OECD Guidelines' decision
on Marks and Spencer
Closure in France
In its first public report since
being constituted earlier this year, the French National Contact Point
charged with dealing with the cases under the OECD Multinational Enterprises
Guidelines has criticised the Marks and Spencer Group for the way it sought
to close down its stores in France.
After French trade unions took their
case about the way the company behaved to the tripartite contact group
(made up of representatives from the administration, enterprises and unions),
the contact point reviewed the company's action. It has now
announced that Marks and Spencer failed to respect the guidelines by not
informing and consulting employees about its plans to close down its operations
A French trade union, CFDT press
release welcomed the Contact Point's decision which had told the M &
S management that social obligations to consult staff on company plans
were every bit as important as keeping financial markets informed. TUAC
General Secretary John Evans commented: "This is an important vindication
of employees' rights to be informed and consulted on corporate issues of
direct concern to them. The buyers of the Marks and Spencer stores must
now respect those employees' rights."
TUAC Plenary Session
held in Paris
Trade union leaders from TUAC's affiliates,
along with representatives of Global union organisations, met in Paris
on 15-16 November. The plenary session took stock of a number of
important issues for trade unions, including the current economic situation,
and the outcome of the fourth Ministerial Conference of the WTO held from
9 to 13 November in Doha. Delegates also discussed preparations
for the TUAC consultations on 16 November with the OECD Liaison Committee,
a group that includes the OECD Ambassadors, and top economic policy staff
of the organisation. Other items dealt with included: follow-up work
around the G8 Genoa Summit and preparations for the G8 meetings in 2002;
ongoing work related to the implementation of the OECD Guidelines for Multinational
Enterprises; TUAC's involvement in the trade union movement's Millennium
Review; developments linked to trade union preparatory work for the
2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development; and a progress report
on UNICORN, a Global Unions Anti-Corruption Network.
After hearing reports of the work
carried out over the past year by the TUAC Secretariat, the plenary session
emphasised the importance of TUAC's efforts in furthering international
trade union co-operation, and re-elected General-Secretary John Evans for
a further four-year term. Delegates also heard a valedictory
intervention by Pietro Merli Brandini, former National Secretary
of the Italian Trade Union Confederation CISL and a Member of the TUAC
Administrative Committee. Brandini, who first attended a TUAC meeting
in 1950, gave a personal view of half a century of international
trade union co-operation, drawing lessons relevant to current and future
TUAC activities. Emphasising the need for governance of globalisation,
he called also for trade union development to be globalised.
Pietro Merli Brandini's closing words were simply: "We have done a good
job, together. But there is still a lot to be done, maybe more than
we have already done. Go ahead, my good friends, and do it."
To read the text of Pietro Merli
Brandini's statement, click here
urges Liaison Committee to press
OECD Member Governments
in combating worsening
TUAC representatives used the meeting
with the OECD Liaison Committee on 16 November to press Member governments
to meet their responsibility for managing the world economy, and to act
to reverse the economic and social damage caused by the worsening global
economic crisis. A TUAC position paper called on OECD governments
also to "use the current situation to reflect on globalisation and confront
issues of global governance".
TUAC called for effective and coherent
policy actions to redress the situation. Noting that the world's
largest economies were already experiencing slowing growth, or even recession,
prior to 11 September, TUAC called for further expansionary monetary
policy and fiscal measures, co-ordinated and concerted by OECD governments
to "ensure that the world does not tip further into recession".
It was also urgent to re-examine globalisation and develop policies to
"tackle fundamental issues of rights, poverty and injustice".
The union leaders pressed especially
for a new development agenda to eradicate world poverty, using a policy
approach based on partnerships between industrialised and developing countries.
TUAC stressed that the development
strategy needed to meet objectives of poverty reduction, while ensuring
that global trade and investment provisions gave market access, boosted
development prospects, and guaranteed respect for core labour standards.
Also, OECD governments had to develop more effective international economic
governance to manage and humanise the globalisation process. A rules-based
multilateral system built on universally-accepted social and environmental
norms and standards needed to be reinforced; the new OECD Guidelines
for Multinational Enterprises should be a priority for governments, the
TUAC argued, and were vital in restoring public faith in the multilateral
system. The unions also pressed for changes in the financial
market architecture to ensure stable and sustained growth in the world
Other recent OECD policy initiatives
which will help to meet public concerns for reshaping the international
corporate policy agenda include the set of OECD Principles of Corporate
Governance (already welcomed by TUAC); recent OECD work on bribery
and corruption, which concerns both corporate accountability and the rule
of law as well as the intergovernmental framework of governance.
Follow-up work in both these areas can only be relevant if it meets the
needs and aspirations of working families.
Click here for full text of the TUAC discussion paper
WTO Talks must not worsen
Imbalances of Globalisation
(Doha, November 14,
2001): The launch of new WTO negotiations in Doha may well be a short-lived
accomplishment, warned Global Unions, which groups 13 international trade
union organisations, including the ICFTU and TUAC.
“This WTO Conference failed to take
the opportunity to tackle the inequities of globalisation by doing something
effective for social justice, democracy and the protection of basic workers’
rights,” commented ICFTU General Secretary Bill Jordan. “Remember,
the last trade round took eight years to complete. It will be a long
haul before these negotiations come anywhere near their end, and a global
recession would put increasing strain on the global trading system.
There is a real danger of a further surge in low-cost, exploitative production
in export processing zones, where the overwhelming majority of workers
The WTO Ministerial Declaration reiterates
the position that the WTO first adopted at Singapore five years ago concerning
respect for core labour standards, and draws attention to the work begun
in the ILO in that regard. On 12 November, the ILO in effect endorsed
the setting up of a World Commission on the social dimensions of globalisation.
“After Singapore, everyone expected
the WTO to start co-operation with the ILO, yet that commitment has been
a non-starter”, commented Bill Jordan. “After the Doha Conference,
the minimum we expect to see is some effective initiative to bring about
genuine co-operation between these two bodies. Less than that will
turn workers and their organisations against the world trading system.”
Apart from the TRIPS agreement on
access to medicines, little is to be seen of the social agenda in the final
In Doha, TUAC and the ICFTU
took part in a thirty-strong union delegation from developing and industrialised
countries undertook intensive efforts to promote the trade union social
and developmental agenda at the WTO. Those efforts bore fruit in
a groundswell of support for union proposals, throughout the Caribbean
and in a large number of other developing regions. Unfortunately,
the hard-line voices of a handful of countries including Pakistan, Egypt,
Malaysia and Zimbabwe carried the day.
“The WTO and its members have to
tackle a basic problem: the support for social progress of a silent majority
of WTO members has less weight than the loud voices of a handful of hard-liners,
who can stop decision-making being representative”, concluded Bill Jordan.
“The union movement will be maintaining its campaign until the day that
the WTO incorporates adequate development, social, labour, gender and environmental
concerns into its work and mechanisms.”
Progress report on UNICORN,
a Global Unions anti-corruption Network
The joint TUAC-ICFTU-PSI trade union Anti-Corruption Network known
as UNICORN is now operational. A progress report covering UNICORN's activities
for the period June to October 2001 is now available.
UNICORN is financed by a grant from the Wallace Global Fund, and managed
by the Public Services International Research Unit (PSIRU) of the University
of Greenwich, in the UK, and is overseen by a steering committee comprising
representatives of TUAC, ICFTU and PSI. Its mission is to mobilise
trade unionists across the world to share information and coordinate action
in order to combat international corruption. It seeks to strengthen
global attempts to penalise and deter bribery. In addition to creating
a trade union-based information system and network, UNICORN
is also actively building links and collaborating with other national
and international NGOs which share common goals.
The progress report can be obtained from the TUAC Office.
Global Unions call for world economic stimulus
in wake of terrorist attacks and their aftermath
After the G7 Finance Ministers meeting in Washington on 6-7 October
failed to reach agreement on a concerted plan of action, Global Unions
called today for joint, co-ordinated and far-reaching economic measures
to ensure that the world does not tip yet further into a recession.
"Following the terrible events of 11 September, it is vital that the
worsening world economic recession, which is one of the results, does not
cause yet more human tragedy,” said Bill Jordan, General Secretary of the
International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) today from Brussels.
The world’s biggest economies were experiencing slowing growth even
prior to 11 September, and the shock of these events threatens to make
the world’s economic health even more precarious. Predictions of global
economic growth have been revised downwards, and there have already been
several high profile bankruptcies and hundreds of thousands of layoffs.
The World Bank announced last week that it expected the number of those
living in extreme poverty to increase by an additional 10 million people,
and tens of thousands more children to die worldwide.
“Obviously interest rates should be cut to offset the loss in business
confidence, but there are deeper issues too, that have to be addressed”,
said John Evans, General Secretary of the Trade Union Advisory Committee
to the OECD (TUAC/OECD). "The US, Europe and Japan face synchronised recession,
showing the need for concerted monetary and fiscal action. We need a more
balanced global economy, and we need more of the world to share in the
prosperity and in the responsibility of driving economic growth.”
Airline companies, especially in the US, have been asking taxpayers
for massive bailouts, and have received 16 billion dollars at the same
time as they have laid off over a hundred thousand employees. Workers,
as yet, have received nothing but redundancy notices. This must not be
the pattern of government responses in the coming weeks and months. Emergency
rescue funds to companies must be linked to protection of jobs and full
negotiations about restructuring and dismissals.
While US President George W. Bush announced an economic boost last week,
the resources promised fall far short of the scale of the task. John
Sweeney, President of the AFL-CIO, said on 4 October that "the President's
plan appears certain to need substantially more resources than he proposes.
Early estimates show that his unemployment proposal would affect less than
half of the 360,000 workers already subject to lay off notices, and for
too short a time."
John Evans added, "The immediate reactions of the world’s central banks
to the attacks showed that concerted action by public authorities can indeed
shore up confidence and make the difference between panic and stability.
Direct action is essential. Every country's room for manoeuvre is
different, but acting together, rather than apart, will increase what the
world is capable of achieving."
Much of the emphasis in a world-wide recovery package must be
on attacking poverty. Debt relief, market access, democracy and human rights
are essential to the fight against poverty. Aid levels must be raised
to the agreed UN target of 0.7% of GNP. The recovery effort must
provide large-scale increases in funds for vocational training, incomes
for the unemployed, infrastructure investments - i.e., investments
in transportation, communications, water systems, public health care, school
construction and modernisation, and environmental clean-up – all of which
will increase job opportunities today and productive capacity tomorrow.
Bill Jordan concluded, “We need global policies and institutions that
promote real growth to assist ordinary workers and that deal with poverty.
The Global Unions Day of Action on 9 November, 'Making Globalisation work
for People', is going to hammer this point home, because this crisis should
have made that obvious to us all.”
The TUAC Working Group on Economic Policy will meet on 18 October to
discuss further economic measures that are needed.
Trade unions to take labour & social issues
to climate change talks at OECD & COP7
On October 12 , fifteen TUAC trade union experts will meet an equal
number of representatives from business, governments and research institutions
at the OECD in Paris to flesh out the elements of an eventual research
programme, aimed at better understanding the employment implications of
The outcome of the Paris meeting will feed into the preparations for
a trade union workshop, scheduled for November 6 at the 7th Conference
of the Parties (COP7) meeting of the UNFCCC (UN Framework Convention on
Climate Change), to be held in Marrakech, Morocco. The COP7 Workshop will
aim to convince governments to open discussions on the social implications
of climate change and to consider 'just transition' programmes, as a means
of promoting more consensus over climate change mitigation measures.
At the OECD in Paris, case studies selected by TUAC and BIAC will be
examined as a basis of determining the future research priorities for employment
and climate change, including the methodologies to be applied and the questions
to be answered. The meeting will also involve the OECD, ILO, and European
Community in discussions about possible cooperation to undertake such research.
TUAC Secretary General John Evans says the meeting is an important step
the trade union efforts to promote employment transition programmes for
workers affected by climate change itself or programmes to mitigate its
Attached to this message are: a) the draft agenda for the 12 October
meeting, and b) a discussion paper prepared for the OECD by Professor John
Chesshire from Sussex University, UK, and c) a draft notice for the trade
union COP7 workshop to be held November 6.
The UK and South Africa Governments are scheduled to lead the discussions
at the COP7 trade union workshop and business, NGO and other government
representatives will be invited to participate. TUAC and ICFTU are currently
accepting trade union nominations to participate in COP7, which will take
place from October 29to November 9. Nominations will close on 1 October,
2001 so perspective participants are urged to make contact with TUAC very
soon for information about their registration, accommodation, and Visas.
The ICFTU/TUAC submission to COP7 is currently in preparation and will
be discussed at the OHSE Working Party meeting, scheduled for October 3-4
in Paris. Input by trade unions into the eventual COP7 submission
can be provided by sending feedback on the trade union submission to the
recent CO6bis meeting, held last July in Germany. Copies of this
submission can be provided upon request in either French, English, or Spanish.
Trade union outcomes of the OECD and COP7 meetings will feed into the
preparatory meetings at the UN next February for the World Summit on Sustainable
Development (WSSD), to be held in South Africa in 2002.
TUAC signs agreement with UNEP
over its input to WSSD industry reports
Under a recently signed agreement with the United Nations Environment
Programme (UNEP), TUAC will coordinate the Trade Union input with ITS (International
Trade Secretariats) into 23 United Nations industry sector reports, destined
for the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD), scheduled for 2002
in South Africa.
ICEM, IFBWW, IMF, ITF, ITGLWF, IUF, PSI, and trade union representatives
from TUAC and ICFTU secretariat, as well as from certain national affiliates,
have agreed to participate in a first round of meetings with UNEP next
3 October in Paris, the day prior to the opening of the ICFTU/TUAC/ITS
OHSE Working Party meeting in Brussels, scheduled for 4-5 October, 2001.
In a joint effort with the ICEM, ICFTU, CLC (Canada), and the Canadian
Energy and Paper Workers ( CEP-Canada) Mr. Brian Kohler of CEP has been
seconded for the next three months to coordinate the trade union response
to the reports, which are currently being prepared by the Industry and
Technology Division of UNEP in Paris. The effort aims to ensure that industry
reviews are developed, so as to ensure the integration of the three pillars
of sustainable development, including the social dimension and to produce
a report describing how the labour movement interprets the environment
principles of the Global Compact.
The ICFTU and CLC have arranged for the CEP secondment of Kohler, who
will work out of the ICEM office in Brussels. TUAC will coordinate efforts
of the Working Party in ensuring the coordination of outcomes with OECD,
UNEP and other intergovernmental bodies.
TUAC General Secretary, John Evans said that this first agreement with
UNEP signals its openness in working with trade unions in the lead up to
the WSSD. He said that the outcomes of this three month's effort will feed
into the trade union preparations for the WSSD world preparatory meeting
scheduled for next February at the UN in New York.
The industry sectors that will be reviewed are: accounting, advertising,
agrifood, cement, chemicals, construction, detergents, finance, information
& communication, management of waste & water, mining & metals,
oil & gas, postal services, power generation, pulp and paper, refrigeration,
tanning, textile, tourism, and transport.
International Labour Movement expresses its horror
at the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington
TUAC joins the rest of the international labour movement in expressing
horror and outrage at the callous killing of so many innocent women, men
and children in the terrorist attacks of 11th September. All of us in the
international labour movement stand in solidarity with our American colleagues
at this time resolute in defence of democratic and open societies, based
on the universal values of freedom and human dignity. AFL-CIO President
John Sweeney in his public statement on 12th September said “We mourn those
who perished as they performed their work, whether in rescue efforts, in
offices or on airplanes. --- Already union members have gone into action
to assist the rescue efforts, and the AFL-CIO and our unions will do everything
we can to assist the continued rescue operations and the medical care of
those injured. --- Even as we denounce this act, we must remember that
this was an act of terrorists, not an Arab attack, and reject anti-Arab
retaliation or discrimination. Now is the time to renew the values that
bind us together as a nation.” (the full statement can be read at
TUAC delegation to OECD
high-level agriculture meeting calls for
the workers voice to be heard in the reform debate
The TUAC delegation to the OECD High-level Agriculture meeting, held
in Paris on 3 and 4 September, included Ron Oswald, general secretary of
the International Union of Food, Agricultural, Tobacco, Hotel, Restauraant,
Catering and Allied Workers' Associations (IUF). Representing farm
and food industry workers in 120 countries, the majority from the
poorer non-OECD nations in the less developed regions of the world, Mr.
