators.    Held under the auspices of the Labour-Management programme, the one-day meeting sought to identify the focus and nature of the planned indicators.

Subsequent to discussion of the report "Policies to enhance Sustainable Development", and the endorsement of its key recommendations, at the May 2001 Ministerial Council meeting, OECD Ministers asked the Organisation to develop agreed indicators that measure progress in sustainable development.  The indicators should include decoupling of economic growth from environmental degradation with a view to incorporating these into OECD's economic, social and environmental peer review processes, and also identify obstacles to policy reforms, in addition to analysing further the social aspects of sustainable development.

At the meeting, the trade union side emphasised that sustainable development consisted of  social, economic and environment pillars, and the social pillar should primarily be directed to eradicating poverty, redistributing wealth and creating employment. 

The report of the meeting, prepared by Professor David Pearce, will be available shortly, but in the meantime, to read the TUAC provisional conclusions of the meeting , click 

TUAC Working Group on Economic Policy 
to meet in  Washington

Global economic issues and prospects, the future international financial architecture, as well as a review of a draft trade union statement to the G8 Labour Ministers meeting in Montreal on 25 to 27 April 2002 --  these are among the main items for the forthcoming meeting of the TUAC Working Group on Economic Policy in Washington on 28 February -1 March.

The two-day meeting, which concludes with a preliminary discussion on the trade union statement to be given to the OECD Ministerial meeting and the G8 Kananaskis Summit (in May - June 2002), is to be held at AFL-CIO headquarters in the US capital. The working group will also have an open panel on the policy implications of the Enron collapse with Jeff Faux of the Economic Policy Institute and Ron Blackwell of the AFL-CIO as speakers.

The item on International Financial Architecture includes a progress report on global unions work with the IMF and World Bank, a set of trade union proposals for reform, an assessment of the Argentine crisis, followed by consultations with IMF officials.  The meeting concludes with a review of the economic situation in the main OECD regions (North America, Europe and Japan).

Visit the World Trade Union Movement’s Web Site 


 Global Unions, the global union website, jointly owned and run by the international trade union movement, was launched in 2000.

Global Unions is run by 14 trade union organisations – the ICFTU, the  International Trade Secretariats, the European Trade Union Confederation and the TUAC. 

Global Unions means that people using the internet can find up-to date information on what is happening in the international trade union scene from a single site.  It is also constructed so that internet users can see what all the trade unions are saying on a particular subject.

As well as giving the range of trade union views on a single site, Global unions is designed as an aid to trade union activists on how to get involved, as well as giving people working inside trade union organisations the most up-to date news on what is happening. It also sends a clear message to the media on the current thinking, campaigns and concerns of the international trade union movement, as a united force, or as individual organisations. 

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TUAC, the Trade Union Advisory Committee to the OECD is the voice of organised labour in the industrialised countries. Founded originally in 1948 as a trade union committee in connection with the Marshall Plan, it is a Non-Governmental Organisation enjoying official consultative status with the OECD. TUAC is composed of national trade union centres in OECD countries and has partner organisations in those non-Member countries where cooperation programmes exist with the OECD.

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