NEWS 2000



In this section you will find TUAC policy statements, evaluations of the outcome of major OECD meetings, comments on OECD policy recommendations and OECD reports and press releases. 




OECD Export Credit Agencies ranked 
on their anti-bribery efforts

UNICORN, a Global Unions Anti-Corruption  Network managed by the TUAC has produced a new report that analyses the anti-bribery policies and practices of the Export Credit Agencies (ECAs) of the major industrialised countries.

Click to read the full report, and to see how your government's ECA ranks and its anti-bribery efforts.

TUAC Evaluation of G8 Labour/Employment Ministers Meeting

 (Stuttgart 14-16 Dec 2003)

The main new element in the conclusions of the G8 meeting of Labour and Employment ministers which closed on Tuesday 16 December in Stuttgart was the emphasis on the need to take the social dimension of globalisation more seriously, says a TUAC evaluation issued today in Paris. The meeting was chaired by German Economic and Labour Minister Wolfgang Clement and preceded by consultations between trade unions and employers’ delegations.

TUAC welcomed the G8 proposal to create an “inter-institutional dialogue forum consisting of ILO, UNCTAD, WTO, World Bank and IMF” in addition to enforcing core labour standards, respect for OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, the internationalisation of labour relations and encouragement to the ILO and OECD to work together on growth and employment.

TUAC general-secretary John Evans, who took part in the G8 social partners consultation meeting with other global union leaders, was quoted in French press reports as saying “the G8 session covered three key questions: (1) how to strike a balance between (labour) security and flexibility? (2) what should be done to improve growth and employment ? and (3) how to improve the social dimension in globalisation?”

The TUAC assessment says the proposal for international institutional cooperation in the field of employment and social issues “breaks new ground”.  TUAC commented on the move as “an important step towards establishing a standing working forum on the social dimension of globalisation as proposed by global unions”.

Read the Evaluation of the Chair’s conclusions and the Trade union Statement to the meeting.

The Global Economy Needs Sustained Growth

Paris, Wednesday 12 November 2003

A TUAC delegation composed pf those responsible for economic policy from national trade union centres in the OECD countries met with Chair of OECD Economic Policy Committee Greg Mankiw, (Chair of President Bush's Council of Economic Advisors) on 12 November 2003 in Paris to discuss policy action required to bring about sustained recovery in the global economy. The trade unions economists submitted the following statement. to the EPC.

Whilst the OECD is forecasting the return of economic growth, TUAC’s view is that the global economy is in a fragile position. Unemployment has risen across OECD countries and wages and household incomes are stagnating. An increasing number of workers, notably women are being forced into precarious and badly paid jobs. Subsequently, poverty levels are rising, exacerbated by the weakening of welfare systems. Many developing countries face further declines in domestic and export demand, and a further setback to achieving the millennium development goals of poverty reduction. At the same time multilateralism is increasingly under threat.

The spurt in economic output and employment growth in the US is welcome. However serious doubts remain over its sustainability. Meanwhile poverty levels and homelessness are rising dramatically both because of anaemic labour demand, and as a legacy of the dismantling of the welfare system. On the corporate side, over-capacity still exists, exacerbating still weak capital investment. The increasing and unsustainable current account deficit is a threat to domestic recovery and international currency stability. The ongoing systemic crisis in US corporate governance, including the stock exchange, along with the emerging crisis in the mutual fund industry risks further financial market instability.

Continental Europe continues to lag behind, and unemployment is rising in the major economies in the face of monetary policy that remains too restrictive, and a fiscal straight jacket, caused by a rigid Stability and Growth Pact. Domestic demand stimulation, not restrictive macroeconomic policy, accompanied by labour market de-regulation, must be the key to pushing the Euro zone back onto a growth path.

Japan meanwhile is slipping further behind as policy paralysis sets in. Deflation has been locked into the system, as policymakers refuse to accept the need for radical thinking. Unemployment has reached record levels, and shows no sign of improving indeed there is significant hidden unemployment. Real wages meanwhile are falling, so too are product and services prices, exacerbating the deflationary and recessionary conditions. The banking crisis is casting a further shadow over the economy.

Many developing countries have become trapped in inappropriate macroeconomic policies, largely determined by IMF and World Bank conditionality, with Latin America, Asia and most transition economies stagnating. 

The message to policymakers is clear. Macroeconomic policy matters. And the US and UK experience, among others shows that it works, but with an appropriate mix. Concerted and co-ordinated monetary and fiscal policy action is needed to sustain economic and employment growth. Output gaps are a break on inflation and not domestic demand led expansion. Structural reforms to promote good quality work will gain public support, not simplistic labour market de-regulation. The world economy can no longer rely on the US being the sole engine of growth. Therefore, further risks should be countered by:

-        European policy-makers must play their part in leading the global economic recovery. That demands a forward-looking framework for monetary and fiscal policy to implement the Lisbon commitment to full employment. Instead of preparing the ground for a rise in interest rates, the ECB has room to ease monetary policy. It should therefore cut interest rates now. Governments must boost domestic demand through capital investment in infrastructure, employees’ education and training, research and development, and improving the environment. The European growth initiative in this area is particularly welcome. The Stability and Growth Pact should be implemented in a flexible manner, avoiding pro-cyclical tightening in a downturn, and allowing public investments to support recovery.

-        The decision by the US Federal Reserve to continue growth supporting monetary policy into the medium term is the right one. On the public policy side, the fiscal mix must now be geared to favour support for low and middle income earners, and repairing and enhancing the social safety net. Restrictions on state level borrowing should be reversed. Corporate governance reforms need to be accelerated, and broadened to encompass the savings industry.

-        The Japanese authorities have to inject significant liquidity into the economy to stimulate private sector job creation, create direct employment, and maintain and improve the social safety net so as to reduce worker insecurity. The financial system is a key component of the socioeconomic infrastructure. Reform of the Japanese banking sector necessitates a role for the public authorities. But the subsequent restructuring process will only be credible if it is accompanied by an emergency employment pact to raise employment levels on the basis of high quality jobs, and which is implemented with the full involvement of the social partners.

TUAC Urges Immediate Rescinding by Korean President
of Non-Democratic Steps against Korean Unions

TUAC and the ICFTU have sent messages to Korean President  Roh Moo Hyun, expressing “deep concern at the deteriorating situation of workers’ rights in Korea”. TUAC General Secretary John Evans voices particular concern over recent suicides by Korean metalworker trade unionists who were served with claims for damage over strike action filed by employers.

According to information reaching TUAC, 46 unions and their leadership have been served with court orders seeking compensation for damage amounting to more than 140 won.  Evans’ letter charges: “The legal system is being misused by employers to repress workers’ rights to undertake collective action that would be lawful in other OECD countries.”  He again calls on the Seoul government “to make the changes in Korean labour legislation required to bring it into line with respect for normal Freedom of Association practices that would remove the root cause of this situation.”

The TUAC and the ICFTU have also proposed that a timetable for bringing in the changes be put in place, and calls on Korea to work with the ILO and OECD international organisations to resolve the issue once and for all. 

Click here for texts of the letters              

Trade Unions Tell the OECD  It’s Time to Focus
on the Social Aspects of Transportation

Paris, Wednesday 12 November 2003

A representative of the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) has told the OECD that equitable solutions must be found to a broad range of social issues associated with transportation if governments are serious about achieving sustainable development.

Speaking today to the OECD’s Environment Policy Committee (EPOC) in Paris, Sharon James of the ITF warned that free-market forces could not be relied upon to provide solutions to the complex environmental problems caused by transport. Nor were pure fiscal measures such as transport taxes and charges sufficient on their own. They had to be backed up by the enforcement of social standards, and political interventions by governments to ensure social protection and policy coherence.

