NEWS 1999



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. 


2004 2003| 2002 

TUAC joins condemnation of murder
of leading Iraqi trade unionist

TUAC added its voice to widespread world trade union condemnation of the murder of Hadi Salih, the international secretary of the Iraqi Federation of Trade Unions (IFTU), slain by assassins who broke into  his Baghdad home Tuesday.   

A former printing worker, who had lived in exile but returned to Iraq immediately after the fall of Saddam Hussein and helped found the IFTU, Hadi Salih (56) was active on global union issues and frequently condemned those who used violence and terror in Iraq.  Many international unionists met him last month at the ICFTU World Congress in Japan.     

A steadfast opponent of Saddam Hussein, Hadi was sentenced to death for labour activism in 1969, but served five years in prison and fled the country after his sentence was commuted. 

He lived as a political refugee in Sweden for a number of years before returning to Baghdad after the war began to work tirelessly to relaunch the Iraqi labour movement. 

Global unions face global challenges to unionisation

(Miyazaki, 5-10 December 2004)

TUAC General-secretary John Evans told the ICFTU Congress in Tokyo earlier this week that global unions must confront the challenges posed by the new reality facing international unions to ensure that there is nowhere in the world that trade unions are prevented from operating.    Speaking at the congress which marked reforms in the global unions structure and the creation of the world's new trade union international, the TUAC official said global had three challenges to overcome. 
These were:

(i)      There must be nowhere in the world that is a "no-go" area for trade unions;

(ii)     Unions must ensure that "no single multinational can foolishly boast that it is 'union-free'";

(iii)    It is unions' duty to ensure that not a single worker in this global economy cannot feed his or her family "for the lack of a decent job".

Paying tribute to ICFTU leader Guy Ryder for "steering us towards a more effective and more united united global trade union movement", Evans said that huge changes -- such as the fall of the Berlin wall, and the emergence of China and India as leading world producers -- meant that "in just 15 years the world labour force has doubled, and half of the world's workers are now in countries that have not ratified the ILO conventions on freedom of  association and the right to collective bargaining challenge."

Noting that international organisations like the OECD and G8 clearly shape the environment in which all unions operate, he said ICFTU and TUAC efforts to change the rules of the global economy "are not an add-on luxury" but "an absolute necessity".  

Click here to read full text  

International Union Leaders express concerns for cancellation of plans for China seminar

(December 6, 2004) 

International trade unions expressed deep concern at the decision by the Chinese authorities to cancel plans and postpone at short notice a seminar on socially responsible investment to be held in Beijing under the auspices of the OECD and the Development Research Centre at the State Council of the People’s Republic of China. The visas for participants were also invalidated. The seminar would have been the first occasion bringing together over eighty senior officials from industrialised country governments, China, world trade union leaders, and foreign investors to discuss how the OECD Guidelines on Multinational Enterprises could be applied in practice to raise labour standards in China. The Chinese authorities apparently have cited “inappropriate and inconvenient” timing as the reason for the decision. TUAC General Secretary John Evans, who had intended to take part in the seminar said “this is the right time not the wrong time to discuss labour conditions and the rights of workers in China. Major international brands and retail chains are producing and sourcing more and more of their output in China. The labour standards of Chinese workers are now in the world spotlight and that spotlight is not about to be turned off”. The Multinational Guidelines specify industrialised country governments expectations regarding issues such as working conditions, union recognition and health and safety in multinationals coming from OECD countries wherever they operate in the world. Evans said that trade unions would continue to work to ensure that foreign investors observe the Guidelines throughout the world, including China and to get signatory governments to take their obligations seriously so as to have the Guidelines applied.