Oswald urged the OECD gathering to put highest priority on the inclusion
of the voice from food workers in the debate over agricultural policy reform.
The text of his introductory remarks to the conference is avalaible
New International Trade Union Anti-corruption
UNICORN, the TUAC-ICFTU-PSI International trade union Anticorruption
Network, has now been launched, with financial support from the Wallace
Global Fund, a US based charitable foundation. UNICORN's overall goal is
to establish a trade union-based information system and network to
help support and strengthen local, national and international action against
UNICORN will help TUAC affiliates monitor the implementation of the
OECD Anti Bribery Convention which came place into force in 1999. This
convention obliges signatory governments to criminalise the payment
of bribes to foreign public officials by multinational enterprises operating
from their territories. Governments have now agreed a monitoring process
including consultations with TUAC/BIAC and Transparency International,
and an OECD Mission will conduct on-site visits to examine the performance
of national systems enacted to enforce the laws and rules to implement
the Convention. Up to seven missions a year are expected to be held. The
first was held in Helsinki, Finland, this month (Sept 2001) with TUAC affiliates,
BIAC and Transparency International taking part in the consultations.
These developments are part of the wider trade union campaign against
corporate globalisation. TUAC is currently compiling a network of contacts
in affiliates to work with UNICORN staff, and help them prepare for consultation
with the OECD missions. Among the key areas whose policies and practises
UNICORN is researching are :
- Export Credit Guarantee Agencies ;
- Multilateral Development Bank-funded projects ;
- Multinational companies ;
- Funding of political parties.
Affiliates still to nominate a contact person are urged to do so
and to forward details to Roy Jones at the TUAC Secretariat.
Global Unions at Genoa G8 Summit
The run-up to the Genoa G8 Summit 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
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. 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.
John Sweeney, President of the AFL-CIO and TUAC, introduced the Global
Unions Statement (prepared by TUAC in association with the ICFTU, ETUC
and WLC) to Silvio Berlusconi. In his opening remarks, he warned of the
"growing crisis of democracy" and of a "global system that remains opaque,
remote and unaccountable….. a system increasingly viewed as an illegitimate
imposition by powerful private interests that undermine the common good".
Calling for reforms he said: "People across the world are calling for a
new internationalism, one that protects the common good, not the private
interests. One that protects global concerns and holds corporations accountable
not one that forces up global corporations and lags waste to the environment".
In his responses, Silvio Berlusconi said among other things that he
would request that trade unions have a more institutionalised input to
the 2002 G8 Summit.
Following the meeting, the TUAC Secretariat prepared and evaluation
of the outcome of the Summit.
Click here for the full text of the trade union statement to the G8
Click here for the full text of John Sweeney's opening Statement
Click here for the TUAC Evaluation of the Summit
Burmese forced labour denounced
by fugitive workers at OECD meeting
Two Burmese workers testified at an OECD meeting in June to denounce
slave labour working conditions and brutality by enterprises which were
receiving the support of Burma's military regime.
Invited by the TUAC to the meeting called to discuss implementation
of the OECD's Guidelines on Multinational Enterprises, the two workers
told of forced labour conditions, gruelling physical stress and no proper
food or medical treatment while they worked to build a helicopter strip
near a gas pipeline under construction in Southern Thailand. The project
involved several multinational corporations.
Former fisherman Saw Pe, now living in exile in Thailand, testified
how he humped 50 kilo bags of cement for 13 hours a day during the building
of the landing strip. His compatriot Than Lwin, of the exiled Federation
of Burmese Trade Unions, said slave labour practices in Burma had long
existed for government infrastructure projects, but investment by foreign
multinational companies had worsened the overall situation.
In 1998, an ILO inquiry found that slave labour practices were "systematic
and generalised" in Burma, and the organisation is due to send another
mission to the Asian country in September this year. The two witnesses
who spoke to the OECD committee said in press interviews in Paris that
only economic sanctions against Burma would have any effect in combating
the policies of the Burmese junta which had "no intention of co-operating
seriously with the ILO."
Slovak Unions join TUAC
TUAC General-Secretary John Evans paid a visit to Slovakia on the occasion
of the admission of the Slovak Confederation of Trade Unions (KOZ) into
TUAC on July 1. In addition to holding a series of discussions
on current issues with Slovak ministers and parliamentarians in charge
of economic and social affairs, the TUAC representative also took part
in a special seminar on Slovak, TUAC and OECD relations, held in Bratislava
on July 3 and 4.
The purpose of the seminar, held at KOZ headquarters, was to highlight
the aims and role of the OECD, the significance of Slovak membership of
the organisation, as well as an outline of TUAC activities, and TUAC co-operation
with other international trade union organisations such as the ICFTU and
ETUC as well as the ILO, notably regarding issues of unemployment and social
reform. In his presentation, Evans outlined the key developments
marking the history of OECD, tracing the evolution of the Paris-based organisation
to its present membership of 30 industrialised economies, of which Slovakia
is the most recent member.
Regarding the role of TUAC in relation to OECD, Evans noted the different
major policy phases that had marked the five decades since TUAC was first
linked to OECD. In line with the changing focus of OECD itself,
key issues for TUAC now were questions related to "shaping" globalisation
and international economic governance.
John Evans recalled the view of former TUAC President Bob White that
OECD work in the 1980's and 1990's had been "dominated by the classical
'free market' philosophy", and White's belief that TUAC's role would "become
more central .... now that the radical liberalisation agenda has failed
to build a stable and growing international economy". Evans concluded
by looking forward "to TUAC developing a strong and close relationship
with our new affiliate KOZ-SR".
As a follow-up, it was agreed to cooperate in particular on :
- Employment and economic issues, especially work on the OECD
growth project, social capital and public sector questions;
- Corporate regulation and multinationals, in particular the follow-up
and implementation of revised OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises,
corporate governance and anti-corruption work;
- Reform of pensions and social security.
To read the full text, click here
To read the full text of the TUAC statement, click here
OECD reviews policy challenges for
early childhood education and care
A new OECD publication on Early Childhood Education and Care was
formally presented at an international conference co-organised on June
14 by the OECD, the Swedish Ministry of Education and Science, and the
Swedish National Agency for Education. Opened by Minister Ingegerd
Waernersson, the conference was attended by policy officials, researchers
and practitioners from 50 countries. Delegates discussed its findings,
shared innovative national and local approaches, and explored possible
strategies to address major challenges in the field.
The OECD report "Starting Strong: Early Childhood Education and Care"
provides a comparative analysis of major policy developments and issues
in 12 OECD countries -- Australia, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark,
Finland, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Sweden, the United Kingdom
and the United States. It highlights innovative approaches
and proposes policy options that can be adapted to different national contexts.
click here for full text of review
Unions welcome continued OECD work
to outlaw tax havens
TUAC PRESS RELEASE
(Paris, 29 June, 2001)
The Trade Union Advisory Committee to the OECD (TUAC) has welcomed the
OECD agreement to push ahead with its work to crack down on the harmful
activities of tax havens but has called for it to go further. Speaking
following the decision on June 28 of the OECD to drive forward with the
project, TUAC General Secretary John Evans said, “It is important that
the key elements of this work are going ahead. In a more globalised economy
it is essential that governments show that they have effective ways to
stop international tax evasion. This is an important part of building rules
in the global economy to achieve social justice”.
TUAC will hold a Conference with the OECD in October on the specifics
of the work programme. The unions feel that it essential not to allow the
longer time periods for compliance agreed by the OECD to lead to "foot
dragging". They have also insisted that preferential tax treatment for
overseas multinationals should be removed.
Unions - Follow up on the OECD
Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises
Meeting on Multinationals 31 May – 1 June
Two meetings on multinational enterprises were held, to
feed into the ICFTU’s Millennium Review. The first meeting involved the
TUAC Working Group on Global Trade and Investment, which is focusing on
the OECD Guidelines. The other meeting was a joint ICFTU/ITS/TUAC meeting
to discuss different approaches to multinational enterprises.
New cases being prepared
Affiliates are preparing cases for National Contact Points on the OECD
Guidelines. One of the cases concerns Marks and Spencer’s closure of 38
stores in Europe, which was announced without any prior consultations with
the workers. Other cases are about multinational enterprises’ activities
in Burma. Several companies are suspected of being implicated in forced
Developments in the National Contact Points
The enclosed table summarises
recent developments in the National Contact Points. You can read about
the composition of the various NCP’s and measures to promote and implement
the OECD Guidelines.
TUAC Survey of National Contact Points
TUAC is conducting a survey of the functioning of the NCP’s for all
its affiliates and national centres in Argentina, Brazil and Chile. The
survey served as a trade union input to the first OECD Annual Meeting of
NCP’s on 18 June 2001 where TUAC will be having consultations.
TUAC has started work on a User’s Guide to the OECD Guidelines. The
purpose of the Guide is to help trade unions in using the OECD Guidelines
and in raising cases when companies violate the Guidelines. The Guide will
be distributed to affiliates and trade unions outside the OECD area.
Job tenure situation less simple than often painted,
according to TUAC comment on recent research
There is a commonly-held view, especially on the part of employers,
that the employment relationship in all of the industrialized countries
has been weakened, thus threatening permanent, long-term jobs, and leading
to a rise in non-standard or atypical work arrangements -- such as part-time
work, temporary jobs or time-limited contracts, and independent contractor
and freelance jobs.
Recent research by a number of authors (*) has shown that this view
is an over-simplification and an exaggeration. In fact, with respect
to the long-term employment relationship, job tenure overall has
declined only mildly, with declining job stability for men being moderated
by the influence of longer tenure for women, who are less likely than before
to leave paid employment when they have children.
The findings regarding the U.S., Japan and the European Union in the
1980's and the 1990's are all broadly consistent with earlier experience.
They challenge the popular idea that long-term employment relationships
are a thing of the past. If in the U.S. low average job tenure and
job stability applies to men, it is rising for men and women in Japan,
and is broadly stable for men as well as low though rising for women in
Full Text of TUAC comment available on
TUAC comment on aspects of OECD Growth study concerning
changes brought in through changing
nature of work
The OECD Growth study is right to point out that work within firms must
be reeorganized if the benefits of new technology are to be enhanced and
the potential of human capital fully realized. Many recent studies
show that there is a strong association between the use of ICT and new
work practices such as teamwork, employee participation and flatter management
American research shows clearly, notably in manufacturing, that high
performance work systems in which workers share decision-making responsibility
with managers, deliver improved performance by the plants that adopt them.
The findings show that workers derive several benefits from such approaches:
more interesting work, greater employment security, and a high trust environment
bringing greater job satisfaction.
Other conclusions to emerge include: re-engineering of workplaces introducing
more high performance practices leads to greater productivity; clear
participation in an enterprise's activities by representatives of the unionized
voice also aids productivity; and work practices that transfer power
to employees do not harm the competitiveness of firms -- on the contrary
they enhance it.
Firms that obstinately stick with the "low road" approach of minimal
co-operation with their work forces, an attitude motivated by managerial
fear of power-sharing with workers, will ultimately lose out to enterprises
that apply a "governance system" fostering labour-management harmony and
Full text of TUAC comment available on
TUAC assesses 2001 OECD Ministerial and Forum
The OECD Ministerial Council and the parallel meetings of Environment
Ministers and OECD Forum 2001 on Sustainable Development (May 14 - 17)
were dominated by the attitude of the new US Administration to three issues:-
the launching of a new trade round at the WTO Ministerial in November;
the withdrawal of Administration support for the Kyoto Protocol on climate
change; and the withdrawal of support for the OECD work to outlaw tax havens.
This detracted from a sense of urgency on the immediate economic situation
which continues to deteriorate, the OECD growth project and even broader
discussion on sustainable development.
Nevertheless, TUAC welcomed the fact the communiqué
issued at the conclusion of the meeting restates the 2000 Ministerial meeting
theme of “shaping globalisation”, which is significant in that it is focused
on governance of global markets as opposed to simple deregulation. In addition,
it says that governments are committed to doing this in the “benefit of
all, and ensuring that the poorest are not left behind”
Senior representatives from TUAC affiliate unions were very active in
the course of a substantial trade union participation at the meetings.
The Ministerial meeting TUAC team led by Vice-President Luc Cortebeeck
comprised a dozen members, and some 25 affiliate members were involved
as panellists, discussants, or questioners from the floor in Forum sessions
devoted to issues related to the Forum's central theme of "Sustainable
development and the New Economy".
The TUAC Statement to the meeting was
presented at the social partner consultation session with the Ministers.
The TUAC Vice Chair had the opportunity to make a formal
presentation to the Ministerial Council session on economic growth.
To read the TUAC evaluation of the Ministerial Council click here
OECD makes progress on sustainable development
by including"workplaces, employment
& transition" elements in new strategy
In a series of meetings held at the OECD from 14-17 May, Environment,
Finance and Economy Ministers adopted a work programme on sustainable development,
incorporating elements of certain trade union proposals.
A three-day public forum on sustainable development (OECD Forum 2001)
fed into two separate Ministerial consultations with TUAC, BIAC and NGOs.
One consultation was held with Environment Ministers and another with Finance
& Economy Ministers. A final meeting of both groups resulted in the
adoption by the OECD Council of Ministers of a number of documents outlining
the direction the organisation will take on sustainable development issues
over the next decade and in preparation for Earth Summit II, scheduled
for September 2002.
The TUAC note about the overall outcome of the OECD Council at the Ministerial
level indicates how the meeting was dominated by the issue of the recent
U.S. withdrawal from the Kyoto Protocol. However, the background documents,
which the Council approved (including some which originated from the Environment
Ministers) contained a number of significantly new policy directions, with
respect to the trade union agenda for sustainable development, overall.
Taken together, these documents contain a number of highlights:
Integrating the Social Dimension of Sustainable Development
The OECD commits itself to integrating the social dimension of sustainable
development into economic and environmental plans. This differs from the
approach adopted in 1996 where Ministers merely "recognized" the importance
of the social dimension. For the first time Ministers agreed to a TUAC
proposal for including social impact assessments along with other tools
to facilitate the process of integration, and for the development of "indicators
for the social and environmental interface". The OECD has called on its
members "to review current funding priorities to determine whether sufficient
resources are being devoted to research [on tools and indicators that allow
better integration of …social objectives]". They also agreed to "assess
and address the social implications of environmental policies, in particular
the removal of environmentally harmful subsidies" and to "asses the environmental
and social impacts of trade and investments", including for Export Credit
Understanding Employment Implications, Including for Climate Change
A key tenet of TUAC's interventions was that employment must be recognized
as a cornerstone of sustainable development policies. The Ministers agreed
to "…address actual and potential effects of environmental policies on
employment and income distribution" by "analysing and measuring employment
effects (across sectors and regions) of environmental policies". They also
agreed to place more focus on the employment effects of new technology
and urged governments to sponsor more research to better forecast the benefits
and risks of technology and technology transfers on employment. Environment
Ministers also noted the joint progress of work by TUAC and BIAC to promote
a better understanding of the employment impacts of climate change. Note:
next 12 October OECD plans to host a joint TUAC/BIAC meeting in Paris on
Adopting a Workplace Focus and Promoting Partnerships
For the first time the notion of "workplaces" as a focus of action has
been introduced as part of OECD's environmental strategy. The OECD adopted
text seeking "the active partnership…among stakeholders, for example in
the workplace". The documents do not identify in what specific circumstances
such a focus would be brought to bear on implementation measures. However,
programmes dealing with better uses of natural resources (e.g. energy and
water) or for training and education (relating to agriculture and transport)
would be potential areas for courses of action. Further, the documents
refer to a focus on "workers" as a means of facilitating transition over
production and consumption patterns and recognize the role of "business,
trade unions and other NGOs…as active in policy debates about sustainable
It is a long standing policy of the ICFTU/TUAC/ITS OHSE Working Party
to promote "Just Transition" as a means of planning for sustainable development.