She was responding on behalf of the ITF to an invitation extended by the OECD to make recommendations to Environment Ministries, in co-operation with other Ministries, on policy measures that should be taken to tackle costs that are often referred to as “externalities”, i.e. the costs of transportation systems that are not normally reflected in financial statements or in prices paid by consumers.

Too often, James said, the discussion on externalities in transportation had been limited to a focus on the environment. While clearly important, this had had the unfortunate effect of deflecting attention from the costs borne by workers and their communities.

“Massive changes in the organisation of the world’s transport industry are at the heart of today’s trends towards globalisation. Current demands on transport are largely driven by the freight transport needs of large global corporations, which demand the provision of enhanced levels of service, more quickly, with greater flexibility, and at an ever lower unit cost. Pressures to reduce inventory have led to increased use of just in time production and delivery methods in a number of industries, and this has resulted in a deterioration of working conditions and greater insecurity.”

“We urgently need to promote environmentally friendly transport modes and to pursue an integrated transport strategy. We should also explore the potential of well-designed economic instruments. However, such measures will inevitably create winners and losers at a range of levels so there must be sustained political commitment and partnership with a range of stakeholders, including trade unions, to ensure that there is an equitable distribution of burdens and benefit in the transition. Proposals to deal with the transition to sustainable transport tend to address the need to compensate industry and shareholders without providing parallel protection for workers and communities.”

“Without concrete measures to address such matters as employment displacement, access to affordable and efficient public transport, and maintaining and developing a skills base to support the sector, sustainable development will remain a pipe dream.”

About the ITF

The ITF is a global federation of 621 trade unions in the transport sector of 137 countries, representing about 5 million workers in ships, ports, railways, road freight, passenger transport, inland waterways, fisheries, tourism and civil aviation. It speaks for transport workers at the international level and promotes their interests through global campaigning and solidarity

ITF appeared before EPOC as part of the delegation from the Trade Union Advisory Committee to the OECD (TUAC)

For more information:
Sharon James
Seafarers' Section
International Transport Workers' Federation
ITF House
49-60 Borough Road
London SE1 1DS
Direct line: +44 (0) 20 7940 9310
Direct fax: +44 (0) 20 7940 9275

TUAC Input into Revision Process of
 OECD Corporate Governance Principles 

The OECD is now revising the Principles of Corporate Governance first adopted in 1999 in the wake of the Asian financial crisis.  As they stand, the Principles are composed of five chapters covering the rights of shareholders, the equitable treatment of shareholders, the role of stakeholders, transparency and disclosure, and the responsibilities of the board.   

The review process launched in autumn 2002 is in the hands of the OECD Steering Group on Corporate Governance which has already met several times.  Its next meeting, in November, is likely to be crucial as regards finalising the revised instrument which will subsequently be presented for adoption at the Spring 2004 meeting of the OECD Council at Ministerial level.

The importance of a successful review has been underscored by rising public concern over a systemic crisis in corporate governance, caused by the recent succession of corporate scandals (Enron and others) in major OECD countries.  TUAC and its affiliates actively participated in the elaboration of the original 1999 OECD Principles of Corporate Governance.  They are now also active in the review process, and have engaged staff and resources to follow up the review process, taking the form of a TUAC project post on corporate governance.

The TUAC Initial Statement on the review (posted 19 September 2003) calls for the OECD Governments to meet the challenge of helping to reverse the current trend of rising public mistrust of corporate management and to ensure that the revised Principles “pass the post-Enron test”.

As part of the consultation input to the review process, the OECD organised on October 10 an informal roundtable on corporate governance and the OECD Principles.   Attended by participants from OECD countries as well as from other international organisations and from BIAC and TUAC, the session focused on the following topics:

-          The role of investors and the exercise of key ownership functions;

-          Market integrity, including financial service providers and the role of self-regulatory bodies;

-          Implementation and enforcement, which covers the quality, consistency, and architecture of the regulatory framework.

TUAC asserted the need for a comprehensive approach to the governance and the accountability of the corporation that reflects the rights and the responsibilities of all the stakeholders of the corporation, including the employees.

For further information on this work Contact Pierre Habbard at the TUAC secretariat.

Western Governments and International Unions Put Increased Pressure on Burmese Regime

Two recent decisions by Western Governments, one also involving an international trade union and an international enterprise, put increased pressure on the military regime currently running Burma.

First, the 31-government membership of the Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering (FATF), located in the Paris-based OECD, announced on November 3 that it was calling on its members to apply additional counter-measures to the Asian country of Burma, currently run by a military dictatorship.

Identified as a non-cooperative country or territory (NCTC) in June 2001, Burma has failed to address the problem of correcting major deficiencies in its anti-money-laundering regime.  A FATF press release said in particular Burma has not tried to engage in effective international cooperation to counter money-laundering, and done nothing to give teeth to its anti-money-laundering legislation.

British American Tobacco Pulls out of Burma

The British American Tobacco Company (BAT) announced on November 6 that it was pulling out of Burma after pressure was applied by the UK Government and the International Union of Food, Agriculture, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers (IUF).

BAT said in a statement that it had sold its share in Rothmans of Pall Mall Myanmar Pte Limited – a BAT subsidiary operated through a joint venture with the Burmese military – to a Singapore-based investment company.  The IUF raised the issue of BAT’s Burma-based activities with the UK Contact Point in September 2003 as a breach of the OECD Guidelines on Multinational Enterprises.  Since BAT was conducting a joint venture with the Burmese military, it was argued that it could not comply with the spirit of the Guidelines.  Furthermore BAT’s operations in Burma necessarily involved it in political activities which had repeatedly been condemned by resolutions of the UN Security Council, the ILO and other international bodies. 

Welcoming the development, TUAC said it showed that the OECD Guidelines could play an important role in dealing with problems of corporate misconduct.  It was noted, however, that BAT was still present in Burma through licensing agreements.

TUAC calls for a reassessment  of the OECD’s Jobs Strategy

Labour and Employment Ministers from OECD countries met in Paris on 29-30 September to discuss ways to improve employment opportunities for the unemployed. They also agreed that the OECD should reassess the recommendations of the OECD Jobs Strategy:

TUAC welcomes the reassessment of the Jobs Strategy. The time is ripe to reassess the OECD Jobs Strategy, not just in light of the last 10 years, but also with respect to what we now know about the sources of growth. How the reassessment should be done has been outlined in a TUAC contribution to the recent issue of the OECD Observer. It states strongly that we do not need to hear OECD experts hailing labour market reforms as the panacea of unemployment and a sluggish economy.

To read more click here 

To read the TUAC Statement Click          Traduction française cliquez ici  

To read other contributions to the recent issue of the OECD Observer

A Learning Workforce for the Knowledge Economy: 
Rethinking Methods, Roles, Responsibilities”

On September 24 TUAC and BIAC organised with support from the OECD Labour-Management Program a joint meeting of trade union and management experts on “A learning workforce for the knowledge economy: Rethinking methods, roles and responsibilities”. A joint summary report was drafted as an input to the meeting of OECD Labour Ministers on 29 – 30 September 2003.

The joint report stated that lifelong learning was essential in a fast-changing knowledge economy with an ageing population. Business, unions and government all share responsibility for providing lifelong learning and encouraging its use. However, business and unions place different emphasis on why lifelong learning is important. For unions, the emphasis is more on maintaining and developing jobs and equity of access.

It was also agreed that incentives for training are important, both for employers and employees and that public policy also has a role to play in creating incentives via tax breaks, training vouchers, training accounts etc. However, participants emphasized that there is no-one-size-fits-all solution. But they agreed that investment in time is as valuable as financial investment.