Inquiétude des responsables syndicaux internationaux après l’annulation d’un projet de séminaire en Chine

(6 décembre 2004)

Le mouvement syndical international exprime sa vive inquiétude après la décision des autorités chinoises d’annuler et de reporter à la dernière minute un projet de séminaire sur l’investissement socialement responsable prévu à Pékin, sous les auspices de l’OCDE et du Centre de Recherche sur le Développement du Conseil des Affaires d’État de la République populaire de Chine. Les visas pour les participants ont également été annulés. Ce séminaire aurait été la première occasion de réunir plus de 80 personnalités dont des hauts fonctionnaires gouvernementaux des pays industrialisés, de Chine, des responsables du mouvement syndical international, et des investisseurs étrangers pour examiner comment mettre en oeuvre concrètement les Principes directeurs de l’OCDE à l’intention des entreprises multinationales et ainsi améliorer les normes du travail en Chine. Comme raison invoquée, les autorités chinoises auraient indiqué que « le moment était inopportun et mal choisi ». Ayant confirmé sa participation au séminaire, John Evans, secrétaire général du TUAC, a déclaré : « C’est le moment opportun, et non inopportun, d’examiner les conditions de travail et les droits des travailleurs en Chine. De grandes marques internationales et des réseaux de distribution produisent et délocalisent de plus en plus leur production en Chine. Les normes de travail des travailleurs chinois sont aujourd’hui sous les feux de l’actualité internationale, et cette attention n’est certainement pas prête de disparaître ». Les Principes directeurs à l’intention des entreprises multinationales spécifient les attentes des gouvernements des pays industrialisés sur des questions telles que les conditions de travail décentes, la reconnaissance syndicale, la santé et la sécurité, dans les entreprises multinationales des pays de l’OCDE opérant partout dans le monde. « Les syndicats continueront à œuvrer pour s’assurer que les investisseurs étrangers respectent les Principes directeurs partout dans le monde, y compris en Chine, et que les gouvernements signataires prennent leurs engagements au sérieux pour faire appliquer les Principes directeurs », a ajouté John Evans.

International Production-Consumption Meeting Add Employment & Workplaces to Solutions for
Change Decent Employment & Workplace Actions
 become Focus at UNEP/EU International Meeting

(Ostende, Belgium - Saturday 27 November)

A UNEP/EU meeting of 120 stakeholder experts and government representatives from 30 European countries ended in Ostende, Belgium yesterday with a call by the co-chairs to establish a fund for a list of targeted activities, including for transforming "workplaces into sustainable development forerunners" in application of consumption-production objectives.  The concluding statement by the co-chairs Nadine Gouzee of the Belgian Government and Clause Sorensen of the European Commission also proposed to explore a joint government stakeholder forum to guide the implementation of proposals for the next 5 years.

The meeting was hosted by the Belgium Government in consultation with the UN Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA).

In recognizing a challenge for "coupling economic growth to decent job creation and improved livelihood", the meeting called for "better integration of employment and environment policies" and for more dialogue "between stakeholders and government involving employment, consumer, and environment Ministers", for the purposes of promoting synergies over education and green tax reform.

A significant policy recommendation was proposed to "promote workplace-based sustainable production assessment so that all producers, including employers and workers, really participate in the production process".

The trade union delegation attending the meeting were: Jesper-Lund Larsen (Gen. Workers - Denmark), Lucien Royer (ICFTU/TUAC) and Christina Theocari (GSEE - Greece). Estafania Bount from SustainLabour also co-chaired one of the working groups.

During the opening session trade unions highlighted their role for including sustainable development consumption within agreements with employers, joint provisions at the workplace and for monitoring processes engaging workers and employers. The role of the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) and its policies and programmes were also highlighted.

The meeting touched upon issues of concerns expressed by most Agenda 21 Major Group representatives that participated in this "European Stakeholder Meeting", the outcomes of which will be provided as input to CSD13 next April, the upcoming UNEP Governing Council meeting and to the 2nd international review of the Marrakesch process that will be held in September 2005 in Costa Rica.