Short of making reference to the terms used by TUAC the OECD Ministers
have agreed to a number of elements contained in our proposals, which should
be understood in connection with the employment implications, reviewed
above. They have agreed to "include policies to facilitate adjustment and
to gain public support for these instruments…" and to address effects by
the "…redeployment of workers affected by these policy reforms, through
labour market measures (e.g. income support, job-search assistance and
retraining)". They have called for more research "…on the social adjustments
likely to arise from policy changes".
With respect to climate change, the Ministers agreed to promote "adaptation
strategies to reduce exposure to risks of climate change and to facilitate
the transition of patterns of living that are less vulnerable to climate
change". With respect to awareness raising they agreed to provide more
information and promote dialogue with communities to "facilitate the transition
to new forms of work and consumption". As for adverse social impacts
(e.g. income distribution and employment in specific industries) due to
resource management policies, implementation should be done, in a way to
facilitate structural adjustment. "When pricing natural resources, provide
direct income support to poorer users rather then cross-subsidies or reduced
fees as a means to achieve social objectives". Finally, in discussing the
management of natural resources, Ministers recognized that "to avoid creating
dependencly on short-term measures, countries need to have programmes in
place that can help people move into more permanent employment elsewhere".
Promoting Public Health
The documents place some focus on public health as a policy focus, especially
for the time leading up to Earth Summit II. References to linking
occupational health issues to public health are virtually non-existent
except with reference to technology development, where TUAC has placed
some focus in the last year on the issues of musculoskeletal disorders
and ergnonomics as impacts from new forms of work and technology. While
recognizing that "…technologies designed specifically to address particular
issues related to pollution, public health or worker safety have not been
immune from [certain consequences], the OECD agreed to "address unintended
environmental and social consequences of technology, by separating technology
promotion responsibilities from those on health, safety and environmental
protection within governments.". There was also agreement to place more
emphasis on research to better understand some of these risks.
TUAC Condemns Korean Government
for illegal jailing of Finance Union Officials,
Demands Immediate Release
Statement, Paris 4 May 2001
TUAC issued a ringing condemnation of the Korean authorities for once
again illegally imprisoning union officials in flagrant disregard of normal
accepted labour rights. Supported by a TUAC Plenary session resolution
passed at the OECD on May 4, the TUAC protest to the Seoul authorities
demanded the immediate release of 26 banking sector workers who received
prison sentences of up to two years on charges of alleged illegal strike
action. The President of the FKTU trade union federation has gone an hunger
strike in protest at the arrests.
The TUAC protest said the Korean action was in flagrant disregard of
normal union rights, and deliberately flouted standard OECD practice
which Korea had pledged to uphold when it joined the Paris-based international
economic organisation in 1996. The TUAC protest also expressed deep
concern at the postponement till 2006 of an earlier commitment to allow
trade union pluralism at workplace level.
To read the Statement click here
Global Unions Progress Group reviews Strategy
towards intergovernmental organisations
The ICFTU Group charged with examining the priorities, strategies and
structures most likely to provide a basis for more effective trade union
action in the context of globalisation, met in Brussels on March 29-30.
The session preceded further discussion in the TUAC Plenary Session to
be held in Paris on May 3-4. Part of the review, known as the
Millennium Review, is looking at the trade union response to the evolving
global economy and TUAC has been asked to bring together an informal reference
group comprising representatives from affiliates, the ICFTU and other organisations
concerned by the issues.
A key trade union policy goal within the overall task of the Millennium
Review is how to increase the overall "voice" of trade unions at the international
and regional institutions that govern the global economy. As requested
by the ICFTU Progress Group, TUAC in coordination with the Workers' Activity
Branch of the ILO undertook a stocktaking of trade union experiences with
regional and international institutions. This report is now
available in draft form. It constitutes a useful summary of the structures
and roles of the main organisations active in shaping international economic
policy, and will be an essential part of international trade union efforts
to take forward a number of labour and employment-related initiatives.
Further information and comments on the draft are welcome.
Click here for further information
TUAC input to OECD Education Ministerial Session
(Paris, 2 - 4 April 2001)
A number of issues brought by TUAC to the attention of Ministers at
the OECD Meeting of Ministers of Education were discussed during the conference
held at OECD headquarters from April 2 to 4. Among them was the need to
strengthen human and social capital as well as social cohesion within OECD
societies. In their final communiqué Ministers invited the OECD
to explore further the relationships between human and social capital and
their contributions to human well-being, sustainable development and economic
growth. They urged OECD to examine how education and training systems could
be adapted to include all learners and to achieve equitable outcomes for
all, while meeting the increasing diversity of learners' needs, maintaining
cultural diversity and improving quality.
Ministers gave particular attention to the need to manage and facilitate
investment in competencies for all - competencies understood to cover knowledge,
skills, attitudes and values on which other learning depends, and the high-level
intellectual and social competencies on which full engagement in the knowledge
society depends. They considered the goal to foster the acquisition of
these competencies as key. However, it was clearly expressed that they
could not achieve it alone. Thus, they expressed their will to work closely
with others, for example government colleagues, non-government organisations,
trade unions, employers and others in the private sector to ensure greater
co-ordination among education, social, economic and other policies.
To read more, click here
Union Proposals aim to Better Focus
the Work of the G8 "Dot Force"
International trade unions have put together a set of proposals with
the aim of improving the focus and scope of the work of the so-called DOT
Force (Digital Opportunities Task Force) set up by the G8 at the Okinawa
Summit. The proposals, jointly agreed by TUAC, ICFTU, UNI, and PSI,
are to be considered ahead of the next DOT Force meeting set for April
23-24 in Siena, Italy. The four union organisations concerned are all members
of the Global Unions Group.
In their proposals the Global Unions group expresses concern that the
DOT Force has so far failed to meet the challenge set in the Okinawa Charter
with regard to integrating all major stakeholders in the project.
The main union criticisms are:
- the DOT Force has not achieved a balance between
business and other stakeholders, especially trade unions as well as other
interested civil society groups;
To read more click here :
- there have been inadequate efforts so far to work towards
bridging the "digital divide" and G8 Governments should take the lead in
bringing their official development aid up to agreed UN levels;
- women must be actively engaged in all initiatives, including
the "digital divide";
- the workplace dimension of the digital divide must be
integrated by incorporating the recommendations of the ILO's 2001 World
Employment Report, and the ILO invited to the next DOT Force meeting.
Solidarity Online: A programme
to promote online inclusion of trade unions in the developing world
The work of the Digital Opportunities
Task Force (Dot Force)
Unions urge G8 Consultations before
July Genoa Summit
The Italian trade union organisations (CGIL, CISL, UIL) have proposed
the holding of a special consultation session with the Italian Premier
and other government representatives of G8 countries on the eve of the
Genoa Summit due to be held from July 20 to 22.
TUAC has also asked affiliates in G8 countries "to be in touch with
their governments to support such a procedure, which would allow a dialogue
with the G8 Government representatives as a whole and not just the host".
For their part, three Italian trade union confederations have had
a series of meetings with the Italian officials organising the Summit in
order to raise the profile of the pre-Summit trade union consultations.
The Italian unions are also holding discussions with other G8 affiliates
and international organisations regarding issues to be presented in a number
of related events in Genoa on 18 - 19 July.
G8 environment ministers take up
social and employment issues
(Trieste, Italy, 2-4 March, 2001)
G8 Environment Ministers concluded their meeting in Trieste, Italy by
strengthening their resolve to address climate change and sustainable development
issues, along the lines recommended by trade unions and NGOs, which participated
in a special consultation, held prior to the Ministerial meeting.
"We recognize", concluded the Ministers, "that a firm consensus for
action on climate change is needed and that all sectors of society
must be called upon to play their part in implementing change", further
adding that "Addressing social and employment issues is a matter of fundamental
importance to promoting consensus".
In discussing preparations for RIO+10 the Ministers urged the "engagement
of civil society", including, among others, "workers and business organisations",
as critical for "the implementation and monitoring" of its outcome. Ministers
also adopted a text proposed by trade unions and emphasised "the need to
integrate environmental, social and economic policy, including through
the elaboration and formulation of national sustainable development strategies."
The G8 consultation took place with trade unions, business and non-governmental
organisations. ICFTU and TUAC joined representatives from the national
trade union centres in Italy - CGIL, CISL, and UIL, along with their NGO
counterparts - to press for stronger resolve for action over climate change
and sustainable development issues. The Business Advisory Committee to
the OECD (BIAC) and International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) also participated
in the special two hour dialogue with the Ministers.
Ministers also discussed environment and health issues (water, sanitation,
air quality, food safety and chemicals management) and the actions required
to help groups that are particularly vulnerable to poverty. They stressed
the importance of promoting the OECD Guidelines on Multinationals, as well
as developing environmental guidelines for Export Credit Agencies.
The Ministers from Canada, Germany, France, Italy, Japan, United Kingdom,
United States, and the EU, touched upon some of the major issues brought
forward by civil society representatives at the meeting and they called
on their involvement in the process leading up to Rio+10.
The Consultation was spearheaded by the Italian trade union centres,
working closely with their national counterparts.
The adoption of "social and employment issues" as a focus for G8 Ministers,
is significant for trade union work on climate change and sustainable development.
Trade union activities at COP6 flowed from a prior meeting at the OECD
in Paris between TUAC and BIAC, in which business and trade unions pledged
to work together on employment and climate change. The COP6 meeting resolved
to jointly push for more cooperation for research with the ILO and OECD,
the European Union, as well as with national governments, academia and
BIAC and TUAC plan to organise a follow up meeting at the OECD, prior
to COP7 and had agreed to jointly push for employment issues to be addressed
by G8 Ministers in Trieste.
To read more click here
TUAC calls for involvement of employees
and communities at Global Forum
(Naples, Italy, 15 - 17 March 2001)
TUAC took part in a workshop devoted to Change and Knowledge Management
held as part of the Third Global Forum on "Fostering Democracy and Development
through e-Government", organised by the Italian Government in Naples from
15 to 17 March.
The session discussed how the technical changes associated with the
implementation of e-government could be accompanied by a change in management
strategy to "bring people along with the change". The ability of
civil servants to understand the purpose of new technologies and their
role in achieving successful reforms were seen as crucial. Governments
needed to help workers to learn a culture of increased adaptability
and information sharing, while also creating incentives to keep pace with
the evolving information society.
TUAC argued that in the "new economy" redundancies have, unfortunately,
been a far from rare part of the dot com story, and the accelerating pace
of change plus mounting work pressure are causing increasing anxiety and
insecurity. In addressing the workshop, John Evans said "this is
not a good foundation for a high performance economy." He concluded his
session presentation: "E-commerce clearly has great potential for countries
everywhere. Unions can counterbalance the centrifugal forces created by
globalisation and technological change in a way that individuals cannot.
Like businesses, they have to evolve with the times. But, as with
businesses, the basic ground rules remain the same." TUAC also argued for
effective strategies to be put in place to bridge the "digital divide".
Trade Union Input to OECD Meeting
on Trade and Labour Standards
(OECD, Paris, 8-9 March 2001)
The "Global Forum for Trade" set up by OECD for trade policy issue discussions
involving OECD and non-Member countries held its first meeting on 8-9 March,
devoted to "Trade policy issues: the Labour, Environmental and Competition
dimensions". In co-operation with the ICFTU, TUAC arranged for the
participation of several trade union speakers from non-OECD countries as
part of the trade union delegation to the meeting.
The following were among the issues reviewed by participants:
- Linkages between core labour standards, trade, foreign
direct investment, development and employment;
- Replication and adaptation possibilities for promoting
core labour standards from existing regional and national agreements;
- Panel discussion on compliance with core labour standards,
followed by an exchange of views on forward-looking perspectives in this
field, including the role of international organisations and voluntary
- A review of recent OECD work on trade policy linkages,
notably as they affect competition and environment questions.
Papers and conclusions will shortly be available on the OECD website.
JANUARY - FEBRUARY 2001
OECD Emerging Market Economy Forum
on Electronic Commerce held in Dubai
(Dubai, 15 - 17 January 2001)
Roland Schneider took part on behalf of TUAC in an international forum
on electronic commerce and the use of Information and Communications Technology
(ICT) with emerging and developing countries, held in mid-January in the
Gulf state of Dubai. The main objective of the conference was
to review developments in a number of areas relevant to electronic commerce,
including security, privacy, content, taxation, pricing, standards and
intellectual property rights. The issue of digital divides, within and
between countries, was also discussed. According to the views expressed
by business and by governments at the conference, in order to bridge the
digital divide and to create digital opportunities, it was necessary
to enhance access for all to information technology and the internet, building
on on-going market infrastructure development. A business representative
summarised the recipe to overcome the split between the digital have's
and have not's in three simple words: "liberalise, liberalise, liberalise".
However, the digital divide is not just technical, nor is it primarily
about access and computers. It is caused by a broader set of societal
and economic issues. This was emphasised by TUAC. Schneider stressed
that the roots of the digital divide have long existed, and were traditionally
known as poverty, oppression, racism and discrimination. Computers
have not created a new social evil, but have exacerbated existing ones.
He warned against hoping that deregulated, liberalised markets for telecommunications
services, on-going price-decreases of IT equipment and private sector initiatives
alone would suffice to narrow the divide substantially. "Efforts
to exploit the digital divide simply for the benefit of corporate welfare
will fail," he said. Instead he called for a broader set of policies
and actions set in an overall framework of sustainable development, giving
particular attention to education and training as well as to the provision
of local or indigenous content. Finally, he urged participating government
representatives not only to involve businesses and the private sector organisations
in policy initiatives intended to bridge the divide, but to include trade
unions in the efforts also.
TUAC calls for response to social issues
within Digital Challenge
In an article on "Digital workplaces, unions and trust", published in
a recent issue of the OECD Observer, TUAC General Secretary John Evans
warns that social protection and representation are as important in the
New Economy as they have been in the Old Economy. Workers have
played a key role in the development of the on-line economy, but they can
also be its victims. "The accelerating pace of change and mounting
work pressure are causing anxiety and insecurity", he writes.
Emphasising the urgency of leaving behind the "simplistic notion of
'labour market flexibility', where workers are expected to give up social
protection, decent wages or job security," Evans says organised labour
must ensure that "economic policies translate potential productivity increases
into real social and economic gains". Recalling that e-commerce clearly
has "great potential" for countries everywhere, he says "unions can counterbalance
centrifugal forces created by globalisation and technological forces in
a way individuals cannot."
To read the article click here
Management and Trade Union Meeting
on Firms, Workers and the Changing Workplace
in the New Economy
(OECD, Paris 23rd February 2001)
TUAC and business representatives, with OECD and Member Government participants,
are taking part in a meeting at OECD on "Firms, Workers and the Changing
Workplace: Considerations for the Old and the New Economy". Organised
in the context of the Labour/Management Programme the session is being
held at OECD on 23rd February 2001. The rapporteur of the meeting will
be Robert Taylor, Employment Editor of the Financial Times.
The meeting is intended:
- (a) to encourage dialogue among business and trade unions on new
facts about economic growth, notably opportunities raised by the new economy,
especially the role of information and communications technology;
- (b) to discuss changes and challenges in the area of labour and employment
brought about by the new economy, and
- (c) to stimulate dialogue on the policies and institutions that can
help to increase the benefits of the process and reduce social costs.