Once more, the question of who pays for training remains difficult to answer. For trade unions, the best solution is for social partners to determine how to share the costs, both in terms of financial investment and time invested, through negotiation.

Click here to read the full summary :

TUAC and OECD Interviews put Focus on Korea

Interviews given recently by TUAC General-secretary John Evans and OECD Secretary-General Donald Johnston to two different Korean journals covered a wide range of economic and social topics on the Korean reform process and aspects of the role of the OECD.  

TUAC General Secretary, John Evans told the Korean Labour Institute Journal that Korea still had not yet built an industrial relations system capable of managing and reducing industrial conflict in the country.  He stressed it was urgent that the Seoul government reform the country's labour laws to bring them in line with internationally recognised labour rights of freedom of association.  Some progress has been made, he said, citing the legalisation of the teachers' union and the KCTU, but in the five years to 2003 no less than 800 trade unionists had been imprisoned.  Failure to respect basic workers' rights has been repeatedly criticised by the ILO,  Evans said, recalling the fact that the Seoul government had still not fulfilled the commitments made to the OECD when it joined the Paris-based organisation in 1996. 

Asked about TUAC's priorities as the voice of international labour within the 30-nation OECD, he that said global markets  needed to be balanced  by an effective social dimension.   In an allusion to the need for solid corporate governance measures, he said: "Given the growing impact of globalisation on working people and their families and the realisation of the need for participatory strategies by governments for all the stakeholders in market-based economies, this dialogue is now more important than ever."

In a separate interview with the Korean Economic Report, OECD head Donald Johnston also responded to a question about corporate governance, which has been an important area of work at OECD since 1998.  Noting that Korea had made progress in reforming its corporate governance framework, he said there was still some way to go in implementing the reforms and ensuring that companies respond by bringing in good corporate governance practices.  He emphasised the need to ensure sustained growth through market integrity, especially in the area of transparency and disclosure.   He acknowledged that there was some concern in Korea about the immediate macroeconomic effects of greater transparency and improved corporate governance reforms.  But he said that good corporate governance was an indispensable part of a successful modern economy, so governments had no other choice but to adopt it.

TUAC calls for a new approach of labour market
and employment policies

The 2003 edition of the OECD Employment Outlook 2003 provides substantial evidence indicating the need for immediate action. Particularly important is the evidence of under-provision of training as well as on the inequality of access to continuous vocational training, not caused by a lack of interest on the side of the workers. Other important findings are the problems associated with redesigned social protection systems directed towards the promotion of employment. There is considerable evidence of the existence of “low pay traps”, concerning in particular women and older workers in low–paid employment. They are facing a higher risk of falling into poverty. Moreover, there is also evidence suggesting that low-paid non-standard work strongly increases the likelihood of workers having bad jobs. Despite the ongoing increase in non-standard work, there is evidence indicating that long-term-jobs are alive and well. However, both types of jobs are facing the challenges of increased competition in a global economy, bringing about higher work intensity.

From TUAC’s point of view, this leads to a simple but compelling conclusion: In order to combat unemployment and to increase participation in the labour market across all groups of the workforce, a new approach of labour market and employment policies is required.

To read the full document, click here

Education at a Glance 2003:
Some good news but TUAC sees no room for complacency

A well educated and well trained workforce is essential for social and economic development. Trade unions therefore, have got a strong interest in ensuring equal access to education and training. In this regard the new edition of Education at a Glance 2003, the annual edition of OECD indicators on education, presents some good news: in a broad range of learning activities participation has increased, the demand for learning and training opportunities is tending to rise.

However, there is no room for complacency regarding education and training policies. There are challenges which need to be addressed immediately.

To read the full document, click here

Global Unions call for political leadership by World leaders
 after Cancun talks

 The international trade union movement said the WTO conference in Cancun collapsed on Sunday 14 Sept. because the WTO failed to meet the needs of developing countries and failed to confront the social problems linked to trade.

Guy Ryder, General Secretary of the ICFTU said “The collapse of yet another WTO conference has further undermined the credibility of the WTO,” and  he warned: “This crisis will continue as long as WTO members refuse to tackle development, poverty, employment, and workers’ rights.”

Global unions representatives, who included Roy Jones of the TUAC, said it was more than a crisis of the trading system, it was a crisis of global governance.    

The ICFTU’s Ryder said: “We call on world leaders to reflect on the social vacuum at the heart of the multilateral system.  This requires a discussion at the highest political level.  The United Nations must show leadership in this.”

Review of the OECD Principles of Corporate Governance:
TUAC proposals to ensure the Principles pass the post-Enron test

The OECD is now revising its Principles of Corporate Governance first adopted in 1999 in the wake of the Asian financial crisis. As they stand, the Principles are composed of five chapters covering the rights of shareholders, the equitable treatment of shareholders, the role of stakeholders, transparency and disclosure and the responsibilities of the board. The OECD Steering Group on Corporate Governance that is negotiating the revisions has met several times since the launch of the review process in Autumn 2002. The next meeting is due early in November 2003 and appears to be crucial within the review process. It is expected that the revised instrument will be presented for adoption to the Spring 2004 meeting of the OECD Council at Ministerial level.

The recent swathe of corporate scandals in major OECD countries have revealed a systemic crisis in corporate governance. The post-Enron environment of public mistrust of corporate management is leading to a de-legitimisation of the corporation itself. The task now facing OECD governments is to ensure that the Review of the Principles helps reverse that trend.

The TUAC Secretariat has proposed an Initial Statement on the review that has been sent to OECD Steering Group members for consideration. Specific proposals are made to re-energise the corporate governance landscape, and to restore the public’s confidence in the corporations, notably a substantial revision of the Stakeholder chapter and the addition of three new chapters (role and responsibilities of the CEO, role and responsibilities of institutional investors, implementation of the Principles). The TUAC Initial Statement also calls for the OECD Steering group to follow four guiding principles to govern the review:

1.         There is a systemic crisis of the corporation itself, not just of corporate governance.

2.         Corporate accountability is a prerequisite for corporate governance.

3.         The Review of the Principles must be coherent with other internationally agreed commitments.

4.         The “no one size fits all” perspective should not be a pretext to adopt a minimalist approach.

Affiliates and others who wish to know more about the TUAC work should contact Pierre Habbard at

To read the full document, click here       Traduction française, cliquez ici   

"Review of the OECD Principles of Corporate Governance: Report on a meeting of trade union experts held under the OECD Labour/Management Programme (Paris, 19 June 2003)

Trade Unions to raise concerns over job losses with
OECD Labour and Employment Ministers

(Paris, 29-30 September 2003)

A TUAC delegation will meet with OECD Labour and Employment Ministers at the OECD on 29 and 30 September to press for urgent action to stimulate employment creation. The OECD Ministerial meeting is expected to focus on ways of improving job opportunities for people on the fringes of labour markets.  France’s Minister for Social Affairs, Labour and Solidarity, François Fillon, will chair the meeting, which is to be preceded first by a Forum devoted to “Myths and Realities of Good and Bad Jobs”.

A TUAC statement on how to provide more and better jobs, will be presented to Ministers. The main points of the unions are the following ones:

-- The ministerial meeting is being held at a critical time marked first by a fast-worsening employment situation in the OECD area, which now urgently needs action to stimulate the economy and create jobs;

-- If the objective to increase employment rates and bring new groups into the labour force is to remain viable, then it is essential that governments adopt a new approach aimed at improving job quality;

-- The time is ripe now to reassess the OECD Jobs Strategy on the basis of experience accumulated over the last ten years in OECD countries;

-- Finally, in both OECD countries and developing nations, public concerns are growing over the negative aspects of an approach to globalisation based on simple deregulation; this means that the OECD should be given a mandate to work more actively with ILO and other institutions to build a social dimension to globalisation.