Workshops at the meeting overwhelmingly suggested that sustainable development production-consumption strategies be placed as a core element within an integrated sustainable development framework for the economic, environment and social dimensions. They urged more emphasis and research for understanding and addressing social impacts, especially poverty issues. "Growth, competitiveness and jobs can only be successful if embedded in a framework of sustainable development, so as to ensure economic and social development within the carrying capacity of the ecosystems", said the closing paper in identifying the first of its key challenges for the future.

New strategies for workplaces were welcomed by several workshops along with support for worker and trade union involvement with employers. One workshop spearheaded a proposal for more and better stakeholder involvement identifying, among others, the involvement of "workers, employers and trade unions in workplace-based project.

For more information

TUAC Plenary pans Korea for failure to honour union reform pledges   

The -TUAC plenary session meeting held in Paris on 22 November condemned  the Korean government for failing to reform existing laws on industrial relations to bring them into line with internationally-accepted standards current since 1996 when Korea joined the OECD, the 30-strong international grouping of advanced industrial nations.

TUAC notes with concern that the Korean government has failed to fulfil its commitment and also disregards the recommendations of the OECD's special monitoring process.  In particular the Plenary session criticized  the government also for not allowing public servants to join unions, to go on strike, or to take industrial action when they feel it is needed. Moreover,   the TUAC resolution calls for an end to arbitrary arrests of trade unionists, and demands the removal of legislation that makes it impossible for employers to pay trade union officials on a full-time basis. 

The TUAC resolution also condemns the ongoing suppression of the KGEU, and demands immediate cancellation of all undemocratic measures brought in to discriminate against the union, notably the illegal issuance of arrest warrants and acts of illegal detention.

Click here to read full text 

Trade Unions Challenge COP10 to Inspire Public Support
for Climate Measures by Addressing Social & Employment Issues

(Brussels, Paris)

Three of the world’s largest trade union bodies are urging government representatives attending the next climate change Conference of the Parties (COP10) 6-17 December in Argentina to firmly entrench social and employment transition measures in their negotiations, as a way of preventing further slippage from WSSD commitments, and in particular to arrest a trend toward confining climate change responses to disaster management at the national level.

Guy Ryder, General Secretary of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU), John Evans, General Secretary of the Trade Union Advisory Committee to the OECD (TUAC) and John Monks, General Secretary of the European Trade Union Confederation are convinced that an insufficient focus by past COP’s on social issues has led to a situation where effective mitigation and prevention responses are in danger of being sidelined by countries in favour of more limited crisis management approaches.

The world’s trade unions, they say, want to work with governments and other stakeholders to reverse this trend – and this especially as a lead up beyond the first commitment period after 2012.

The trade union submission to COP10 is attached: “SECURING CONSENSUS THRUOGH SOCIAL & EMPLOYMENT TRANSITION FOR CLIMATE CHANGE”. It is also available at:

According to Ryder, the coming into force of the Kyoto Protocol provides COP10 negotiators with a significant opportunity to widen the scope for mitigation, adaptation and greenhouse gas reduction measures, and to lead national response strategies that go far beyond the type of risk management objectives that are narrowly defined by private insurance and trading schemes.

“As important as these may be, much more must be done to highlight the role of the State, especially in regard to investment, procurement, regulation, employment transition and overall coordination of activities” said the union leaders. “We therefore encourage a much broader and more balanced approach towards mitigation, adaptation and response measures”.


In their Submission, trade unions make the case for outcomes that encourage nations to give full attention to livelihood, equitable access, human displacement and social security issues within their terms of references. All of these, they argue, require that employment transition be incorporated as a central component of any scenario for change, and as THE means of addressing world poverty.

“Positive advances towards these ends at COP10 could finally provide trade union and community leaders with the concrete tools they need to convince the public that support for UNFCCC will translate into positive employment impacts in the long term, and with assurances that their members’ livelihoods will not be jeopardized by measures to adapt to or combat climate change,” said the labour leaders. “Proper employment transition programmes must be a basic ingredient of any national and international strategies, supported by trustworthy financial and economic instruments which are integrated with emissions trading and related Kyoto mechanisms.”