Information and communication technologies: Implementation
strategies have so far failed
to improve the quality of work
The assumption that working conditions are automatically improving due
to the transition towards the information economy has turned out to be
unfounded so far. The current reality for most people at work is a striking
disparity between the potential of new information and communication technologies
(ICT) to improve working conditions and an ongoing intensification of the
actual work. The failure to further improve the quality of work in the
emerging information economy will have serious implications for health,
productivity and the ability to innovate. In order to maintain and strengthen
the readiness of workers to cope with the challenges of new technologies
in a globalised information economy, policies must be put in place to ensure
that employees are given the opportunity to experience a substantial improvement
in the quality of work. This applies in particular to new forms of work
organisation offering a broader work experience based on a skill-upgrade
as well as work, which is adjusted to the needs of family and personal
life. Moreover, it is important to note in this regard that almost no aspect
of the quality of work is predetermined by ICT and that not all ways of
implementing ICT are equally effective. In finalizing the current work
of its Growth Project the OECD must take this into account.
These messages emerge from the World
Employment Report released by the ILO and from the first
findings of the Third
European Survey on Working Conditions, conducted by the European
Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions, a
Dublin-based European agency. In a survey, carried out in 2000, the European
Foundation questioned more than 21 000 workers on their working conditions
in face-to-face interviews. More than two fifths of the persons interviewed
were working with computers (43%).
According to the findings, the portion of workers exposed to stressful
physical environments (noise, polluted air, heat, cold, vibrations), carrying
heavy loads and working in painful and tiring positions, has slightly increased.
The same applies to the intensity of work and the pace of work. More than
half of the workers surveyed report working at high speed (56%) and to
tight deadlines during at least one quarter of their working time.
It is also disappointing that there was no increase in the share of
workers having control over their own pace of work or of those with personal
control over their work methods as compared to earlier surveys. Also striking
is the fact that repetitive work is still widespread and remains stable.
As in 1995 almost three out of five workers reported on repetitive tasks
at work (57%), one third of them on a permanent basis. Taken altogether,
it is not encouraging to realise that large numbers of workers complain
of stress, burn-out and blurring boundaries between work and leisure, the
latter caused in particular by fluctuating work schedules and increasing
"Round the clock" work.
NOVEMBER - DECEMBER 2000
TUAC welcomes outcome of G8 Labour
(Turin, 10 - 11 November 2000)
After contributing trade union input to the G8 Labour Ministers' Conference
held in Turin on 10 and 11 November, TUAC welcomed the concluding Statement
issued at the close of the deliberations. The ministers also adopted a
on active ageing. In particular it highlighted as positive the following
- The consolidation of favourable world economic
prospects made it essential that Governments maintained a stable and growth-oriented
framework through the use of the right macroeconomic tools to set the climate
for growth and prosperity;
The G8 Labour Ministers, in their statement, stressed the need to incorporate
social protection provisions and core labour standards in the permanent
policy dialogue notably in the context of co-operation between the ILO
and the international financial institutions and the WTO. The Ministers
also urged governments to pursue "active ageing" policies to utilise the
potential for increased labour force participation among older workers.
These involved a range of policies affecting lifelong learning, measures
to prevent the emergence of a "digital divide", and ways of raising participation
rates, as well as pension and welfare adjustments to promote active participation
and improve income support.
- With a skilled and adaptable workforce as a key element,
full employment in a knowledge-based society remained the overarching socio-economic
goal, linked to structural reforms to the labour, capital and product markets;
- The interrelated nature of social and economic goals meant
that economic and social policies needed more than ever to be designed
- Engaging business and labour in developing a highly-skilled
labour force was seen as key to supporting the growth of productive employment
opportunities and to attaining sustained employment growth;
- The need to put into effect new forms of work arrangements
should be balanced by governments, trade unions and employers working together
to ensure that new flexible work arrangements are linked with security,
equal access to work training and career development for employees, in
a context of family-friendly policies and the work-life balance.
Click here for the full text of the
trade union Submission to the Turin meeting
Trade unions and business set basis for combined action
on climate change
(The Hague, 23 November 2000)
Disturbed by the failure of the Hague climate Conference, representatives
of trade unions and business at the Climate Change Conference in the Hague
pledged to work together to obtain official recognition by Governments
of employment and social implications of climate change or measures to
mitigate its effects. ICFTU, TUAC and ETUC representatives were among
those who emphasised that full support for the implementation of climate
change measures was dependent on official recognition of the employment
impacts of such measures, and the taking of appropriate transition steps.
BIAC and TUAC/ICFTU, the two major parties to the agreement, issued
statements at the Hague meeting to draw in official international bodies
such as the European Union as well as national governments and academic
institutions in an effort to produce a comprehensive and long-term research
programme devoted to social and employment equity.
TUAC Plenary session held at OECD headquarters
(Paris, 16-17 November 2000)
The TUAC's plenary session, held for the first time under the chairmanship
of AFL-CIO President John Sweeney, met at OECD headquarters on 16 and 17
November. Among the prominent items were:
- a review of recent developments affecting labour rights in
- a wide-ranging discussion on current issues in the fields of globalisation,
trade, investment, and labour standards,
- follow-up to two G8 meetings in 2000 (the July Okinawa summit, and
the November meeting of Labour ministers in Turin),
- TUAC's contribution to the OECD Growth Project (regarding the new
economy and related changes in work organisation, performance and investment,
- TUAC's involvement in the international trade union "Millennium Review"
which is being coordinated by the ICFTU. TUAC is particularly involved
in two parts of the Review, "tackling the power of the multinationals"
and "global economy and development".
The TUAC met with the OECD Liaison Committee to discuss the need
for social rules in the global market place. Click here for
TUAC Working group on Education,
Training and Employment policy
The TUAC Group on Education, Training and Employment policy met in Paris
on 21 November 2000. The Group notably discussed the preparation
of TUAC input to the forthcoming meeting of the OECD Education Committee
at Ministerial level, due to take place on 2 - 4 April, 2001. When
OECD Education Ministers met in 1996 they adopted the goal of "lifelong
learning for all". Today the emphasis has shifted to "competences
for all" , especially under the pressures of fast-evolving information
and communications technology in a context marked by learning having taken
over the focus from teaching.
The meeting was followed on November 22 by a session of Management and
Trade Union experts discussing Human Resources in the new economy: Challenges
and Opportunities for Education and Training. This session also provided
a useful contribution to the body of work being fed into the forthcoming
meeting of OECD Education Ministers.
Trade union participants in outreach meeting
with non-OECD Countries
on the Multinational Enterprise Guidelines
(Paris, 12 December 2000)
TUAC representatives and trade unionists from non-OECD countries were
scheduled to take part in an OECD Outreach Meeting with non-Member countries
on the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, which were comprehensively
revised in the Spring of 2000. The revision,
agreed by 29 OECD Members as well as by non-Members Argentina, Brazil,
Chile and the Slovak Republic (which has since become a Member of OECD),
involved closer consultations with BIAC and TUAC than those that took place
during the preparation of the previous guidelines adopted in 1991.
The outreach meeting will be followed on the morning of 13 December
by a consultation on the Guidelines between the OECD, TUAC, BIAC and a
number of NGOs.
The New Global Financial Architecture: TUAC contribution
to a Bundestag Study Commission report
In line with its involvement in international efforts to work towards
a new global financial architecture, TUAC met a request for trade union
comments to a Bundestag Study Commission on "Globalisation of the World
Economy". The TUAC response notably highlighted unbridled financial
liberalisation and destabilising financial inflows and outflows as
among the key causes of the major Asian financial crisis in 1997-1998.
Additional concern was felt in the fact that capital flight gave crisis-hit
countries no alternative to having to accept draconian emergency lending
terms from the IMF.
The TUAC submission to the Bundestag listed the following measures as
capable of inducing better regulation of international financial markets:
- Improved fiscal and monetary policy coordination
between the key currency blocs of the dollar, the yen and the euro;
To read the submission click here
- Recognition of the right of states to control short-term
foreign capital in- and outflows in the interest of domestic macroeconomic
- Binding international standards for prudential regulation
of financial markets, notably to rein in short-term foreign currency exposure,
risky derivatives trading and credit-heavy leverage operations;
- Institution of transparent banking systems, bound
by effective disclosure criteria;
- Improved information on currency flows, private
debts and reserves;
- Detailed examination of the implementation
of an international tax on foreign exchange transactions.
International Labour Movement
Agrees Strategic Approach
To Implement The
OECD Guidelines For Multinational Enterprises
The TUAC Working Group on International Trade and Investment met in
Paris on 20 September. For TUAC affiliates, the ICFTU, ITSs and the ETUC
it was the first opportunity to discuss recent developments relating to
the revised Guidelines, since their endorsement on June 27 2000 by the
OECD Ministerial Council. Many TUAC affiliates reported notable signs of
national level activity by National Contact Points (NCPs), including their
reactivation, and new or more developed tripartite structures. The attached
schematic diagram (click here)
summarises recent national and international developments concerning the
Participants discussed the development of a strategic trade union approach
to implementing the Guidelines. It was agreed that there could be no “blueprint”
for action, rather activities should be organised according to differing
national circumstances, based around a co-operative approach between the
TUAC, ICFTU, ETUC, ITSs and their affiliates, whether at the national or
international levels. Broad agreement was reached that the Guidelines could
play a role to stimulate trade union dialogue with MNEs, which could lead
among other things to ITS/MNE framework agreements. At the same time Guidelines
cases could be brought forward to NCPs. Further discussions were held on
a range of related issues, including how to involve trade unions in non-OECD
countries, and possible joint campaigning with NGOs on Guidelines issues.
The attached (click here)
summary report of the meeting by the TUAC Secretariat covers these issues
Labour and Human Rights Groups Press Nobel Peace Prize
Winner Kim to improve South Korea's Record
(Seoul, 13 October)
International labour and human rights groups are putting stronger pressure
on the Korean government to improve its human rights record especially
as regards its treatment of trade unions. The international pressure comes
in the wake of the Nobel Peace Prize being awarded to Korean President
Kim Dae-Jung on the eve of an Asia-Europe summit taking place this week
Trade unions have accused the South Korean government of failing to
honour commitments regarding rights for labour unions and of attacking
workers' groups. Strong criticism came from international union leaders
at a seminar last weekend in Seoul. TUAC General Secretary John Evans drew
attention to the fact that social progress in South Korea had not kept
pace with the country's economic resurgence. In a press statement he said:
"Trade unionists are still harassed or imprisoned for activities considered
legitimate in other OECD countries." He added : " There is still
some kind of control mentality on the part of the government and there
is an urgent need to stop considering trade unionism as a criminal activity."
The Seoul seminar was organised by TUAC in conjunction with the Brussels-based
ICFTU, which has 216 affiliate unions around the world, FES (Friedrich
Ebert Foundation) and South Korea's two main union federations, the FKTU
an KCTU. An ICFTU report questioned the record of South Korean President
Kim Dae-Jung who was awarded the Nobel peace prize on October 13.
It said that in 1998, the first year in office of the Kim administration,
209 unionists were arrested, imprisoned or sought by the police. This number
of arrests was higher than in any year under the previous South Korean
government. Other international groups taking part in the efforts to pressure
the Kim administration to implement promise reforms include Amnesty
International and Human Rights Watch.
For further information on the ICFTU report, click here
Tackling poverty and social exclusion
(London, 9-10 Oct 2000)
Inequality has grown in OECD countries over the past two decades, and
persistent poverty and social exclusion have come to affect new population
groups, notably single parent families. Also job insecurity and corporate
restructuring have resulted in much wider groups of workers being
touched by poverty. Furthermore, the "new economy" is adding a digital
divide to the existing social divide.
These were among the main concerns raised by TUAC in a contribution
to the OECD Ministers' Conference on Best Practice in tackling Poverty
and Social Exclusion, held in London on October 9 and 10. The
TUAC discussion paper presented by General Secretary John Evans emphasised
that the challenge of reducing social exclusion could only be met if economic
policies and the actions of the social partners were geared to achieving
and maintaining full employment. Social policies must be seen as an investment
and not simply as a drain on public expenditure.
The TUAC presentation emphasised a number of other points, in particular:
Active labour market policies are preferable to meek acceptance of
unemployment, but the goal is to get people out of poverty not out of welfare;
Individual counselling, assistance and training are essential accompanying
measures for workers in new jobs, and career ladders must be created for
Increases in minimum wages in many countries are needed, combined with
well targeted in-work benefits and programmes;
"Family-friendly" policies, including improved child care provisions, have
to be seen as a social investment;
Trade unions are key stakeholders, ready to work in partnership with governments
and employers to reduce social exclusion.
To read the full text click here
Business and Trade Unions agree
on Common Approaches to Climate Change
(OECD, Paris, 2 October 2000)
At their first ever international meeting on climate change, held at
the OECD on October 2, business and trade union representatives agreed
to take common approaches to deal with employment impacts, and pledged
to promote more effective implementation of international climate agreements.
Some 25 trade union representatives from throughout the world met an
equal number from business to seek common ground over sustainable growth
policies, employment and social transition impacts of climate change and
the role of voluntary approaches in implementing targets. Representatives
of the OECD, ILO, IEA, UNFCCC and NGO's took part in the discussions.
Delegates from 13 OECD Governments were also present.
TUAC General Secretary John Evans commented: "The meeting was significant
because agreement was reached between business and labour that the employment
and social implications of climate change must be addressed." The
representatives agreed to press for more cooperation between the ILO, OECD
and the European Union, and to urge them to set aside resources for research
to assess employment and social impacts.
While trade unions highlighted the need for common workplace approaches
to implement targets and improve efficiency, business accepted that voluntary
approaches should become more transparent and involve partners in designing
and implementing them. The meeting paves the way for more focused
discussions by both parties at future international negotiations of the
Climate Change Convention, notably the next round scheduled in the Hague
at the end of November.
TUAC Economic Policy Working Group hones Statement
for November G8 Jobs Conference in Turin
TUAC's Working Group on Economic Policy met at the OECD in Paris on
October 11 and 12 to review the current economic situation, and to discuss
G8 issues in preparing trade union input and a statement for the
forthcoming G8 Labour Ministers' Conference in Turin. The agenda
also took in reviews of ongoing TUAC work on structural unemployment, international
financial architecture questions, and a round table discussion on the OECD's
New Economy/Growth project.
Discussion under the first agenda item focused on an assessment of employment
and growth prospects in discussion with OECD chief economist Ignazio Visco,
whose department is currently working on the end-of-year OECD Economic
Outlook, and participants also reviewed oil price developments.
The second main agenda item concerned the trade union input to the G8 Employment
Conference scheduled for 9-11 November in Turin, and the group finalised
a draft trade union statement to the conference. This
statement focused on the following three main issues:
(1) There is an opportunity to continue to reduce unemployment
with the aim of achieving full employment if faster growth can be sustained,
provided the macroeconomic situation can be kept on track;
(2) Following the post-Okinawa summit creation of a "dot com force",
there is a need for a more developed policy response to the labour and
social implications, particularly action to prevent a "digital divide"
being added to the current social divide;
(3) Public concern is rising in G8 countries and further afield
over the detrimental side-effects that globalisation based on simple deregulation
of markets will bring, whilst at the same time very little is done to assist
the large majority of the world's population still trapped in poverty.
Informal Consultations between the OECD Trade Committee
(OECD Paris, 23 October)
The informal consultations on 23 October between the OECD Trade Committee
and NGOs focus on "Future challenges for the multilateral trading
system". The need for a broader engagement with civil society on trade
issues was recognised by Ministers in the 2000 OECD Ministerial Council
meeting as one of the lessons to be drawn from Seattle. One way of
promoting this dialogue is to share with a wider audience the trade policy
work that OECD has concluded, as well as work now in progress.
This second round of consultations follows the inaugural round held
in October 1999. when a number of NGOs emphasised that trade liberalisation
was not a goal in itself , but rather a means to achieve sustainable development.
The OECD Ministerial communiqué in June 2000 recognised the need
to build consensus for a new round of multilateral trade negotiations.
Central to the success of such consensus-building will be agreement on
how labour and environmental issues are to be addressed.