Members of the trade union delegation will be giving a press briefing on the proposals at from 10-11 am Monday 29 September at Centre d'Accueil de la Presse Etrangere (CAPE), Maison de Radio France, 116, avenue du President Kennedy, 75116 Paris.

To read the TUAC Statement Click

Traduction française cliquez ici  

Your chance to question EU Trade Commissioner
Pascal Lamy on the Cancun WTO Ministerial meeting

Between 18-00hrs and 20-00 hrs on Thursday 4 September 2003 Pascal Lamy will host an on-line discussion entitled: “The Cancun WTO Ministerial: Making Trade Work For All!”

Participating trade unionists may wish to suggest to Mr. Lamy that trade could begin to work for all when the WTO rules offer the same protection for workers as they do for capital, and what efforts will he make at Cancun to ensure that they do?

Colleagues will of course have their own questions, and those wishing to participate in the discussion should click on:

Alternatively questions may be sent in advance, in 11 languages to:

TUAC urges for more action by governments to support the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises

The TUAC Working Group on Global Trade and Investment met in Paris on 23 June to discuss the implementation of the OECD Guidelines and prepare the consultations with the OECD Annual Meeting of National Contact Points (NCPs) on 24 June.

Although the Guidelines have become more known and visible, there are still room for improvement and NCPs need to increase their awareness-raising activities. During the consultations, trade unions raised the lack of transparency, the fact that cases were not managed in an efficient and timely manner and that some NCPs appeared to be hiding behind legal procedures when dealing with cases. Trade unions called on governments to increase peer pressure in order to make all NCPs resume their responsibilities. Furthermore, it was suggested that the OECD annual report on the Guidelines should be used as a tool to monitor NCP performance and that the OECD Committee on International Investment and Multinational Enterprises (CIME) should set a timeframe on the handling of cases and establish a register for cases, to which NCPs should be obliged to report to. NCPs were also encouraged to improve co-operation among themselves.

The OECD Roundtable on Corporate Responsibility “Enhancing the role of business in the fight against corruption: making the most of the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises” was held the following day on 25 June. David Cockroft, the International Transport Workers’ Federation, and Kirstine Drew, UNICORN (Global Unions anti-corruption network), had been invited to speak on behalf of trade unions. David Cockroft raised the issue of corruption in terms of flags of convenience. He noted that corrupt practices were most common within companies that did not respect trade unions. He also questioned how the US NCP had dealt with (or rather, not dealt with) the Guidelines case involving the Liberian Ship and Corporate Registry. Kirstine Drew underlined that there was no single definition of corruption and that corruption was universal and not cultural. She also criticised codes for being ad hoc and inconsistent. One particular problem raised during the meeting was the supply-chain, which did not follow the same standards as other companies.

TUAC Speaker tells Seoul Conference that Korean Government must bring in Labour Law Reforms

(Seoul, 2-3 July)

A senior policy adviser with TUAC has told a conference in Seoul that the Korean Government must urgently bring in labour law reforms to align the country with accepted international labour standards.   Despite being a member of the Paris-based OECD group of 30 advanced industrialised countries since 1996, Korea had notably failed to incorporate in its labour law the ILO fundamental rights and principles at work, as set out in the ILO declaration of 1998.

TUAC adviser Roland Schneider told the Korean Economic Association conference on "The Labour Movement, International Labour Standards and Labour Market Flexibility" on June 26 that, compared to other OECD countries, Korea is lagging behind by failing to comply with international labour standards and union rights.  The Government had repeatedly failed to honour promises to reform its laws, he said, emphasising his "deep concern regarding the current state of industrial relations in Korea". 

He quoted from the 2002 OECD report on labour and social policies in Korea:  "It remains a fact that successive waves of arrests and imprisonment of trade unionists not only represent a threat to fundamental workers' rights, but also damage the required trust among the social partners, and thus hinder efforts to foster a stable industrial relations climate".  He said that "in the absence of such trust, industrial relations in Korea have been marked by increasing militancy".   

The TUAC representative, however, welcomed the recently-announced intention of the new Korean Government to draw up a strategic plan for dealing with labour issues.  He stressed that TUAC was ready to work with its Korean affiliates to support the reform process on the basis of ILO recommendations.  This meant in particular working on issues including:

- the right of all civil servants to form and join trade unions;

- speeding up the process of legalising trade union pluralism;

- ensuring that wages can be paid to fulltime trade union officals without interference;

- revising the list of essential public services according to a normal definition;

- repealing the notification requirement;

- enabling unemployed workers to retain their union membership, and

- reinstating those wrongfully dismissed from their jobs.

TUAC Stresses Urgency of Active Growth Policy
Top Economies in Address to ILO Conference

(Geneva, 16 June 2003)

 Speaking in support of ILO Director-General Juan Somavia’s ILO conference report, TUAC General-Secretary John Evans called Monday 16 June in Geneva for industrialised countries to double income growth per head from one to two per cent to generate new jobs worldwide.

Evans said “three years into the new millennium, the world is further from achieving the UN’s millennium development goals on poverty reduction than it was when they were agreed”. He emphasised the importance of Mr Somavia’s point that it was essential to reinforce the link between poverty reduction and the respect for human rights at works.  With three billion of the world’s population of 6 billion existing on less than two dollars per day, Evans said a stimulus to growth was crucially important “because poverty and social vulnerability are also increasing in OECD countries.”  He warned that growth was “in free fall” because of “failing confidence following the financial market collapse in the wake of the dot-com boom and the Enron and other systemic scandals of corporate governance”. 

The TUAC official called on industrialised countries to take a lead and “re-launch the world economy through a co-ordinated pro-growth and pro-poor stimulus”.   He also particularly welcomed the proposal made a few days ago by South African President Mbeki for a “Global Structural Fund”, and urged the need to strengthen labour market institutions whose role it is to represent and strengthen the world’s poor and vulnerable.

To read the full document, click here

Global Unions Panel holds pre-Cancun Debate on Sustainable Trade, Social Development and Decent Work Issues

(Geneva, 16 June 2003)

Global unions representatives and participants in a WTO panel on June 16 discussed issues of particular interest to unions related to the forthcoming Cancun conference.   Speakers expressed particular concerns regarding governance questions, union rights, and lack of transparency in the GATS negotiations.

These points were stressed at the outset by session chair Philip Jennings, General Secretary of Union Network International (UNI), in his opening statement.  First speaker Guy Ryder, ICFTU General Secretary, listed the following top trade union priorities for Cancun:  protecting public services in the GATS negotiations;  meeting developing country demands on questions such as TRIPS; reducing agricultural subsidies;  preventing so-called "Singapore issues" from aggravating the imbalances of globalisation; taking steps to protect core labour standards at the WTO;  and achieving greater transparency at the WTO.  Participants made clear that without concrete progress on these  issues, it would prove extremely difficult for the WTO to inspire any widespread confidence that it could deliver the ambitious results foreseen in the 1994 founding declaration agreed at Marrakesh.

Neva Makgetla, Policy Director of South Africa's COSATU, urged the diversification of developing countries' exports, something which the market could not deliver automatically.  This increased the need for active government intervention, as well as access to technologies and industrialised country markets.  She warned of a real threat that WTO rules would take away from developing nations the very tools that had historically allowed today's industrialised countries to develop in the first place.  She also emphasised the importance of public subsidies to ensure that populations had access to electricity and water;  and she urged the need for cheap retroviral drugs to give HIV victims a chance to survive.