“Far too little has been done by UNFCCC meetings in the past to assure working people that their employment and broader social concerns are being addressed. As a result, public support for action on climate change continues to be inhibited by fear of loss of livelihood, lowering of living standards, and perceived threats to vital support systems and other elements of the social fabric. The social impacts of climate change and mitigation measures continue to be misunderstood, and it is hard to expect trust and acceptance in such a climate.”

“With the ratification of the Kyoto Accord by the Russian Federation, COP10 has been granted an historical opportunity to inspire new approaches for sustainable development. Negotiators can best capitalise on this by working in a determined fashion to integrate social and employment factors into mitigation programmes for climate change, as well as adaptation and response measures.”


On Thursday 16 December, trade unions will host a side event at COP10, in which country delegates, experts, and representatives of international agencies will join with trade union delegates to discuss climate change issues affecting the world of work. The event, entitled Climate Change and the World of Work, will feature proposals for cooperative endeavours that would allow trade unions to play a more positive role in building support for climate change measures, at the same time as they protect the interests of working people.

The Side Event will also mark the culmination of a 3-day workshop that will equip trade unionists from across the South American continent with some of the tools they need to play a proactive role in negotiations involving the Clean Development and other Kyoto Mechanisms. The workshop will be sponsored by SustainLabour, an international trade union-based foundation dedicated to strengthening the social and labour dimension, and to promoting the effective involvement of trade unionists in sustainable development.

For more information contact: Lucien Royer :

TUAC protests to Korean President Roh about “destructive”
anti-union police action

TUAC General Secretary John Evans has protested to Korean President Roh Moo-Hyun about Korean police arrests of trade unionists on November 6 to 8 and 14-15.    He called on the Korean head of state to end police repression and raids on the KGEU union and harassment of union officials that have taken place in blatant disregard of Korean commitments to respect union rights made at the ILO and OECD.   This parallels a similar complaint by the International Confederation of Free Trade-unions.                   

The TUAC letter says: “I urge you to instruct all relevant agencies of your Government to refrain from interfering in the KGEU’s internal affairs, to release any union members still detained further to these police operations, and to cease forthwith any intimidation, threats and pressure against trade unions and their members.”    It emphasises that these issues are being raised with the OECD, which Korea joined in 1996, pledging to observe accepted practice and obligations regarding union rights as commonly in force throughout the OECD area. 

Expressing “serious concern” about the Korean Government’s issuing of arrest warrants against KGEU President KIM Young-Gil and General Secretary AHN Byeong-Soon, the letter states: “It is obvious that the Government tried to prevent KGEU from holding a union ballot on industrial action, and, indeed, tried to destroy the union altogether.”

Pressure on the Korean Government to end its repressive anti-union policies is being maintained in Paris next week with the question of trade union rights in Asian countries high on the agenda of TUAC and OECD meetings in the forthcoming  period.

Click here for text of TUAC letter to President Roh.    

Trade Union Efforts to Ban Asbestos Worldwide Gather Pace

Representatives from global unions gather in Brussels, Belgium next week for their annual meeting of the Occupational Health Safety and the Environment (OHSE) Working Party to take forward international efforts to secure a worldwide ban on the production , commercialisation and use of asbestos.

The campaign to ban asbestos is spearheaded by global unions and the case supported by analytical work, including national industrial profiles, which has been carried out by TUAC in Paris. Within the context of next week's meeting trade unionists are expected to draw up communication and policy strategies to inform segments of world opinion that still lack information on the dangers of continuing to use asbestos, a known cancer-causing agent.

For further information, please contact Lucien Royer at TUAC ( )

Global Unions call for un system to boost cooperation
 with organized labour  

Leaders of three global union organisations have written to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to support his efforts to improve the input of civil society to the UN system, following up the Eminent Persons Report on Civil Society Relations.