Traditional Macroeconomic Policy
is still Key to Jobs
Are innovation and new technology, the so-called "new economy", largely
responsible for the recent growth in employment in the United States, widely
regarded as the world's most dynamic economy? The answer is
"no", according to an important new study "The State of Working America"
produced by the Economic Policy Institute
in Washington, and published by the Cornell University Press.
Writing in "The Guardian", John Schmitt, one of the authors of this
highly readable and informative 444-page report, comments: "Advocates of
the US model argue there's nothing about high unemployment in Europe that
a good dose of US-style labour-market flexibility couldn't remedy.
The US economic recovery since 1996, however, has provided remarkably little
support for this diagnosis. The data show that the real secret is
old-fashioned macroeconomic policy."
Robert Taylor, labour editor of the Financial Times, writes of the Washington
report: "Are we going back to the future in the world of work? The
remarkable return of the full-time regular permanent job in the US since
1995 is a direct result of the return of full employment." He says
the report should be required reading for all recruitment companies aand
human resource managers, noting the following points:
- a sustained increase in aggregate demand, steady economic growth
and impressive productivity improvement have all combined to strengthen
workers' bargaining power and brought a return to the standardised job;
- the groups in greatest demand in IT were indeed those with new
skills, but they were managers and sales workers, which suggests that the
conventional wisdom of ever-accelerating technology-driven growth in demand
for skill is false;
- a new distribution of jobs accross occupations will require
an annual growth of 0.7 per cent in average schooling years, but "the occupational
shifts are not expected to generate a large growth in the demand for education,
at least by historical standards";
- the US jobs machine is widely regarded as a wonder of the modern
world, but the EPI report adjusts the perception to some extent -- "the
US employs a greater share of its working age population than any other
western market economy...... yet in the 1990s Ireland, New Zealand, the
Netherlands, Australia and Norway all created proportionately more jobs
than the US, even though these countries have different kinds of social
regulation of labour", writes Robert Taylor.
TUAC gives mixed reaction
to Okinawa G8 Summit outcome
Billed by the host government of Japan as a meeting to focus mainly
on development issues and information technology, the Okinawa G8 summit
agred a new Charter on IT but failed to produce a break through on debt
A TUAC evaluation of the summit notes that the final communiqué
set targets for health and education improvements in developing countries
and announced efforts to implement the 1999 Cologne G8 agreement on debt
relief for the poorest countries. Failure to deliver on past promises
and the lack of any commitment of new resources, however, meant that
the targets were greeted with scepticism.
The summit agreed on an "Okinawa Charter on the Global Information Society"
which now takes account of pressure exerted by TUAC affiliates. It
now also emphasises social issues and calls for a "partnership approach"
by government, the private sector and civil society to avoid the emergence
of a "digital divide" within and between countries. In
pre-summit consultations with Japanese premier Mori, trade union delegates
stressed six objectives for the meeting:
- A significant breakthrough on debt relief and poverty
- A summit message for global sustained growth with
the aim of achieving full employment;
- A clear commitment to guarantee core labour rights;
- A socially-balanced approach to the introduction
and development of information technology;
- A commitment to participatory strategies and trade
- A wide public debate on reform of the financial
TUAC's overall assessment is that while the final communiqué
reflects the above concerns and repeatedly urges the need to reduce world
poverty, there is a lack of clarity as to how objectives are to be achieved
in practice and how they are to be financed.
To read the TUAC Evaluation, click here
UN Global Compact to enhance dialogue
between MNE's, Unions and NGO's
World union leaders have welcomed the UN Global Compact as offering
a further opportunity for global dialogue between MNE's, unions and NGO's,
but they say it cannot replace binding rules to regulate the behaviour
of multinational companies. The endorsement came at a high-level
meeting convened by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on July 26, bringing
together leading figures from MNE's, international union organisations
and NGO's, as well as heads of UN agencies concerned by the issues.
TUAC General Secretary John Evans, also representing the ICFTU, said
of the UN gathering: "The Compact should enhance rather than undermine
the role of governments in ensuring that effective rules are put in place
and implemented. It should help to create a space for dialogue and
the forging of partnerships between business and labour, with the aim of
promoting corporate social responsibility." Union leaders stressed the
importance of public scrutiny of company compliance with principles such
as the recently revised OECD Guidelines on Multinational Enterprises (MNE's),
agreed after a process of extensive consultations in which TUAC payed an
active part. Respect for the rules of accountability and transparency
was seen as particularly necessary.
A number of union leaders underlined the need for employer recognition
of union rights to freedom of association, seen as a vital element in ensuring
successful partnership and commitment which would be almost non-existent
in situations where unions were weak or not allowed to organise.
Business leaders welcomed the Global Compact as a timely initiative, and
expressed willingness to establish and strengthen partnerships with trade
unions and NGO's in giving effect to the nine principles of the Compact.
Click here for complete text
OECD Ministerial begins to set out rules
for "Shaping Globalisation "
The Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises and the OECD Report on
harmful tax competition and tax havens agreed at this year's OECD
Ministerial Council (26-27 June) are two examples of the rules that the
OECD is beginning to draw up to "shape globalisation". The Ministerial
Communiqué also reflected TUAC's call for a return of the "full
This followed increased input by a high level trade union delegation
at this year's meeting. The delegation met with the OECD Ministers on the
eve of the Ministerial Meeting on 25 June and, for the fist time made a
presentation to the full Ministerial Session meeting on 26 June and to
the Guidelines Session on 27 June.
The OECD Communiqué is available on the OECD web site:
To read the TUAC Evaluation, click here
OECD adopts revised Guidelines
for Multinational Enterprises
The Trade Union Advisory Committee to OECD (TUAC) says that the revitalised
Guidelines for Multinationals that were adopted, on 27 June 2000, by OECD
countries plus Argentine, Brazil, Chile and the Slovak Republic could become
an effective tool for trade unions seeking to improve and strengthen labour
standards and the occupational health, safety and environment practices
as well as other key standards of the world's largest corporations.
TUAC has been involved in the evolution of the OECD Guidelines since
1976 and was involved in a recent round of negotiations to update them,
along with business, NGO's and OECD member countries.
"What distinguishes these Guidelines from the past" says TUAC General
Secretary, John Evans, "is that, for the first time, a set of implementation
procedures have been adopted". The new Guidelines deal with disclosure
and performance rules for multinationals related to employment and industrial
relations (including occupational health & safety), environment, bribery,
consumer interests, science & technology, as well as competition and
taxation. They also contain procedures for Governments to promote and implement
TUAC welcomed the OECD agreement, saying it is a recognition that the
business as usual approach to globalisation has failed, and that there
is a need to establish new global rules covering labour, social, environmental
and other issues.
However Evans warns that the real work on the Guidelines is only beginning.
"Governments have to commit themselves to working with trade unions at
the national and international levels" he says, "so as to ensure that the
Guidelines are implemented and enforced in practice". He said that the
Guidelines would be part of a process for governments to set rules for
corporations over a broad range of standards.
"We will be working to expose companies and national contact points
that flout the Guidelines" warned Evans, saying that TUAC would "work with
governments, businesses and NGOs that share our commitment to making the
"We will use the new and expanded implementation procedures of the Guidelines
to hold multinationals to a high standard of conduct wherever they operate"
he concluded. The Guidelines centre on governments establishing national
contact points which would resolve cases and make public their recommendations
The OECD Guidelines are available on the OECD Website : http://www.oecd.org/daf/investment/guidelines/
To read the TUAC Statement to the OECD Ministerial Session on the Guidelines,
TUAC protests at police violence
against Korean workers
TUAC has added its voice to the growing international protest directed
at the Korean authorities regarding violent action by Korean police against
hotel workers staging peaceful demonstrations in support of their claims
against their employer, the Lotte hotel in Seoul.
TUAC informed OECD Secretary-general Donald Johnston that the international
labour movement "is deeply concerned at the renewed police violence and
repression of members of our Korean affiliate, the KCTU". The note
to the OECD head cited violent action by police on June 30, which resulted
in scores of injuries to workers, aand numerous arrests, followed by further
police violence on July 12. The TUAC note reports that KCTU
President Dan Byung-ho was arrested and badly treated in a wave of aggression
by police carrying out a "quite shocking humiliation of striking workers".
Noting the great concern in the international labour movement, the TUAC
note to the OECD comments on the fragility of progress in labour law reform
and practice in Korea. It reafffirms the importance of the OECD Council
decision in May to continue the special monitoring process on Korean Labour
law reform, and urges OECD's top official to use his good offices to bring
about an end to the violence and move to a negotiated settlement in the
Information on this strike is available on the KCTU web-site at http://www.nodong.org/english/index.htm.
In a separate dispute in the financial sector the FKTU trade union has
negotiated a settlement which has been welcomed by TUAC and the international
Japanese Prime Minister, Mr. Yoshiro Mori
Stresses Need For Trade Union Co-operation Over
Okinawa G8 Agenda
Tokyo, 5 July
Leaders of the G8 trade union national centres met 5 July 2000 with
the Japanese Prime Minister Mr. Yoshiro Mori, host of the July 2000 Okinawa
G8 Summit of Heads of State and presented a Trade
Union Statement to the G8 prepared by TUAC. The meeting at which Mr.
Mori was accompanied by his Labour Minister, Mr. Yoshio Yoshikawa, and
key government officials, was the Prime Minister's first official engagement
since his re-election by the Diet the previous day.
Etsuya Washio, RENGO President and host of the trade union delegation,
in his welcoming remarks called on the Prime Minister to push fellow G8
leaders at Okinawa to adopt the agenda as set out in the trade union statement.
In response the Prime Minister set out his hopes for the Okinawa Summit,
including that Heads of State would discuss: global economic management,
including reforms to the international financial system; an information
technology (IT) Charter; and development and poverty reduction. Government
co-operation on these policy issues was needed, but to be fruitful the
support and co-operation of the labour and business community was also
needed. Going further he said that he had considered the trade union statement
to the Summit meeting and wanted to actively use it during the discussions.
John Sweeney, President of the AFL-CIO, and
TUAC thanked Mr. Mori for his comments on government – labour co-operation
, and then set out the main messages contained in the trade union statement
to the Summit. He was followed by Bill Jordan, ICFTU General Secretary
who stressed the need for a coherent multilateral response to meet the
increasing public concerns around the failings of the global trade and
investment system. Dieter Schulte, President of the DGB called on the Okinawa
Summit to send a message to Finance Ministers and Central Banks not to
turn the taps off on economic and employment growth by unnecessary interest
rate hikes. In turn Rodney Bickerstaffe, representing the TUC lamented
the lack of progress on debt relief, especially that by G8 governments
who had failed to live up to their commitments made at the 1999 Cologne
Summit meeting. Guglielmo Epifani, Deputy General Secretary of the CGIL
said that for any Okinawa IT Charter to have any life beyond the Summit
it had to include a social dimension and an agenda for giving workers,
through their trade unions a voice in, among other things the implementation
of information technology (IT). Ken Georgetti, President of the CLC concluded
for the trade union side by setting out a range of required policy initiatives
around sustainable development, including how to re-gain the public’s trust
for biotechnology and food safety issues.
In response Prime Minister Mori said that economic recovery and job
creation in Japan was a necessary precondition for global stability. He
recognised that the widening information gap across countries risked giving
rise to a ‘digital divide’, and further recognised that the G8 had a responsibility
to address that. On debt relief he stated that commitments made at Cologne
should be implemented as swiftly as possible, and requested the views of
civil society on achieving that. Regarding reform of the financial market
architecture he said that foreign exchange market stability was needed
for overall financial stability, and that ways had to be worked out on
how to stabilise short-run capital flows. On that he wanted the G8 to deepen
its understanding. When discussing sustainable development, food safety
and GMOs he wanted to deepen the discussions, including that as regards
health impacts. Turning to what he termed “peace and social justice” in
the world he stated that reforms to strengthen the UN system were required.
Prior to the meeting with the Prime Minister, RENGO organised a seminar
for the trade union leaders entitled, “Toward a Stable International Financial
System, and the Development of an East Asian Economic Area”. Click here
to view the RENGO issue paper, and that by Mr.
Toyoo Gyoten, Chair of a Study Group on the International Economy and
Financial System, and President of the Japanese Institute for International
Unions call on G8 to push for full employment
And bring in effective rules for globalisation
A high-level trade union delegation will confer with the Japanese Prime
Minister, Mr. Yoshiro Mori, hosting the Okinawa Summit on 5 July at a meeting
in Tokyo arranged by the Japanese Trade Union Confederation, RENGO.
The Prime Minister will be given a comprehensive policy statement drawn
up by TUAC which calls on governments to:-
- Take co-ordinated measures to sustain and balance demand
growth in the world economy with the objective of reducing global poverty
and restoring full employment;
The Prime Minister will be asked to ensure that these views are put before
the G8 leaders at the Okinawa Summit on 21-23 July 2000.
- Re-regulate international financial markets and launch a widespread
public debate to establish legitimacy for the reform of the financial institutions;
- Act comprehensively through development assistance policies, debt
write-off and the development of broad-based social safety nets and policies
of the International Financial Institutions (IFI’s) to meet the objectives
of poverty reduction in developing countries;
- Move decisively to ensure that global trade and investment systems
reinforce the work of the ILO to guarantee core labour standards;
- Use the benefits of the “new economy” by encouraging a high road to
the management of structural change through the improvement of education,
skill and productivity levels;
- Ensure that growth is socially and environmentally sustainable.
To read the TUAC Statement, click here
Review of the OECD Guidelines
For Multinational Enterprises
Close to Completion
Governments Must Lock in Progress Made
Governments have taken a further step towards completing the Review
of the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises. The 15-17 May OECD
Working Party and CIME meetings reached agreement on the implementation
procedures, text and commentary of the Guidelines. However, a few
governments lodged reservations on the text on child labour, while Mexico
lodged a general reservation on the whole of the Review. Governments were
then given time to make further comments, but with a strong steer from
the Working Party Chair that he did not want to open up any issues of substance.
In the event, the reservations on child labour were lifted at the beginning
of June, leaving Mexico’s general reservation.
On the government side, the OECD Executive Committee in Special Session
(ECSS) is holding what is expected to be a final political discussion on
the Review on 7-8 June. Mexico will come under further pressure to sign
up to the outcome as it stands, but may still keep its reservation open
until the Ministerial meeting on 26-27 June. Having said that, and whatever
its position, Mexico would find it difficult to stop other Ministers from
endorsing the outcome.
The 25-26 May TUAC Plenary Session discussed the Guidelines Review,
at which the OECD Working Party Chair gave an overview on where things
stood. The message from the Plenary Session to the Working Party Chair
was unambiguous. Governments had to lock in the progress made, even though
it did not fully meet trade union concerns, and that a line had to be drawn
under the current drafts of the implementation procedures, text and commentary.
Any moves, whether from governments or business to weaken the outcome would
be met by a firm reaction from TUAC and its affiliates, which would risk
our publicly withdrawing all support for the Review. NGOs participating
in the review had indicated to the TUAC secretariat that they too would
react in a similar fashion.
The Plenary Session also agreed that were Ministers to endorse the outcome
of the Review as it stands then governments had to now plan along with
trade unions at the national level on how to promote the new Guidelines,
and importantly how to ensure they work in practice. There was also a need
for the OECD outreach work to promulgate the Guidelines among non-Member
countries and their trade unions. For its part the TUAC Secretariat would,
in co-operation with the ICFTU produce a users guide for trade unions world-wide
on the Guidelines, and work with the ICFTU and ITS’s to promote them and
to raise cases.
To read the TUAC note click here
Unions call on OECD Ministerial to push
for full employment,
bring in effective rules on multinationals
OECD Ministerial Council
26-28 June 2000
A high-level trade union delegation is providing an increased input
to this year’s OECD Ministerial meeting. It will meet with OECD Ministers
on the eve of the Ministerial Meeting on 25 June and, for the first time,
will make a presentation to the full Ministerial Session meeting on 26
The labour leaders will call on the OECD meeting for further action
to encourage job-creating growth. Speaking in advance of the meeting the
General Secretary of the Trade Union Advisory Committee to the OECD (TUAC),
John Evans said “For the first time in a generation there is an opportunity
to push toward full employment in OECD countries and start to include the
poor in the share of the benefits of the new economy. Central Banks and
Finance Ministers must support this growth and not stifle it through restrictive
policies based on unfounded fears of inflation”.