TUAC General Secretary John Evans said increasing numbers of investor-to-government lawsuits under NAFTA rules were heightening distrust of investment negotiations, and he regretted the absence of a social pillar at the WTO, contrary to what had been agreed at the Johannesburg World Summit.  The TUAC official stated that unions sought the following:   a multilateral investment framework which would impose obligations on  investors; an end to competitive bidding-down of labour standards in order to attract investors; protection of core labour standards; and fair rules giving developing countires a chance to participate more in world trade 

In a first round of discussion, participants stressed the importance of transparency on investment issues, the need for labour standards and rights to be guaranteed;  this was particularly relevant with China now in the WTO while still remaining an offender on labour rights abuses.  In this respect, several participants recalled that international sanctions had played a key role in bringing down the apartheid regime in South Africa.

Click here for fuller summary of the Global Unions panel session  

International Expert Meeting on Sustainable Consumption and Production asked to Consider Potential for Workplace Action

(Marrakech 16-23 June)

An international Meeting of Experts in Marrakech, Morocco has begun the process of assembling a 10-year framework for action on sustainable consumption and production as mandated by last year’s Earth Summit (WSSD) in Johannesburg, South Africa. 

The four-day meeting (16-23 June), organized by the United Nations Division for Sustainable Development and the United Nations Environmental Programme, and hosted by the Moroccan Cleaner Production Centre will produce a set of elements for discussion at the Spring 2004 Session of Commission on Sustainable Development in New York.

Trade unions are a Major Group identified in Agenda 21, and are at the meeting to ensure that work and workplaces are recognised in this Programme. While they agree with many of the elements proposed in the initial Discussion Paper, they believe that much more attention must be directed to strategies to mobilise stakeholders in the workplace and at the community level.

Speaking on behalf of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) and the Trade Union Advisory Committee to the OECD (TUAC), Winston Gereluk of the Public Services International (PSI) points out that many innovative approaches to production and consumption have already surfaced in the world of work, since the Rio Summit in 1992.

A real danger, he says, lies in a tendency to revert to purely technical solutions to environmental issues, and to relegate social and economic issues to a second-tier status. In order to be effective, a Programme of Action must focus on patterns of consumption and production as they are organically integrated into the ebb and flow of work and community life.

Many of the most serious obstacles to implementation of WSSD outcomes are social, says Gereluk. Unsustainable patterns of consumption, for example, pose serious threats to our global ecology, but at root, they are based in workplace and social cultures, in inequitable systems of decision-making and distribution, and other such socio-economic and political factors.

“Popular acceptance of any Programme for change will depend on the extent to which it addresses people’s concerns about the effect it will have on jobs and community life,” said Gereluk. “Fundamental changes to lifestyles, processes of work and ways of conducting business will always produce insecurity and fear, and these are therefore the factors we will have to address if we wish to win the level of public consensus that is required.”

“Not only are workplaces at the centre of current unsustainable patterns of production and consumption; they provide a logical starting point for the type of changes that will have to take place, as well as for building the public awareness and capacity that are needed.”

Trade unions are well-equipped to make a contribution where workplaces are concerned. They are an integral part of the industrial relations system in the workplace, nationally and internationally, and instrumental in building a rich legacy of experience with employers, community groups and governments that includes:

·        work-based partnership and voluntary agreements between employers and workers in the form of collective agreements, model agreements, committees and collaborative processes.These include ‘framework agreements’ involving some of the world’s largest multinational corporations, joint projects, research and educational institutes, and a variety of processes for consultation and cooperation.

·        workplace audits or ‘assessments’ that bring workers and employers together to identify  and prioritize problems, discuss solutions, monitor progress and report on results. They have proven to be extremely effective in the area of occupational health & safety, and are now being applied to larger sustainable development issues in workplace and community.

§         information and awareness-raising strategies to link changes in workplace practice with community. Eco-labeling programmes, for example, have shown how responsible patterns of consumption can be linked with sustainable production. As well, workers in such areas as the retail sector can readily be employed for public education purposes.

·        workplace and community-based research with scientific, technological and academic, as well as government and intergovernmental bodies is now being directed to ‘sustainable development best practices’, social and employment impacts and transition challenges.

·        training and education to build capacity that will allow workers and employers to engage in sustainable development programmes, including social transition. Trade unions on over 2 million worksites around the world have  become leaders in adult education.

 ·        cooperation with national governments and local authorities to strengthen regulatory systems, ensure equitable provision of services and to promote projects.

·        work with international agencies, such as the ILO, UNEP and WHO to promote the incorporation of sustainable development goals into trade, investment and governance decisions, with a priority on the social dimension..

“Trade unions have exhibited a unique ability to work at the local level, to address problems facing real people at work and in domestic life,” said Gereluk. “While many of the problems discussed at the Marrakech meeting may be international in scope, the key to their solution lies in the ability of actors at the local level - in the workplace and the community - to pool their spirit, resources and influence in joint efforts for change.”

For further information contact:

Winston Gereluk, PSI, Rm. 2208, Kempinski Hotel Mansour, Marrakech, Morocco  Ph:                    E-mail:

Lucien Royer, ICFTU/TUAC, Paris, France  Ph: +331.5537.3734  E-mail:

Trade unions see Evian as “a tale of two Summits”

(Evian 3 June 2003)

The internal ambitions of the French Presidency to set a “social agenda” for globalisation at the Evian Summit appear to have fallen victim to external pressures to re-establish relations with the U.S. Presidency following the Iraq war.

At the meeting with trade union leaders on 25 April, there was much agreement between President Chirac and international labour that the Summit needed to give a boost to growth and employment, reinforce rules on responsibility of business in the global economy, and develop solidarity between the North and South. The Summit conclusions in these areas look thin. Confidence is expressed that the world economy will pick up in the second half of the year and emphasis placed on “structural reforms”. On responsibility the Summit supports existing initiatives and much attention is given to NEPAD and health, but the treatment of the key question of resources is inadequate. Issues remain as to which multilateral institutions will follow-up on which work areas.

TUAC and the global union movement will continue to work on these questions to push governments to honour commitments on issues such as the implementation of the OECD Guidelines on multinational enterprises, the strengthening of stakeholder treatment in Corporate Governance, and giving workers a voice in the NEPAD process. Furthermore, the reform of the G8 process itself remains on open question now that the Presidency in Evian extended the invitation to leaders of non-G8 countries.

To read the  full Evaluation of the Evian Summit outcome  click here 

Public Service Unions react to G8 Action Plan on Water

The Public Services International has issued the following reaction to the G8 Action Plan on water. We welcome the commitment of the G8 to “playing a more active role in the international efforts…” to meeting the Millennium Development Goals in water and sanitation.  Such high-level political commitment is necessary to implement the human right to water. 

We also welcome the G8 recognition of the importance of the public sector in providing water services.  This will go some way towards broadening the tools of the international institutions, particularly the Bretton Woods institutions which hitherto focused almost entirely on privatising water operations.  We welcome the statement’s support for capacity building through training centres, for its recognition of the potential role of public-public partnerships (PUPs), and for its support for mechanisms to enable municipalities to access local capital markets.  All of these can help build and strengthen the capacity of the public sector to develop water and sanitation systems in the same way they were developed in G8 countries.

Howver, we regret that the G8 continues to support and encourage privatisation of water services.  We remain concerned about the damaging and destabilising impact of privatisation of water services in developing countries, and point to the systemic problems of imposing market dynamics on this sector, especially in developing countries. Although much investment capital is needed for infrastructure development, experience clearly shows that the corporations are unwilling to risk new equity capital, are currently reducing their investments, and are unwilling to operate without  substantial government guarantees.  The G8 refuse to acknowledge that the model of stimulating investment through PPPs has failed.

Although the G8 Water Action Plan gives a nod to government responsibilities, the implementation elements of the Plan support an agenda of continued privatisation and market control.  The G8 states that it will “Promote public-private partnerships (PPPs)”, thus pressuring developing countries to adopt a model which benefits global corporations, to the detriment and despite the opposition of local populations.

