Notes for G8 Consultation Meeting in Trieste

(Italy 2-4 March, 2001)

International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU)
Trade Union Advisory Committee to the OECD (TUAC)

Trade unions have focused on poverty elimination, decent employment and core labour standards as key elements of sustainable development. In order to ensure proper implementation of objectives (including for climate change) they have also promoted roles for workplaces, workers and trade-unions, as contemplated in Chapter 29 of Agenda 21.

Understanding the Social Dimension: Trade unions, along with a growing number of organisations, have called for the social dimension of sustainable development to be recognised, measured and reported along with environmental and economic aspects. Decent employment and job creation must be central, not peripheral to this dimension, as they address the issue of access to essential goods and services, as well to the environmental effects of population increases. The G8 should reinforce the principle that policies and strategies related to the implementation plans for sustain-able development (e.g. for water, energy and other resources) should be measured against employ-ment specifically, and social indicators generally, in addition to their environmental implications.
The Social Dimension refers to the alleviation of poverty, security of livelihood, access to food, shelter, water, health & welfare, social security, sanitation, education, transport, and incorporates protection of basic human and economic freedoms as enshrined in international Conventions and Protocols. Full social impact assessments must become the norm, to be fully integrated with envi-ronmental and economic assessments. Theoretical prediction models must pave the way to real-life assessments of impacts.

A Focus on Workplaces: It is crucial that the G8 focus on the world’s workplaces, as they are at the hub of production, and major consumers in their own right. Effective change in the workplace can only be achieved with the full “engagement” of workers and trade unions, however. Trade union capacities for training and education, as well as their expertise in occupational health and safety, can be effectively utilised in such strategies as “Workplace Assessments" for sustainable develop-ment generally, and wiser uses of resources, specifically.
Workplace assessments are undertaken by workers, their representatives and employers to identify where workplace performance can be improved. They lead to joint target-setting, monitoring, rec-ord-keeping, and implementation, in tandem with enterprise management systems for environment (e.g. Cleaner Production or ISO), health and safety (e.g. ILO Guidelines or Government regula-tions), internal or 3rd party enterprise audits, or Government-based programmes (e.g. EMAS). To some extent, they must also link and be evaluated by community organisations or local govern-ments, and can also be made to work with collective agreements or other special partnership ar-rangements.

Workers & Sustainable Consumption: The scale of change required to achieve Agenda 21 requires that workers also become more responsible consumers of resources like water and energy. Pro-grammes must not only improve workplace performance; they must also seek to impact on personal and domestic consumption of workers, and the community.

Creating Positive Attitudes For Change: Major barriers to worker involvement must be addressed, as identified by the ILO’s Socio-Economic Security Programme. Socio-economic security policies, for example, can pave the way for poverty elimination through secure employment, as a corner-stone of sustainable development, as well as by enhancing the engagement of workers in workplace and social change. Workers are prepared to support change, but only if they believe that transition programmes will provide retraining, re-employment, compensation, or otherwise continued liveli-hood. The close relationship between poverty, population increases and incomes makes the devel-opment of social and employment transition plans a necessity. It also depends upon respect for internationally-recognised ILO core labour standards, above all the freedom of association and the right to organise. 
OECD Guidelines on Multinationals should be promoted as instruments for sustainable develop-ment and G8 should promote their use by all countries.

Climate Change & employment Impacts: Climate change strategies reveal problems associated not just with energy, but with attempts to implement Agenda 21 generally. While a few national and regional reviews have been conducted on social and employment impacts of climate change (or its mitigation), overall effects have yet to become a priority in international discussions. Although jobs are sure to be lost and created in any climate change scenario, there has been no significant attempt to ascertain the extent of these casualties, globally. 
Business & Trade Union Call For Cooperation Between OECD, ILO and EU: In October 2000, OECD hosted a climate change meeting with BIAC (Business Advisory Committee to the OECD) and TUAC (Trade Union Advisory Committee to the OECD). Experts urged governments to en-courage more co-operation between ILO, OECD, the European Union and others to study the em-ployment implications of climate change. The G8 should seek to echo this recommendation.

Preparing For Social and Energy Transitions: Social and employment transition programmes to in-sure full worker/union collaboration with employers, environmentalists, and governments must also be a focus for the G8. Social & employment transition measures must ensure a continued livelihood and orderly conversion for workers and affected communities, with minimum income protection, access to new jobs, educational assistance and social programs to ensure uninterrupted access to basic needs and services. It must also be integrated with the development of alternative energy sce-narios, which incorporate “green job” promotion.

Understanding Financial Flows in the Energy Sector: As few employers can sustain the cost of transition on their own, transition issues must be addressed within sectors or across borders, and provide equitable distribution of the costs or benefits. Given the substantial financial flows the global energy sector generates, it could hold the key to the financing of successful transition pro-grams.  A full range of financial and economic instruments must be used to redirect, traditional en-ergy financing toward improving transition, which should take place in concert with the develop-ment of alternative energy scenarios. 

Subsidies & Investment Practices: G8 must respond to growing demands for a review of subsidies. A recent OECD study, Reforming Energy and Transport Subsidies, proposes that many transport subsidies work directly against the goal of sustainable development, and that their removal would result in substantial reductions in CO2 emissions and stimulate economic growth. This could yield positive results, on condition that any changes to subsidies are first measured against their employ-ment and social impacts and form part of a well integrated process toward sustainable development. Subsidy reform does not necessarily mean removal. Where subsidies and fees exist for sound policy reasons, such as employment, a solution might be to convert subsidies into local incentives for em-ployment, or grants for home insulation, or for improving facilities for non-motorized and public transport. 
Export Credits: The G8 should call on the OECD to review the role of Export credits, so as to en-sure that they are compatible with and promote in practice the social and environmental pillars of sustainable development.

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Capturé par MemoWeb à partir de http://www.tuac.org/news/ntriesteg8enve.htm  le 25/03/02
Capturé par MemoWeb à partir de http://www.tuac.org/news/ntriesteg8enve.htm  le 25/03/02