The OECD will also be asked to adopt new Guidelines on Multinational
Enterprises and take action to identify tax havens and unfair tax competition.
Evans said “to be credible, the Multinational Guidelines must be given
teeth; we will work with companies that respect the Guidelines to ensure
their application globally, but we must be able to expose companies and
countries that flout them. This debate is about governments accepting their
responsibilities in setting rules for the global economy”.
Ministers will be given a comprehensive policy statement drawn up by
TUAC which calls on governments to:-
- Take co-ordinated measures to sustain and balance demand
growth in the world economy with the objective of reducing global poverty
and restoring full employment;
To read the TUAC statement, click here
- Re-regulate international financial markets and launch a widespread
public debate to establish legitimacy for the reform of the financial institutions;
- Act comprehensively through development assistance policies, debt
write-off and the development of broad-based social safety nets and policies
of the International Financial Institutions (IFI’s) to meet the objectives
of poverty reduction in developing countries;
- Move decisively to ensure that the global trade and investment systems
reinforce the work of the ILO to guarantee core labour standards;
- Set up transparent and effective implementation mechanisms for the
OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises;
- Use the benefits of the “new economy” by encouraging a high road to
the management of structural change through the improvement of education,
skill and productivity levels;
- Ensure that growth is socially and environmentally sustainable..
OECD Council agrees to continued special monitoring
of labour rights in Korea
The OECD Council agreed at its session on 25 May to continue special
monitoring of labour rights in Korea. TUAC welcomed the OECD decision to
maintain the monitoring, recalling its demand that Seoul set a clear timetable
for labour law reform in Korea so that, by the end of 2001, legislation
is in place to grant all public sector workers trade union rights.
At the same time, the Korean government should honour its commitments to
observe ILO Standards of Freedom of Association, and bring in the requisite
changes in strike legislation to avoid recurrent waves of arrests of trade
unionists each time industrial disputes occur.
The OECD's special monitoring procedure of labour law reform in
Korea was established in the light of the Korean government's solemn commitment
at the time of its accession to the OECD in October 1996 to "reform its
legislation in line with internationally accepted standards, including
such basic rights as freedom of association and collective bargaining".
To read the TUAC submission click here
AFL-CIO President John Sweeney
elected President of TUAC
At its Plenary Session held on 25-26 May in Paris, TUAC members
elected John Sweeney, President of the AFL-CIO of the United States, as
President in succession to Canada's Bob White, who had indicated he was
stepping down after four years as TUAC President. Following the retirement
of Willy Peirens as Vice-President of TUAC, his successor on TUAC's Administrative
Committee, Luc Cortebeeck, President of thee CSC-Belgium, was elected
to the vacant position. TUAC's two other vice-Presidents, Etsuya
Washio (RENGO) and Evy Buverud Pedersen (LO-Norway) continue in office.
There have also been two changes affecting the composition of the TUAC's
Administration Committee, which prepares the decisions of the Plenary session
on financial and personnel questions, affiliation questions and also procedural
matters. Mikko Maenpaa, President of Finland's STTK, replaced Esa Swanljung,
and the Canadian Labour Congress named Ken Georgetti to succeed Bob White.
TUAC Plenary supports Slovak trade union request
to endorse Central European country's bid
to become 30th OECD Member nation
The TUAC Plenary Session of 25-26 May responded favourably to
a request from the Slovak Confederation of Trade Unions (KOZ SR) for support
for Slovakia's bid to become a member of the Paris-based OECD. Press reports
forecast a positive outcome to the Slovak application after the United
States reportedly lifted its reservations as to the readiness of the country's
financial and banking structures and practices. There was speculation
that Slovakia's accession as the 30th member of OECD might receive the
go-ahead at the forthcoming annual OECD Ministerial meeting on June 26-27.
Review of the OECD Guidelines
For Multinational Enterprises
Reaches Critical Phase
The current Review of the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises
has reached a critical phase in the run-up to the OECD Ministerial Council
in June. TUAC’s objectives have been:- to establish an effective implementation
mechanism in which National Contact Points have amongst other things clear
instructions to help resolve cases raised and to make public recommendations;
to back this up with an efficient OECD level implementation process; to
reinforce the global application of the Guidelines with a clear responsibility
for companies to respect human rights and to ensure their supply chains
respect the Guidelines; and to have an updated and strengthened text which
on employment and industrial relations includes reference to all ILO core
Progress has been made. The text is close to agreement although TUAC
is insisting on stronger language on child labour. Most of this progress
has come in the face of fierce opposition from a minority of BIAC's affiliates,
who have also conducted vigorous lobbying campaign in some capitals.
Similarly, progress has been made on developing a workable or at least
testable set of implementation procedures for National Contact Points.
However, at the most recent meetings of the OECD Committees and Working
Groups on 17-21 April 2000, a small number of governments succeeded in
introducing changes to the draft OECD procedures which would cloak
much of the procedures in secrecy on the grounds of confidentiality. This
could risk rendering them ineffective.
The Working Party on the Review and the CIME will next meet on 15-17
May in an attempt to finalise negotiations ahead of the 26-27 June meeting
of the OECD Council of Ministers that is scheduled to endorse the outcome
of the Review. TUAC, BIAC and NGOs will have consultations with the Working
Party on the morning of 15 May.
A more detailed briefing note for affiliates is attached. It summarises
recent developments in the Review, and which then focuses on those key
issues where further action by TUAC affiliates at the national level in
the run up to these meetings is essential and could have a real effect.
To read the TUAC note click here
TUAC Condemns U.S. Union Busting Activities by
Imerys a French based Multinational
TUAC has pledged its support to the U.S. Paper, Allied-Industrial, Chemical
and Energy Workers Union (PACE) campaign to halt the union-busting activities
of Imerys, a French-based multinational company, at its Georgia and Alabama
This flagrant abuse of workers’ rights by a multinational enterprise
is further proof that the Review of the OECD Guidelines for Multinational
which has now entered a critical phase, must give workers and their trade
unions effective redress for this type of action by rogue employers.
Last year Imerys withdrew union recognition of PACE at its plant in
Sylacauga, Alabama, after the company acquired English China Clays (ECC)
and merged its Georgia Marble plant with a much larger non-union ECC plant,
which stands next to the Marble facility.
PACE has filed several charges with the National Labour Relations Board
(NLRB) alleging illegal activity by the company. In response the NLRB has
issued a complaint finding merit on several of the union charges. PACE
has also taken the campaign to the international level, gaining support
from trade unions in France, Belgium and Britain, along with the ICEM (International
Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers’ Unions).
A global campaign web-site on Imerys is now online at www.imerys-workers.org/.
Trade unions stress the importance of continued OECD
monitoring of labour rights in Korea
Meanwhile authorities persist in violating union rights
with further autoworkers arrests
A TUAC delegation met with the OECD’s Employment, Labour and Social
Affairs Committee (ELSAC) on 12 April and urged the OECD to continue its
special monitoring of labour rights in Korea The TUAC presentation,
which included submissions from the Korean trade union centres the FKTU
and KCTU recognised recent progress in Korea including the legalisation
of teachers’ unions and the KCTU, but called on the government to take
further action to bring legislation into line with ILO Standards of Freedom
of Association. Of particular concern is the continued denial of trade
union rights in the public sector and repeated arrests of trade unionists
for “illegal” industrial action.
No sooner had the meeting taken place than labour relations in the Korean
automobile industry deterioriated sharply with renewed anti-union action
by the Seoul authorities. Workers at the Daewoo Motor Company went on
strike on 25 April to protest against the arrest of 20 union leaders after
police stormed the Pupyung factory. Thirteen unionists were released in
the course of the day but on April 26 seven were still held.
The TUAC has writen to the OECD denoucing the Korean authorities for
the renewed arrests. Recent events show the importance ot the OECD countinuing
its monitoring process and the need to step up pressure on Seoul.
TUAC has called on the Korean government to set a clear timetable for labour
law reform in Korea so that by the end of 2001 legislation is in place
to grant all public sector workers trade union rights and to honour its
remaining commitments to observe ILO Standards of Freedom of Association.
TUAC has also called on the Korean authorities to make the necessary changes
in strike legislation to avoid the recurrent waves of arrests of trade
unionists each time industrial disputes take place.
The OECD’s special monitoring procedure of labour law reform in Korea
was established in the light of the Korean government’s solemn commitment
at the time of its accession to the OECD, in October 1996, to “reform its
legislation in line with internationally accepted standards, including
such basic rights as freedom of association and collective bargaining”.
TUAC official criticises "casino" global markets, urges
need for strong OECD Multinational Enterprise Code
Speaking at the ICFTU Congress in Durban on April 3, TUAC General Secretary
John Evans warned of a growing conflict of interest between a new international
elite benefitting from the "casino" of global markets and increasing
difficulties faced by ordinary working people worldwide.
He said gigantic corporate mergers and acquisitions, often triggering
explosive increases in stock prices turning their owners into billionaires,
were also turning working people into the victims of change, as they suffered
the full blast of restructuring and job losses.
The social costs were starkly seen in the Asian crisis, as 100 million
workers and their dependants were thrust back into poverty. The message
of the defeat of the OECD's proposed Multilateral Agreement on Investment
in 1998 and the WTO débacle in Seattle last year was that the old
agenda of trade and investment deregulation without social rules and justice
could not and would not continue.
"TUAC has a special position as a trade union listening post in the
OECD, where governments craft their policies on the global economy," Evans
said. "But we do more than listen. We also remind governments every
day of the social implications of what they do, and we fight for policy
changes to counterbalance liberalised global markets through a system of
global governance and a system of social rules". Of special current
concern were the importance of efforts to build a new world financial architecture,
the continuing need to counter threats to the rights of Korean workers,
and, more widely, the need for unions to exert pressure on governments
to adopt effective revised OECD Guidelines on Multinationals.
"At the end of the 19th century, the industrialisation of many of our
societies led to the transformation of diverse workers' organisations into
national trade union movements. Today, at the beginning of the 21st
century, globalisation is creating the conditions which require an equally
dramatic leap forward in building the international trade union movement,"
Evans said. TUAC would be a "firm and active partner" of the ICFTU
in building the new global trade union network.
Trade Union input to OECD Business and Industry Forum
on structural factors driving industrial growth
The current pace of change in industry, notably through Information
and Communications Technology (ICT) innovation, raises a whole new set
of structural policy challenges of crucial importance to trade unions and
their members. These issues were addressed on behalf of TUAC by David Coats,
head of the British TUC's economic and social affairs department, speaking
on February 29 at an OECD business and industry forum on "Structural factors
driving industrial growth".
Rejecting the idea that there was now a new paradigm associating high
employment, high growth and low inflation, Coats said the business
cycle had not disappeared in the modern economy, nor had unemployment and
inflation. All too often flexible labour markets and easy access
to capital were seen as the only prescription needed to ensure growth.
In fact, workers had more anxiety than ever before and wanted employment
security. The big question remained how to reconcile that goal with the
imperatives of flexibility and change. In particular, "hire and fire
strategies driven by the demands of institutional shareholders to maximise
shareholder value appear ill-suited to a knowledge-driven economy," he
said. "Workers believe with some justification that their employers
are seeking twice the output with half the people in half the time."
The challenge was to manage change so that it was not seen as a threat.
Flexibility needed to be reconciled with security, with workers being given
a stake in the organisations that employed them. Greater training
and skills development, involving essential union participation, were also
indispensable elements, along with good corporate governance practice.
In this way, it was possible to build up a positive association between
strong trade unions and the deployment of "high commitment" management
practices to develop the knowledge-driven economy now making an ever-growing
impact in sectors like e-business.
TUAC Trade Unions Meet
with OECD Environment Ministries
Trade Unions at the OECD in Paris met with Environment Ministries of
the most industrialised countries this week (i.e. 04 April, 2000) to emphasise
how to implement the social dimensions of sustainable development, including
for issues related to poverty, health and employment. OECD Environment
Ministers were assembled to develop a strategy for implementing sustainable
development up to the year 2020. An OECD plan is to be finalised in time
for the special RIO+10 meeting of the UN General Assembly, scheduled in
The TUAC submitted a background paper covering a range of issue of concern
to workers and trade unions, including for employment, health & safety,
worker rights and participation, workplace actions for change, voluntary
agreements, transition programs, climate change and biotechnology.
Representative for TUAC Mr. Reg Green of ICEM (International Federation
of Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers' Unions) spoke in general
support of some of the OECD draft papers which sought the integration of
social and environmental concerns. "A major aspect of the social/environment
nexus is the relationship between workplace activities and community well-being",
he said, and that "the ascendancy of the free market over state planning
has obliged companies to pay much greater attention to their social and
He said that the pressure was growing for companies to ensure that their
behaviour and actions are transparent, effective, credible and inclusive.
"It makes a great deal of sense for companies to ensure that workers and
their representatives are as fully involved and supportive", he emphasised,
adding that successful voluntary industry initiatives and agreements are
those which seek to bring into harmony the social, environmental and
economic goals and involve fully the relevant stakeholders.
Green made suggestions for focussing on micro-level impacts of environmental
disruptions and of programs to mitigate them, as a way of fully understanding
the social implications of change. His suggestion to make climate change
a focal point for analysis of the social and economic impacts was supported
by members at the meeting.
Green also emphasised that "we need some demonstrable successes in attempting
to link social and environmental considerations and the OECD should support
initiatives which seek to ensure that the social and environmental aspects
of economic activity are integrated and to produce case examples for the
next meeting of OECD Ministers, scheduled next November in Paris.
To read the TUAC paper click here
TUAC pays tribute to Charles Ford
Charles Ford, former Assistant Secretary and then General Secretary
of TUAC from 1965-71 died on Saturday 11 March, aged 76.
Charles Ford was committed to raising the living and working standards
of working people everywhere. In this he was a committed internationalist.
While at TUAC he served also as Secretary and later General Secretary of
the European Regional Organisation of the ICFTU and Secretary in charge
of its Paris Office. In 1971, he went onto become the General Secretary
of the organisation that later became the International Textile, Garment
and Leather Workers’ Federation, until his retirement in 1988. In his early
life he also worked for the Czechoslovak government in exile.
Charles Ford played a key part in the transformation of the then trade
union Liaison Office to the Marshall Plan, to the TUAC in 1962. As part
of that he helped move the direction of TUAC’s work from promoting a trade
union vision of the post-war reconstruction process to managing economies
in an era of Keynesian demand management policies and full employment.
His energies at the ITGLWF led to a doubling of its membership, while
his vision was evidenced by pioneering work to promote the enforcement
of mechanisms to include core ILO labour standards in all trade agreements.
Please pass messages of condolences onto Neil Kearney, General Secretary,
ITGLWF, Rue Joseph Stevens 8, (Bte 4), B-1000 Brussels.
Increased government engagement
on the Review of the OECD Guidelines
for Multinational Enterprises
Delegations from TUAC, BIAC and NGOs met with the full OECD Committee
on International Investment and Multinational Enterprises on 20-21 February.
The discussions focused on key elements of the Review of the OECD Guidelines
for Multinational Enterprises. For the first time since the beginning
of the Review, some governments were more willing to enter into substantive
discussions on strengthened text and implementation procedures. The
Chair of the OECD Working Party on the Review appeared to back this up
in a later press briefing when he talked of the new political will among
governments to make the Guidelines, especially the implementation procedures,
A small TUAC delegation, along with representatives of BIAC and
NGOs will have further informal discussions at the Hague, Netherlands,
with the Chair of the Review, and selected other governments on 20-22 March
First agreed in 1976, the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises
have been since 1998 the subject of consultations aimed at reaching agreement
on an updated version. The current series of discussions involves
32 governments (the 29 OECD members, plus Argentina, Brazil and Chile)
in addition to TUAC and BIAC and a number of NGO's.