The reference to cost recovery and output based aid are especially worrisome, as the combination of the two will reinforce commercial exploitation of water services. This leads to  adverse social effects through the use of such market based systems as pre-paid, self cut-off meters, and the extraction of profit from urban water systems in developing countries to foreign shareholders. 

The specific recommendations to support privatisation through risk guarantee schemes; harmonisation of operational procedures, and facilitating the issuance of national and international tenders will only heighten local opposition to foreign corporate domination of water systems.  It is unacceptable to use the Millennium Development Goals and official development assistance to provide state subsidies to multinational corporations, and to encourage non-transparent and undemocratic corporate takeover of water resources. 

We urge the G8 to support and assist the capacity building of the public sector, notably in political, technical, managerial and financial areas.  Much more institutional support must be directed to local governments and public water operators, especially in developing countries.  Public-public partnerships are a key ingredient to such a strategy.  It is essential that the shape and direction of decision making in this sector is determined by local democratic institutions at state and local level, with open and transparent public participation in setting budgets and goals.   We further regret that the G8 has omitted the central role of workers in the water sector in supporting and engaging in reform of public systems. 

Trade Unions Participate in High-Level G8 Employment Meeting

 (Paris, 12 - 13 May 2003)

Despite the conflict between governments and unions in several European countries over pension’s reform, more agreement has been reached on achieving fairer treatment of older workers. This was the employment issue discussed by high-level officials and labour and management,  on 12–13 May in a Paris meeting organised by French authorities as part of the preparations for the G8 Summit opening 1 June in Evian.  Results will be fed into the preparations for the next G8 Labour and Employment Ministers conference to be held in Stuttgart in December 2003.

In 2000, G8 Employment ministers adopted in Turin the charter “Towards active ageing”, and in 2002 in Montreal the group agreed on possible ways of meeting the challenge of  skills and training for the 21st century.  François Fillon,  French minister of social affairs, labour and solidarity, recommended that G8 Labour ministers, in consultation with the European Commission, the OECD, ILO and the main interested parties (including TUAC and BIAC) should exchange views on issues of age management and the responsibilities of the partners concerned.

In the context of population ageing, a key issue is how to integrate people of all ages in the workforce while also raising employment and skill levels. The Paris meeting covered three mutually related themes:  working conditions and corporate provisions favourable to employment integration; shared responsibilities by all partners concerned; and the development of initiatives and policy approaches to encourage employment at all ages.  Keeping on older workers, despite corporate restructuring for instance, was seen as very important in raising skill and experience levels of workers of all ages. 

On the policy front, participants called for the introduction of macroeconomic policies to promote growth and employment at a time when industrialised nations’ economies are either stagnating or worse.

TUAC’s presentation at the Paris meeting also given on behalf of the ICFTU started: “One of the main priorities is to increase the level of participation by older people in the labour market by improving their employment prospects, reviewing employment practices, adapting work systems, workplaces and career path to ageing, and promoting equal opportunities.” 

To read the full presentation click here

Trade Unions Make their Voices Heard at OECD Ministerial Council and Forum Sessions

(Paris 28-30 April 2003)

TUAC and AFL-CIO President John Sweeney and other leading trade unionists from TUAC affiliates played a prominent part in the three days of economic and social policy discussions held in the OECD annual Ministerial meeting and the related OECD Forum debates.

Following the April 25 meeting with French President Jacques Chirac for preparatory discussions about the forthcoming G8 summit in Evian (see item 4 below), a TUAC delegation held pre-Ministerial talks at the OECD with Helen Clark, Prime Minister of New Zealand, this year's chairperson of the OECD Council. 

In her official Summary of the results of the conference, given in Paris on April 30, Ms Clark referred to the dialogue with BIAC and TUAC preceding the OECD meeting and which, she said, "had stressed the importance of confidence for promoting growth and in this context the need for good corporate governance, even if there were alternative views expressed about how this should be achieved."   In a move welcomed by TUAC, she added "The Chair indicated to the meeting that further consideration should be given to allowing BIAC and TUAC observer status at future Ministerial Council meetings."

A number of TUAC delegates participated actively in the debates held during the two-day OECD Forum.  In a session devoted to "The Social Dimension of Trade and Investment" TUAC President John Sweeney condemned the loss from workers' pension funds of an estimated one trillion dollars because of corporate abuse and crime by executives "plundering their own companies for personal profit".  He said the US,"long the vital engine of global growth, is now burdened by the largest trade deficits on record" with a national foreign debt standing at 25% of GDP.  He called for "coordinated. sustained and bold efforts by Japan, Europe and the US to get the global economy going", bearing in mind the "US can no longer be the sole engine of global expansion". In particular, he said, "reforms must go forward on corporate governance and accountability" with an urgent need for action "to address poverty and desperation in the global South".

In another Forum session, devoted to "An Agenda for Growth", Heinz Putzhammer, a member of the executive board of the German Federation of Trade Unions (DGB), warned of serious economic stagnation, steady rises in unemployment and now the prospect of a "weak and jobless recovery". He called for policies to ensure the pick-up of consumer and government demand, saying that structural reform policies were not enough.  He disagreed with those who said Europe simply needed to "follow the American model of hire and fire", pointing out that countries with strict employment protection legislation (Finland, Ireland, Portugal and Sweden) were also among those experiencing the highest growth.  He said that high unionisation rates and social protection can improve economic performance in the form of lower unemployment and inflation, high productivity and speedier adjustment to shocks.

Another trade union speaker, UNI general secretary Philip Jennings, addressing a session on "Corporate Governance and strengthening conditions for investment" said "The OECD and this Forum have an important leadership role 'to clean up the corporate yard', and the current review of the OECD Principles of Corporate Governance provides such an opportunity."  Commenting that "governments around the world are responding in the face of a consumer and investor backlash against greed, fraud and irresponsibility by CEOs and managers," he said "working people and their unions should have a role to play in the processes and procedures that govern the life of the corporation." CSC President and TUAC Vice-president Luc Cortebeeck called for a broader approach to governance issues including a respect of basic workers rights.

In a session on "Export Credits and Sustainable Development", Ken Georgetti, President of the Canadian Labour Congress, argued that public funds used to support private companies must be made more transparent.  He said it was not ethically sustainable that 2.8 billion people worldwide should have to live on less than $2 per day while OECD countries attained such a high standard of living.  He said "One way to eliminate the pressure is to raise the standard of living in the developing world."  

To read the TUAC Evaluation of the Ministerial click here

Labour and Business Leaders Call on Governments
Rebuild Multilateral Co-operation
Global Economic Recovery

(Paris 29 April 2003)

Trade union leaders from OECD countries led by TUAC and AFL-CIO President John Sweeney agreed with their business counterparts on key issues for the global economy in a meeting with Ms. Helen Clark, New Zeeland Prime Minister, Chair of the OECD Ministerial Council meeting, and other ministers on 29 April.

There was a consensus on the need for a tripartite partnership between labour, business and governments to break out of the current economic recession. Both sides also called on governments to rebuild and deepen multilateral co-operation so as to restore growth and reduce unemployment in the global economy, with a particular emphasis on life long learning for all workers. Agreement was also reached on transforming the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises into the leading international instrument for corporate social responsibility. Within that the OECD, labour and business should work together to learn how the UN had promoted its Global Compact.

At the end of the meeting, the Prime Minister welcomed these points of agreement and suggested that business and labour representatives take part directly in future Ministerial meetings.

Speaking after the meeting, John Evans, TUAC General Secretary said: “OECD Finance Ministers should heed the warnings from trade unions and business on the dire situation facing the global economy. They must act immediately on our joint call to rebuild multilateral political and economic co-operation to boost economic growth and job creation. We are ready to work with business and governments to develop an effective tripartite partnership and to transform the OECD Guidelines into the pre-eminent instrument of corporate social responsibility and accountability”.

President Chirac Joins G8 Trade Union Leaders
in Calling for a
“Co-ordinated Strategy for Economic
Recovery and Job Creation”

(Paris, 25 April 2003)

In a meeting on 25 April with a delegation of international and G8 trade union leaders led by TUAC and AFL-CIO President John Sweeney, President Chirac, host of the G8 Evian Summit said that his main goal would be to launch a “plea for economic growth” at the June Summit. In other comments on the current global economic uncertainty, and its consequences for employment he went further in calling for a “co-ordinated strategy for recovery and job creation”, thereby echoing one of the main messages in the TUAC Statement to the OECD Ministerial meeting in Paris and the June G8 Evian summit.  Distancing himself from some other G8 leaders he also said that he did not agree with those who said that de-regulation was the answer to excess (governmental) bureaucracy, and that it was “technical, not social rigidities that were responsible for low growth in Europe…..while the right to life long learning, education and training has to be guaranteed for all workers”.

The meeting also discussed other issues on the agenda at Evian. On the rules needed to underpin a ‘responsible economy’, the labour leaders called on the G8 should adopt a Declaration setting out what these should be, and called for a legally binding framework for corporate governance, including frameworks that gave workers a voice in corporate decision making; the outlawing of tax havens and so called Flags of Convenience, that lay behind the sinking of the Prestige and other disasters. They also urged that such a G8 Declaration should insist on more effective implementation of the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises. In response President Chirac said that in his view the Summit should represent the shared values of the G8 underpinning a responsible economy, including respect for ILO core labour standards.

As regards the theme of ‘solidarity’, the trade union side urged more progress on debt relief that more had to be done to ensure that NEPAD connected with African workers and their unions. On this, President Chirac feared that globalisation risked creating a two speed society. He wanted to launch a discussion at Evian on “how to make globalization more human, and that it would only be accepted if all individuals see themselves as having a rich future”. On ‘security’ there was agreement on the need to create a “global democratic system” based on multilateralism, even if some of the multilateral institutions had to be modernized.  

President Chirac was also keen to assure the labour leaders that he would carry their message to the other G8 heads of state. He said that it had been particularly important to involve the social partners in preparing the summit, especially trade unions, with their “essential role in reaffirming the social dimension”. Beyond that, and in addition to posting the trade union statement on the official web site, he said that having read the statement he had no reservations about being the “trade union voice at the table in Evian”, and that we would be informed of all outcomes. 

To read President Chirac remarks, click here

TUAC mourns loss of international trade unionist Pekka Aro

TUAC joined international trade unionists and labour organisations in mourning the death of Pekka Aro, an ILO official who passed away in Beijing on Sunday April 6 after a short illness diagnosed as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). 

Aro, 52, started his service to trade unionism in Finland before going on to pursue a distinguished career in the international trade union movement, joining the ILO in 1992.  He will be remembered especially as a pioneer in the use of information and communications technology, his foresight being a major factor in the modernisation of global trade union communications.   

Successful OECD Labour-Management Programme meeting
of trade union experts on making NEPAD
work from the ground up

(Paris, 24 March 2003)

International trade unionists, including delegates from major African labour federations, took part in a successful recent one-day meeting on "Making NEPAD work from the ground up".  Participants said the March 24 meeting, held under TUAC/OECD auspices in close cooperation with ICFTU and WCL went a good way to restoring the focus of NEPAD policy approaches after a period of uncertainty which had raised trade union concerns. 

Much still remains to be done, however, participants warned, but there was now more optimism on the side of labour that NEPAD could become a useful development tool.

Addressing the meeting, Andrew Kailembo, General Secretary of the ICFTU-AFRO, made a series of points on improving NEPAD. 

Among them:

NEPAD would only succeed if it took on board the full participation of stakeholders, including trade unions, and it was essential to see a "bottom-up" policy-making process adopted to ensure popular acceptance at grassroots level, and the commitment of all sections of African society.

He emphasised the following points:
*  A strong commitment and reference to workers' rights as one of the social pillars of NEPAD;
*  A call for African countries to engage in a constructive and thorough consultation process with civil society and trade unions;
*  An institutional framework at NEPAD secretariat level to be set up in order to monitor civil society and trade union participation and engagement;
*  A peer review process to be set up with trade union participation.

 To read the OECD report, click here  .

Unions to establish a new "Radiation" Electronic Forum

(Paris, 25 February 2003)

The decision to create a new trade union electronic forum for "RADIATION" grew out of a meeting held on Tuesday 25 February in Paris between a small trade union TUAC delegation and the Bureau of the Steering Committee of the Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA)

Trade union representatives were: Francesco Dominici (CISL-Italy), John Evans (TUAC Secretariat), Gino Govender (ICEM), Lucien Royer (TUAC Secretariat), and Matti Viialainen (SAK-Finland).

The NEA is the Nuclear Authority for OECD countries. It interacts with the OECD International Energy Agency (IEA) as well as the UN International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which is based in Vienna.

Trade Unions touched upon the attached points but mainly focused on issues related to radiation protection of workers, employment implications, as well as training, education, and skills development.  Some highlights:

**The employment and social issues  related to the decommissioning of nuclear power plants was the subject of considerable discussion, which was initiated by ICEM and based on its experiences with Chernobyl workers in the Ukraine. The impacts of a dwindling critical mass of skill and trained personnel within the industry were raised by CISL-Italy and led to a discussion about training and education programmes.

**Employment and stakeholder involvement issues raised by our SAK-Finland representative speaker led to a general discussion about the need for better quality employment research and for capacity building of workers and trade unions to improve the potential for participation in decision-making.

**The TUAC Secretariat and others raised issues  related to radiation protection of workers and on the need for more cooperation between the NEA and the programmes of the IAEA. The need to integrate the social dimension of sustainable development was also highlighted

The meeting ended with an agreement to seek out ways of continuing the dialogue and with the possibility of organising a fuller joint workshop of trade unions and NEA representatives to discuss these issues further and to explore avenues for long term solutions.

For this reason TUAC has decided to put together a small electronic forum to identify those trade unions interested in Radiation issues, generally, as well as develop a means of communication and consultation for interaction with intergovernmental bodies dealing with nuclear and radiation issues.

Specifically, this group would also with provide guidance on the follow up to the recent NEA meeting with trade unions.

Please provide the full names, as well as communication and address information for the people you wish to nominate to this WP-Radiation Forum.

Feedback on the input by TUAC to the NEA meeting is welcome.

TUAC joins Global Unions' deploration of "rush to war" in Iraq

TUAC today expressed strong support for the Global Unions statement prepared by the ICFTU condemning the "unacceptable and unjustified" launching of the military conflict in Iraq.   The statement said: "Real possibilities for resolving the crisis through peaceful means and with the broadest international support  have been squandered by this rush to war."

Click here for full text of Global Unions statement 

French and International Trade Union and
Employers Organisations join French Officials
in pre Evian G8 Discussions

(Paris, 20 February 2003)

French and international trade union and employers organisations met French officials on February 20 in Paris for preliminary discussions of issues to be raised in the forthcoming G8 summit to be held in Evian, eastern France.

Opening the meeting, President Chirac's diplomatic adviser, Maurice Gourdault-Montagne, said the French G8 Presidency was determined to have a thorough and fruitful dialogue with employers, trade unions and other interested groups in the run-up to the Evian meeting, set for 1-3 June. 