To read the TUAC report click here
TUAC at OECD GM Food Safety Conference
A TUAC trade union delegation at the OECD's recent "Food Safety"
conference on GMO's (Genetically Modified Organisms), held in Edinburgh,
UK, argued for a stronger focus on the health and safety implications for
workers. Delegation leader Bjorn Erikson, LO Norway, said: "There
has hardly been any study or investigation concerning workers' health and
safety, in connection with GM food products or organisms." He emphasised
that very little was known about workers' health in connection with the
production or distribution of GMO's.
Sue Ferns, of the UK based IPMS (Institution of Professionals,
Managers and Specialists) stressed that "higher levels of core funding
for independent research by public sector scientists" should also be a
priority. Research funding must be matched, she said, "by a more
consistent and rigorous approach to the use of scientific advice in policy-making
TUAC has proposed a plan of action to address concerns over biotechnology
and GMO's, and has called for the OECD to address the demand for:
° consumer information and protection
° a strong regulatory framework
° reliable research and science-based decision-making
° reliance on the 'precautionary principle'
° involvement of stakeholders, and
° workplace solutions for health and safety.
TUAC is also concerned that the possible social impacts of new
biotechnology have been completely sidelined by the rush to promote GMO's,
an answer to a food shortage problem that is not properly understood.
TUAC fears that GMO's may create more poverty than they purport to resolve.
Voluntary initiatives and agreements
can play a role
in promoting sustainable development
The OECD has recently published "Voluntary Approaches for Environmental
Policy: an Assessment", which draws some preliminary conclusions about
the effectiveness of attempts to provide pragmatic responses to new policy
TUAC's Lucien Royer, who represents trade unions on the steering committee
of the United Nations' Committee for Sustainable Development (CSD), says
that the OECD study "paves the way for a sharper focus on the types of
VA's that show signs of success". Many business-initiated VA's
among the thousands now in existence, he warns, in fact offer little in
the way of reliable mechanisms to evaluate what they are supposed to do,
"but all VA's must not be painted with that brush". VA's negotiated
between a number of parties "are the best of all, and those that are in
some way connected to or set up to strengthen government regulation or
policy are among the few to show measurable success".
The public must beware of VA's that may merely be "public relations
exercises in disguise". Rather clear monitoring and trustworthy
verification, alongside reporting and public accountability is needed.
France's Force Ouvriere holds Congress in Marseille
TUAC General Secretary John Evans was a guest speaker at the Force
Ouvrière congress held in Marseilles on 6th March 2000. Invited
to address the topic of "The trade union response to globalisation", he
told the 1000 delegates at the conference that trade unions should not
bemoan changes or react defensively to the globalisation phenomenon.
The right action was to respond and manage the changes.
But he cautioned: "To fulfill the legitimate aspirations of consumers,
employees, investors, markets require effective governance, whether or
not they are organised on a national, regional, or global scale."
Against a background of globalisation it was the forms of governance that
needed to change not the principle itself. "But unions themselves
are also changing -- reaching out to new groups of workers, using new sources
of influence, such as their control over pension funds and developing through
the international trade secretariats their studies for dealing with multinational
enterprises. The challenge," he concluded, "is to shape the global
debate on globalisation, and to show that the unions are a key part of
the solution to re-linking economic development and social progress."
Click here for full text
Devolution and Globalisation:
Implications for local decision-makers
(LEED Conference, Glasgow 28-29 Feb 2000)
TUAC took part in an international conference on "Devolution and
Globalisation: implications for local decision-makers", held in Glasgow
on February 28-29, and organised by the Local Economic and Employment (LEED)
Programme of the OECD, in partnership with Scottish Enterprise and the
Glasgow Development Agency. The meeting brought together more
than 100 development agency officials and other experts from different
OECD cities and regions to debate the opportunities created by the need
to deliver economic development policies within a devolved framework in
a globalising economy.
The conference looked first at the implications of devolution
globalisation for economic development policy in OECD cities and regions,
before reviewing recent institutional innovations and new policy tools.
With a strong in situ interest to conference delegates of the Glasgow experience,
notably the challenging redevelopment of the city's Gorbals district, the
meeting ended with a session devoted to lessons for the future, including
a round table discussion of different approaches outlined by a number of
OECD city mayors and regional ministers. A key feature of the second day
was the launching of the OECD Forum of Cities and Regions.
Belfast urban renaissance report published by OECD
In a related development to the Glasgow conference (reported above),
the OECD has just published "Urban Renaissance: Belfast's lessons
for policy and partnership". Drawing largely on international presentations
and discussions at a conference held in Belfast last year, the OECD report
focuses on regeneration projects carried out by the Laganside Corporation
in the city. TUAC shared in the organisation of the seminar.
The introduction to the OECD report emphasises "Trade unions understand
the interconnectedness between social conditons and economic growth, and
can contribute advice, but also concrete efforts such as job training and
the targeted use of their pension funds, to promote growth."
The report "Urban Renaissance: Belfast's lessons for policy and
partnership" is available from OECD sales agents.
Labour Leaders at Davos World Economic Forum
call for a new social alliance
and for a fresh start for globalisation
Trade union leaders participating in the annual World Economic Forum
in Davos at the end of January urged governments and business to join them
in developing a new social alliance that would contribute to making the
world trading system sustainable, tackle the concerns of developing countries,
and assist workers to both adapt to globalisation and help to shape it.
A six-point programme intended to give globalisation a social dimension,
seen as the key new element, covered the following main points:
- Full respect for fundamental labour standards
in all countries, essential if trade is to create better working conditions
for the world's working people;
- Real social strategy for the new global economy, emphasising
social protection in individual countries;
- Greatly increased financial commitment by industrialised
countries to development programmes built around gender issues;
- Targetting of aid on social programmes, with determined
effort to wipe out poverty, reduce developing country debt, and support
- Employment given the central role in economic and social
- Development of good global industrial relations, emphasising
TUAC input to OECD Labour Ministers' Conference
on youth employment, London, 8-9 February
As a participant in an OECD Labour Ministers' conference devoted
to youth employment issues, TUAC emphasised(speech)
that young people entering working life today in most OECD countries faced
unacceptable employment problems. With the under-25's hit by unemployment
rates of twice the adult average, many young people were in effect the
victims of a "split society". Those with high educational attainments
found exciting job opportunities, while those with low attainments and
from marginalised backgrounds -- such as workless homes, environments marked
by high crime and suicide rates for instance -- often faced at best long
periods of unemployment, interspersed with low-skill, dead-end jobs, or
the far worse perspectives of crime and prison.
The solutions to the youth unemployment problem lay partly in
the realm of the labour market, partly in that of economic policies.
It was important that the main partners concerned -- employers, unions,
governments and young people themselves -- should seek solutions in partnership
schemes such as the apprenticeship systems so successful in Germany.
Unions have a role as educators, empowering young people to change their
destiny while at the same time binding together the social fabric of OECD
countries at a time when the forces of globalisation and technological
change threaten to pull it apart.
To read the TUAC presentation click here
Further consultations on OECD Guidelines
for Multinational Enterprises
set for 17-18 February at OECD
The next round of informal consultations with the OECD working group
on the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises is to be held at OECD
on 17-18 February. The two-day meeting at the Chateau de la Muette will
discuss the latest draft of the OECD guidelines, which were revised in
December 1999 (see OECD website: www.oecd.org/daf/investment/guidelines/newtext.htm).
TUAC's concern is to ensure that the revised text has an effective implementation
To read the TUAC comments click here
Trade Unions join debate on the "New Economy"
A TUAC delegation joins the debate on the new digitised, knowledge based
economy in taking part in a high-level Business and Industry Policy Forum
on "Structural factors driving industrial growth" organised by the OECD
on February 29 in Paris. During the Forum, particular attention will be
given to the impact that advances in information and communication technology
are having on industry performance in different countries. Questions and
issues to be addressed will include:
a) What are the principal structural changes occurring at
the firm and sector level and what are the main factors driving these changes?
b) How are the structural changes that are occurring in industry
affecting overall industrial and economic performance?
c) For policymakers, what factors are important in understanding
why industry performance has differed significantly among OECD countries?
TUAC's contributions to the Forum will focus on the wide-ranging
effects on firms of high performance work systems and practices (HPWPs).
Research findings send a powerful message to both management and
policymakers: There is virtually no evidence indicating that a firm is
likely to suffer by adopting well-planned sets of HPWPs and employment
Moreover, both a TUAC background paper and by speakers will point out
that policies to promote widespread use of information technology cannot
and should not be limited to the economic integration of technological
change. To provide the prerequisites for a successful endogenous process
of technological and social change, negotiated and mediated both within
companies and at the level of society at large, all aspects of a broader
social integration of technological change must be included. Ongoing OECD
work, aimed at the identification of driving factors of growth and productivity,
should recognise these factors and develop policy guidelines that take
them into account.
at the World Economic Forum in Davos:
A fresh start for Globalisation
A new social alliance needed
Trade union leaders participating at the World Economic Forum in Davos
will urge governments and business to join with them in developing a new
social alliance to make the trading system sustainable, to tackle the concerns
of developing countries' and to protect workers everywhere during globalisation.
The labour leaders will present a six-point programme to give globalisation
a social dimension - the key element for a fresh start.
- There must be full respect of fundamental labour standards
in all countries if trade is to create better conditions for the world’s
To read more click here
- 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.
TUAC Plenary welcomes recognition of KCTU
in Korea but calls for more progress on
freedom of association
At its Plenary Session of December 9-10 TUAC welcomed the long-awaited
official recognition on 23 November by the Korean authorities of the Korean
Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU). Established in 1995, the KCTU
has thus now joined the Federation of Korean Trade Unions (FKTU) as the
second legally recognised Korean trade union centre affiliated to TUAC
and the ICFTU.
TUAC members were appalled at the violence used by the Korean authorities
in dispersing trade unionists involved in sit-in demonstrations on December
7, and the subsequent arrests of some 20 representatives. The international
trade union movement has called for the release of those arrested, which
has subsequently happened.
TUAC also expressed support for the FKTU's current struggle to amend
Korean labour law and bring it into line with ILO Principles of Freedom
of Association. In particular it called for amendment of the law
banning payment of salaries by employers to union representatives. ILO
rulings in the past have made clear that this should be an issue for negotiation
between the social partners and not a question of legal regulation.
TUAC will continue to support the actions of the FKTU and KCTU in their
campaign, and work with the whole Korean trade union movement to
secure full freedom of association for Korean workers.
To read Korean trade union comment, click here
Lack of consensus in Seattle could spur search
for more responsive and responsible global economy
The collapse of the Trade Ministers' meeting in Seattle was largely
the consequence of the growing imbalance in globalisation, according to
an assessment by the international trade union movement .The failure at
Seattle could however spur the beginning of a search for a new approach
The unions' view that one of the most striking areas of imbalance is
the link between trade and core labour standards was clearly brought out
in discussions in and around the Ministerial, showing that it is very much
on the agenda for future debate. The international trade union campaign
on labour standards, involving the ICFTU,
TUAC and ITS's has generated significant public support in both developed
and developing countries.
Globalisation has dramatically drawn attention to the need to guarantee
workers' rights on a worldwide basis. These and related issues were among
the themes raised at the TUAC-OECD liaison committee consultations in Paris
on December 10, given OECD's potential role in promoting and developing
a social dimension to the world economy. Such questions can even
arise in OECD Members such as Korea where, despite some progress (see above),
trade union officials continue to be imprisoned.
TUAC also emphasised the importance of food safety issues, and the urgent
need to relaunch the work on governance of the global economy by
including it in the long-awaited Review of the OECD Guidelines for Multinational
To read the background document, click here
Trade unions in OECD biotechnology
and GMO consultations
Despite the very short notice given ahead of the meeting, a six-member
TUAC trade union delegation was able to take part in an OECD consultation
on biotechnology and food safety issues, held at OECD headquarters in Paris
on Saturday, 20th November. Details of the TUAC contribution are given
in the summary below, and follow-up meetings are planned for early
in the New Year.
To read the summary, click here
Review of the
OECD Guidelines for Multinationals
Set to Move up a Gear
Work on the Review of the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises
moves up a gear following the OECD Working Party meeting on
6-7 December. Governments considered a compendium of draft textual amendments
proposed on the basis of previous discussions. These are improvements on
previous texts and include welcome changes to the Chapter on Employment
and Industrial relations. A completely new Chapter on Bribery and Corruption
is envisaged that could offer some protection for “whistleblowers”.
The compendium will be made available in January on the OECD web
Government attention will then move to the implementation procedures
where promising developments have occurred around the proposed conciliation
process. Furthermore, some governments are known to support the setting
up of an OECD level ‘experts group’ along the lines proposed by TUAC. That
would have the right to pronounce its views on the activities of multinational
enterprises as they relate to the Guidelines, and to make problem-solving
recommendations, were the conciliation process to fail.
Agreement on both textual amendments and the implementation procedures
could be built on and lead to the revised Guidelines becoming an important
and effective instrument of governance for the global economy. However,
much more still remains to be done in these areas if the Guidelines are
to recover their lost credibility.
The work still needed is mapped out in a TUAC briefing note (click here)
for affiliates on the Review. Part one discusses trade union experiences
with the Guidelines. Part two takes stock of the current Review and indicates
where pressure from affiliates could best yield results. We have also produced
a Submission (click here)
to the OECD that summarises these points.
70,000 WORKERS TO BECOME INVOLVED
IN CLEANER PRODUCTION
For Central & Eastern Europe (CEE) and the Newly Independent
ICFTU / TUAC / ETUC Pilot Enterprise Assessment Project
TUAC, along with worldwide and European trade union bodies, has launched
a proposal to involve nearly 70,000 trade union members in promoting cleaner
production practices within six large enterprises of Central & Eastern
Europe and Russia. "We wish to help implement objectives of the OECD Task
Force on Cleaner Production" says TUAC General Secretary John Evans, and
"we hope to foster a culture of cooperation between employers and trade
unions of the region in jointly implementing change for the longer term".
Evans says that discussions are currently taking place with employers of
steel, chemical and petrochemical plants in Bulgaria, Poland, Romania,
Russia and the Ukraine. Trade unions and employers would perform joint
enterprise assessments to improve the health, safety and environment situation.
TUAC is currently inviting feedback to a recently issued written proposal,
outlining how the project would be undertaken and the funding that would
be required. Copies are available at TUAC, contact Lucien
Royer at the Secretariat..
After Seattle : building the social dimension
of the global economy
For trade unionists, the Seattle World Trade Organisation Ministerial
meeting cannot be viewed like any other trade meeting. It is not
just a debate about tariff reductions or liberalisation of trade in agriculture
and services. It has to achieve the much more fundamental goal of
restoring public confidence in the global trading system. The debate
about Seattle and the WTO has become a debate about globalisation.
For many people, if trade liberalisation is to continue then it must
be made coherent with wider concerns such as environmental protection and
sustainable development, food and product safety and the observance of
fundamental labour rights. Progress on the former is linked
to progresss on the latter. In fact, globalisation has dramatically
drawn attention to the need to guarantee core workers' rights on a global
basis, which -- contrary to what some would have the world believe -- is
not at all a "new issue". Those unsure of this need only refer to
the International Labour Conference's adoption in June 1998 of the ILO
Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work. It is clear
that there must be consistency between WTO rules and the ILO Declaration.
These and related issues will be among the themes raised at the TUAC-OECD
liaison committee consultations on December 10, given OECD's potential
in promoting and developing a social dimension to the world economy.
This can concern OECD members also, such as Korea where -- despite some
progress (see above) -- trade union officials nonetheless continue
to be imprisoned.
Other subjects of clear interest for OECD include the related areas
of trade, employment and labour standards which could be developed, notably
by holding consultations with non-member countries; food safety
issues; and, importantly, urgent relaunching of the work on governance
of the global economy by including it in the context of the long-awaited
Review of the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises.