He emphasised that President Chirac was committed to giving priority to the social dimension of globalization. He reported that consultations between the French President and top French business leaders had resulted in an increased number of French companies subscribing to the United Nations Global Compact.

President Chirac would also be meeting with G8 business and trade union leaders on April 25, prior to the Evian conference.  French officials at last week's meeting reiterated that President Chirac saw four main themes for the Evian meeting.   These were:

i) solidarity -- notably actions related to NEPAD, meeting WSSD targets for access to water and sanitation, debt reduction and fighting diseases (such as AIDS, tuberculosis and polio;

ii) responsibility - the key issue being to develop a "socially responsible economy" (sustainable energy resources, prevention of financial markets crises such as in Argentina, and developing responsible corporate ethics and corporate governance);

iii) security - concern to combat terrorism, but further dialogues on policy and actions in the wider G25 context ;

iv) democracy - need to uphold and further democracy as the only viable delivery system to ensure sustainable economic and social progress.

Michel Camdessus, President Chirac's special representative for Africa, in an extensive report on follow-up work since the Genoa summit and the Kananaskis meeting, emphasised the importance of the NEPAD goals, notably the provision of clean water, education and the battle against AIDS.

In discussion, John Evans (TUAC) stressed that trade unionists' discussions involving African trade union leaders on NEPAD had been an important input, but it seemed there had subsequently been no "bottom-up process" in furthering the exchanges. NEPAD had remained a subject for leaders only, which led Evans to ask when the discussion would be extended to consultations with people at grassroots levels. He emphasised that countries were now further away from meeting millennium goals than they were in 2000. Where, he asked, was the G8 action to meet these goals?

Trade Unions to confront Climate and Employment issues at upcoming OECD Meeting

 (Paris, 31 March 2003)

The OECD Environment Policy Committee (EPOC) is to hold a consultation with business, trade unions and civil society organizations next 31 March in Paris on the implementation of its climate change programme and environmental strategy. Adopted in 2001, the OECD’s ‘Environmental Strategy’ contains a “social interface”, which theoretically commits the world’s most industrialised countries to address the social and employment impacts of their environmental programmes, including for climate change mitigation.

The OECD meeting is the first in a series of venues this year at which trade unions will campaign for social and employment transition measures related to mitigation and adaptation responses to climate change.

John Evans, the General Secretary of the Trade Union Advisory Committee to the OECD (TUAC) said that following the Johannesburg earth Summit last year employment issues and climate change would become one of the most important issues facing trade unions involved in the sustainable development arena. He said that last November TUAC had called on OECD’s Environment Ministers to incorporate more closely social and employment considerations in their work and he welcomed the focus of discussions planned for the March meeting in Paris.

The OECD consultation will be the first meeting in a series where employment transition and workplace-based programmes for climate change will be the focus of attention by trade unions. The outcomes of the OECD meeting will be reported to the upcoming UN Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) at the end of April in New York and will lay the trade union ground work for the preparatory meeting of the UN Framework Convention For Climate Change (UNFCCC), scheduled in Bonn next June and for its 9th Conference of the Parties (COP9) due to take place in Milan, Italy, next December.

At COP7 in 2001 trade unions were successful in obtaining support for a social impact review of adaptation impacts of climate change for developing countries in what came to be known as the “Marrakech Accords”. “This, for the first time since the adoption of the Kyoto Protocol, provides some leeway for trade unions to lobby for the institution of social and employment transition measures within climate mitigation”, says Evans.

After the World Summit on Sustainable Development, COP8 agreed to conduct its social impact review during the period leading up to and at the COP9 meeting in Italy next December, where trade unions aim to plan a special lobbying effort.

Evans said he hopes the OECD meeting will put the trade union effort on track for a successful outcome next December in Milan. English and French interpretations will be provided at the meeting.

For more information on these events contact Lucien Royer

Global Unions set meeting on Corporate Social Responsibility,

 (Stockholm 7-8 April)

The ICFTU in co-operation with the Global Unions Federation and TUAC is organising a Global Union meeting on corporate social responsibility, to be hosted by Sweden's LO in Stockholm April 7 and 8.

The aim is to take stock of the different tools and to discuss a trade union approach to them. One session will focus on the OECD Guidelines on Multinational Enterprises and strategies to raise cases with National Contact Points.

The following day in Paris (April 9) TUAC will hold consultations with the OECD Committee on International Investments and Multinational Enterprises (CIME)  

TUAC at Davos and Porto Alegre

Global union leaders, including TUAC representatives, were in action these past days at the twin sites for world economic and social policy discussions, the World Social Forum at Porto Alegre and the World Economic Forum at Davos.

 In a joint statement issued ahead of the two meetings, the Global Unions Group said:

“The international trade union movement calls for urgent action to provide effective governance of the global economy and to guarantee fundamental rights and the creation of decent work.”

It added that the unions have “a common message to Porto Alegre and to Davos. Vision, political will and the necessary capacities must be brought together at the global level to attain development and guarantee decent work for the millions of workers who today live in precariousness and poverty without prospects of a better future.”

The statement emphasised the need for real resource commitments as well as “governance systems to promote our common good, our rights and democracy”.     Unions leaders attending the meetings pledged to “press the (Davos) forum to address the need to globalise social justice” and also to “contribute in the (Porto Alegre meeting) to finding constructive approaches to democratising globalisation in the interests of all working people”.

In Porto Alegre labour leaders took part in a two-day seminar January 24-25 devoted to “Decent work, globalisation with jobs and dignity”.  Sessions debated the following main issues:

Promoting decent jobs

International labour standards, codes of conduct, and corporate social responsibility

Including the social dimension in regional integration agreements in moving towards a people-friendly globalisation

Global governance to democratise the international system.

In Davos, labour participants met the new Brazilian President Lula and debated in sessions with international organisation heads including Donald Johnston (OECD), Klaus Toepfer (UNEP) and Mark Malloch-Brown (UNDP), as well as consultations with IMF deputy managing director Anne Krueger. 

For more information see the Global Unions Website

To read the Press Statement Click here 

Greater priority for growth urged for Europe

Greater priority for economic growth in a stagnating European economy was urged by John Evans, General Secretary of the Paris-based Trade Union Advisory Committee to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.

He was speaking during a session at the World Economic Forum on the European Union’s troubled Growth and Stability Pact.

With the US economy still struggling and a long stagnant Japanese economy now facing minus interest rates in a new effort to stimulate the economy, the prospects of the euro-zone countries in helping world economic recovery are important.

Evans accused the European Central Bank of "fighting yesterday’s war" with its narrow focus on inflation at a time when deflation constitutes the bigger threat.

Europe’s trade unions are willing to support changes in both the Pact and in other areas of structural economic policy, said Evans - provided these are negotiated and socially acceptable.

The Growth and Stability Pact generally requires euro-zone countries to limit budget deficits to no more than 3% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

The two largest European economies - Germany and France - are heading to breach these limits in the face of shrinking economic growth, rising unemployment and falling tax receipts.

The Pact, while flawed, is a logical response to the unusual fiscal situation facing euro-zone countries, said Professor Robert A Mundell, from Columbia University, USA, speaking in the same debate.

The EU’s fiscal stability can easily be undermined by the EU’s largest member countries, he said.

Instead of re-writing the Pact he suggested targeting the budget deficit limits on the business cycle rather than on an annual basis.

Germany’s Finance Secretary of State Caio Koch-Weser accepted that his government - instrumental in drawing up the tough terms of the pact - is the first country to be censured for breaching it.

He said ‘heroic’ efforts had been made to control spending but these efforts had been undermined by falling tax revenues.

He said Germany was open to refining the Pact, perhaps by stressing structural deficits – adjusted for cyclical economic conditions – or by taking differences in national inflation rates into account.