To read the background document click here
TUAC representatives and NGO's raise pre-Seattle international
at OECD Trade Committee Session
Paris, 20 October 1999
TUAC, ICFTU and AFL-CIO raised issues related to continuing public concerns
about globalisation and questions relevant to trade and investment likely
to be part of future trade round discussions at a special meeting of the
OECD Trade Committee. Along with representatives of Non-Governmental Organisations
(NGO's), TUAC officials stressed that new trade rules likely to emerge
from the future new trade round to follow the World Trade Organisation
(WTO) ministerial meeting in Seattle in November needed to incorporate
specific provisions. These included stronger rules regarding the environment,
development, labour rights as well as food security.
TUAC emphasised the importance of creating a permanent working group
at the WTO to work on the links between trade and core labour standards.
First presented in Singapore in 1996, these proposal are now supported
by the United States and the European Union. They are bound to feature
large in the Seattle debates and in the minds of the thousands of demonstrators
who will be protesting outside the WTO meeting.
To read the ICFTU statement on the pre-Seattle situation, click here
AFL-CIO Convention debates globalisation
Los Angeles, 11-13 October 1999
TUAC officials were among the overseas trade union delegates who attended
the AFL-CIO Convention in Los Angeles on 11 to 13 October. The focus of
the Convention was the new organising drive by American unions. Others
key subjects debated included globalisation, with particular reference
to trade, international finance and labour standards. Despite much concern
at the job insecurity created by globalisation, the final resolution clearly
positioned the AFL-CIO as an advocate of new rules for internationalism,
i.e. embracing an open world economy but with stronger rules to advance
social and environmental concerns.
This theme figured in the discussion and eventual decision to endorse
the candidature of Vice-President Al Gore for a major Democratic Party
drive to win control of the US Congress as well as to retain the Presidency.
President John Sweeney introduced Al Gore as a leading defender of workers'
freedom to join a union. Gore told the Convention "I will fight for the
values that we share around the world". If elected, he said he would "insist
on and use the authority to enforce worker rights, human rights and environmental
protections in (new trade) agreements".
Japan's unions debate globalisation
Tokyo, 13 October
Prior to its congress on 14-15 October, the Japanese Trade Union Confederation,
RENGO organised a seminar on the trade union response to globalisation.
The panel speakers included TUAC President Bob White, and General Secretary
To read the latter's contribution, click here
TUAC presses Korea for further action
on trade union rights
TUAC General Secretary John Evans was in Korea for meetings with Korean
officials and FKTU and KCTU unions at the beginning of October. In
discussions with the Chair of the Tripartite Commission and other officials,
he pressed for further action to free imprisoned trade unionists, to legalise
the KCTU and bring Korean law into line with International Labour Office
(ILO) standards of freedom of association.
At the invitation of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation and FKTU and KCTU,
he gave a lecture at a trade union seminar in Seoul on the trade union
response to globalisation in OECD countries.
To read the text of the lecture, click here
Review of the
OECD Guidelines for Multinationals
The Working Party set up by the OECD Committee on International Investment
and Multinational Enterprises (CIME) to work on the review of the
Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises next meets on 2-5 November to
discuss a series of proposals to improve the implementation procedures
and textual revisions to the Guidelines.
A number of new initiatives have been proposed to reform the implementation
procedure, including a new conciliation process. This new avenue
look promising, especially if backed up by a revised mechanism to
contest the worst abuses of labour rights. The textual revisions being
proposed are improvements on past drafts, especially those to the chapter
on Employment and Industrial Relations and Information Disclosure. A completely
new chapter on Corruption is envisaged that includes a proposal to protect
A more detailed TUAC update on the Guidelines Review will follow the
2-5 November OECD Working Party Meeting.
Transition from Initial Education to Working Life
Joint OECD-TUAC-BIAC Seminar
A successful transition from initial education to work is considered
a key stage in laying the basis for both employment and continuous learning
throughout adult life. Issues related to the transition from initial education
to work, in particular conclusions emerging from recent experience in a
number of OECD countries, will be the focus of discussion at a joint one-day
seminar to be held by the OECD Education Committee in close co-operation
with both TUAC and the Business and Industry Advisory Committee (BIAC).
The seminar will be held on 18 November 1999.
An input is provided by the OECD report on Transition from Initial Education
to Working Life, based on a comparative review of 14 countries. The objective
of the seminar is to draw lessons from successful policy experience as
well as from remaining challenges identified during the review. The discussion
will focus in particular on the following issues:
- Building safety nets for those at risk;
Trade union participation in the seminar will be co-ordinated through TUAC.
- Developing links between work and learning;
- New skill demands and transition policies;
- Strengthening lifelong learning through transition policies
OECD Consultations on the New Trade Round
TUAC will join business representatives and NGO in consultations
on 20 October with the OECD Trade Committee on preparation for the New
Trade Round likely to be agreed at the Seattle World Trade Organisation
(WTO) Ministerial Meeting at the end of November. In a campaign coordinated
by the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) , trade
unions have been pressing for the protection of the International Labour
Office (ILO) core labour standards to be accepted by the WTO.
In a letter to the Financial Times published on September 3, the general
secretaries of four major international union organisations warned that
the real challenge facing WTO negotiators this autumn in Seattle was "nothing
less than to restore the confidence of working people and their families
throughout the world that the global trade and investment system does
work in their interest".
Officials of the International Condederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU),
the World Confederation of Labour (WCL), the Trade Union Advisory Committee
to the OECD (TUAC) and the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) sent
the combined letter after the newspaper published a call by international
business leaders for a new "trade and investment liberalisation package"
to be launched in Seattle. Warning that "public concern is at an
unprecedented level regarding the impact of the trading system on serious
issues such as genetically-modified crops, the destruction of the environment,
child labour, workers' rights abuses, growing job insecurity and widening
inequality", the trade unionists' letter stresses that the Seattle negotiations
must "incorporate effective rules to govern the trading system's impact
on labour rights and the environment".
To read the full text of the letter click here.
TUAC hosting "public voice" Conference
on the Internet and E-Commerce
In conjunction with an OECD Forum on electronic commerce, TUAC is to
hosting a "public voice" conference in Paris in mid October.
Intended as an opportunity to pursue the debate between trade unions and
non-governmental organisations (NGO's) on social and legal issues related
to electronic commerce, the meeting is focusing on concepts and methods
to ensure that workers' and consumers' interests are taken into account
in the transition to the information society. This follows up on
the OECD conference on E-commerce held in Ottawa in October 1998.
A full report will be available on this web-site in November.
To see the programme of the OECD Conference, click here
Unions urge OECD Committee visiting Seoul to increase pressure on Korean
Government to honour pledge to establish normal labour
rights and practices
TUAC has urged an OECD Committee delegation visiting Seoul later this
month to put increased pressure on the Korean Government to relinquish
its current practice of cracking down on trade unions, and to move forward
the agenda on establishing freedom of association, as the authorities have
pledged earlier. TUAC is particularly concerned at the continuing imprisonment
of union members and the apparent crackdown of the Seoul Government on
the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU).
The KCTU is the second main trade union confederation alongside the
already officially-recognised Federation of Korean Trade Unions (FKTU):
both are affiliated to TUAC. The KCTU has announced that more than 100
of its members, including KCTU General Secretary Koh Young-Joo, are still
under arrest. Many were hold in connection with labour disputes in July
A delegation from the OECD's Employment, Labour and Social Affairs Committee
(ELSAC) has visited Korea in September. A TUAC briefing note on industrial
relations in Korea also calls on the ELSAC to undertake urgently a broad-based
labour market review on the Republic of Korea.
To read the briefing note click here.
International Trade Unions call for
action from the G7 to stem the risk of recession
and establish an international Commission
on financial markets
The Asian and now Russian financial meltdowns have pushed a third of
the world economy into recession. Those who have borne the brunt are working
people and their families. In Asia living standards have collapsed and
unemployment has surged; in Russia one quarter of the labour force has
not been paid for six months. Spreading bankruptcies are now leading to
more widespread destitution. The crisis risks spreading to Latin America.
The European Union and United States have yet to feel the bite of recession,
but the global economy is inter-linked and falling trade and dangerously
volatile stock markets threaten to trigger a truly global recession with
devastating impact on employment unless urgent corrective measures are
The international trade union movement presented proposals for action
to the G7 Birmingham Summit in May, but the industrialised countries have
failed so far to show the leadership needed to prevent recession and make
sure that the global financial system is reformed to support growing and
widely shared prosperity. The G7 must now assume their responsibilities
and act decisively in three areas.
First, G7 Central Banks and Finance Ministers must implement a co-ordinated
strategy to support balanced demand and restore global growth and job creation.
This must include targeted reductions in interest rates in Europe and North
America and an OECD-wide fiscal policy geared to recovery.
Secondly, they must act on the trade union proposal to the Birmingham
Summit to establish an International Commission, along the lines of the
Brundtland Commission, with a broad mandate to consult and advise on a
new financial architecture to bring orderly governance to international
capital markets. The past piecemeal initiatives to strengthen financial
markets’ prudential controls have been shown to be grossly inadequate.
A new assessment must include a future role for an international tax on
foreign exchange transactions, appropriate use of exchange controls, and
a stable set of parities between the Euro, Yen and Dollar.
Thirdly, the debacles in Asia and Russia have shown the need to reform
the structural adjustment policies of the international financial institutions
as called for by the 1995 UN Copenhagen Summit for Social Development.
The Institutions must urgently promote a socially responsible market system
that includes good governance and respect for human rights, increased employment
and poverty reduction, and avoids austerity and mindless deregulation.
To read the detailed trade union proposals as presented to the G7 Birmingham
summit click here
Trade unions to advise OECD on the development of
Guidelines on Corporate Governance
The OECD has convened a ad-hoc multi-stakeholder Task Force to develop
a set of international standards and guidelines covering key aspects relating
to corporate governance. This initiative was agreed at the April 1998 meeting
of the OECD Council of Ministers.
The Task Force itself will comprise representatives of OECD governments,
trade unions, business, and relevant international organisations working
in this area. Fritz Verzetnisch, President of the Federation of Austrian
Trade Unions, and Ron Blackwell, Director of the AFL-CIO Corporate affairs
Department will participate on behalf of the TUAC.
The Task Force which will meet several times in Paris from July 1998
onwards shall seek to reach a consensus on a set of draft international
standards and guidelines covering the following corporate governance related
themes: ownership and control issues; the equitable treatment of shareholders;
transparency and disclosure issues; the role of boards of directors; and
stakeholder interests and societal concerns. These will then be presented
to the Spring 1999 meeting of the OECD Council of Ministers for adoption.
This work will be a priority issue for TUAC in the coming months. Though
voluntary, the OECD expects that the standards and guidelines will serve
as a reference point for national work, and will be applied by OECD and
non-OECD governments alike. It is important, therefore, that trade unions
seek to ensure that this project does not become a vehicle to promote the
Anglo Saxon model of corporate governance based on “shareholder values”,
ahead of the continental European “stakeholder” approach.
As part of this, TUAC will bring together a group of trade union experts
working on corporate governance issues to present their views to the October
1998 Task Force meeting. This meeting will be held jointly with management
experts within the framework of the OECD Labour/management Programme.
Further information on that meeting plus the work and membership of
the Task Force can be obtained from the TUAC office.
Change in TUAC E-mail addresses
Please note that from july, the TUAC e-mail address changes from firstname.lastname@example.org
and that TUAC staff are also contactable at the following individual
Pierre Benielli: email@example.com
John Evans: firstname.lastname@example.org
Roy Jones: email@example.com
Brigitte Pomel: firstname.lastname@example.org
Lucien Royer: email@example.com
Roland Schneider: firstname.lastname@example.org
Michelle Vedel: email@example.com
For the time being mail sent to our former address will be automatically
Provisional Calendar of TUAC and related
September - December 1998
(As of 15 July 1998)
A provisional calendar of TUAC and related OECD meetings for September
- December 1998 has been prepared.
To see the calendar, click yere.
OECD Social Policy Meeting:
Ministers review spending programmes
Unions call for a new initiative to halt growing
insecurity and social exclusion
Trade unions from the industrialised countries called on governments
to take a new initiative on social policy at the OECD Social Ministers’
meeting held in Paris on 23-24 June 1998
The main message of the TUAC Statement
presented to Ministers was that globalisation, demographic change, mass
unemployment, increasing economic insecurity, and changing family structures
all pointed to the need for a new agenda for social policy. But the privatisation
of social security systems would be a disaster - worsening inequality and
increasing insecurity. Rather governments needed to play a central role
ensuring good public systems and integrating social concerns into all aspects
The Ministerial meeting emphasised the role of social policy and
showed scepticism concerning the claims of those who advocated radical
privatisation. However the need remains to raise the profile of social
issues in the OECD and combat the growth of social exclusion and deprivation
in OECD countries. Governments rather seemed more comfortable with treating
social policy as essentially a question of the effectiveness of spending
programmes in achieving specified objectives.
Part of the debate was focused on the impact of the ageing of OECD societies
on pension schemes, following the publication of the OECD report “Maintaining
Prosperity in an Ageing Society” at the time of the OECD Finance Ministers
meeting in April. The TUAC delegation meeting the Ministers recognised
the need to modernise and reform pension schemes but insisted that this
could not be based on the lowering of benefits. They also warned against
an over-reliance on private or capital market schemes against the background
of the Asian financial market crisis, in which many pension funds had lost
money. Rather there was a need to protect and improve public pensions as
an important part of multi-pillar systems.
To read the TUAC evaluation click here
Korean arrests: World Unions call on Government
to abide by International Law and resume dialogue
The Korean government risks reverting to the practices of its predecessors
by violating international labour norms in its hounding and arrests of
trade union leaders say international trade union organisations. They are
calling on the government to act in accordance with internatioal labour
standards, in particular ILO Convention 87 on Freedom of Association, and
to resume dialogue and negotiations with the unions on reforms for economic
The International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) and the
Trade Union Advisory Committee to the OECD (TUAC) have received information
from their affiliates in Korea that the government has issued arrest warrants
for at least 45 leading trade unionists, including leaders of the Korean
Metal Workers' Federation (KMWF). So far, three trade union leaders have
been arrested: Jung Yoon-sub, Kung Chong-man and Lee Kyang-keun. The police
sent 400 men with cars, fire engines and tractors to the KMWF Headquarters
to arrest its President Dan Byong-ho. However, he avoided arrest, and is
now in sanctuary in Myongdong Cathedral.
The apparent government crackdown is a response to the KMWF strike launched
on July 14, which followed a union rally on Sunday, July 12 called by the
two leading Korean trade unions, the Federation of Korean Trade Unions
(FKTU) and the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU). Worker unrest
is growing in the face of government inability to implement reforms for
economic recovery, as agreed by the Tripartite Commission.
Workers have been hit hard by the deterioration of working and living
standards, brought about by the financial crisis and subsequent austerity
programmes. Unemployment has tripled since the end of 1997. In particular
the unions are protesting at the way in which restructuring has been carried
out in the financial sector without union agreement and without adequate
social protection for those made redundant, and at unfair labour practices
The ICFTU, TUAC, and APRO (the ICFTU's regional organisation in Singapore)
have protested to the Korean President about the danger of returning to
authoritarian methods of the past and the continued existence and use of
labour legislation which violates freedom of association of trade unionists,
for taking legitimate trade union action. The government action is very
detrimental to the promotion of healthy and sound industrial relations
practice say the trade union organisations. They are monitoring the situation,
and will be taking follow-up action if necessary.
In addition, the union organisations are writing to the Korean government
urging them to resume the Tripartite Commission in good faith, and to ensure
full respect of the ILO Convention on Freedom of Association. The unions
stress that dialogue, nor conflict with civil society, including unions,
is the only constructive way forward. The ICFTU is also calling on its
affiliates in 141 countries to protest to the Korean government.
For more information about Korea, click here