The three, Guy Ryder of the ICFTU, John Evans of TUAC, and Phil Jennings of Global Unions, welcome the UN Secretary-General’s recommendation for “a more organised and sustained dialogue” between the UN and the NGO Community.  But they go on to raise a number of issues of specific concern to unions because of their distinct identity as significant actors within civil society.

They highlight the following points:

-   Global unions have a representativity in numerical terms, as well as a geographic, demographic and sectoral spread, representing a gender-balanced constituency that includes hundreds of millions of men and women workers;

-   Union activities cover the promotion and protection of human rights, as well as rights at work;

Unions are mass-based organisations owned by their members, financed by their members’dues, which makes them unique stakeholders in decision-making;

Unions have very diverse roles as regards interventions and advocacy, covering representational issues at the level of firms, trade sectors, and policy-making at local, national, regional and global levels.

The three signatories make specific recommendations to the UN Secretary-General, in particular:

-   The creation of an Office of Constituency Engagement and Partnerships, steered at a high level by an Under Secretary-General

  Increased cooperation between global unions and the UN’s policy-making processes;

 The UN should set up an advisory body to agree on governance standards for its multi-stakeholder constituencies;

  The UN Secretary-General should meet annually with the leaders of Global Unions. 

Trade unions welcome new anti-poverty initiative at U.N.

(New York 20 September 2004)

A new initiative to overcome poverty and increase financing for development received strong backing from the international trade union movement today. Backed by the Brazilian President Lula, the initiative was launched today at a special meeting of world leaders at the United Nations in New York.

“We share President Lula’s view that the levels of poverty and hunger in the world today are utterly intolerable,” stated Guy Ryder, General Secretary of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU), the world’s largest trade union body, ahead of
addressing President Lula's special session at the U.N. this afternoon (20th September). “The world trade union movement can play a fundamental role in mobilising hundreds of millions of workers around the world in a global campaign to end poverty and attain the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The blueprint for that campaign’s objectives should be the report of the World Commission on the Social Dimensions of Globalisation, launched earlier this year at the International Labour Organisation (ILO).”

The World Commission report was prepared by 26 high-level members including trade union leaders John Sweeney, President of the AFL-CIO and President of TUAC (Trade Union Advisory Committee to the OECD); and Zwelinzima Vavi, General Secretary of COSATU in South Africa.

“We need innovative sources of funding to raise resources for development spending,” stated John Evans, General Secretary of TUAC. “Proposals like the International Finance Facility suggested by Gordon Brown require full support from the international community, as part of a new joint effort. So do the innovative proposals raised in the report to President Jacques Chirac for new international initiatives to boost development financing and to meet the MDGs.”

The union leaders stressed that decent work is the strongest tool world leaders can use in implementing effective anti-poverty measures. Hundreds of millions in the world's workforce are unable to find productive employment, which is an unacceptable waste of the world’s most valuable resource human beings. Historically high levels of youth unemployment in many countries are creating the seeds of a social catastrophe that risks exploding at any time. Women face particular difficulties as a result of the discrimination they have faced in the past and to which they continue to be exposed.

“The key to the reducing poverty is the provision of more employment and an improvement in the quality and remuneration of employment,” said Ryder. “These concepts are all present in the ILO’s definition of decent work. Dignity and justice at the workplace – requiring respect for core labour standards - is essential if workers are to receive a fair share of the resources their work creates, and so escape from poverty and contribute to social development.”

Ryder and Evans emphasised the importance of the World Commission on the Social Dimensions of Globalisation.

“All organisations in the multilateral system need to deal with international economic and labour policies in a more integrated and consistent way as a foundation for economic development and social justice,” stated Ryder. “The significance of the World Commission’s report is that it offers all of us a real chance to make a new start on globalisation, in order to achieve the Millennium Development Goals”.

International unions call for respect for migrant workers rights

(Suzhou, China, 16-17 Sept 2004)

Giving a keynote address at a recent Asia Europe Foundation (ASEF) seminar in Suzhou, China, on International Migrations and Human Rights, TUAC General Secretary John Evans  made a number of points on the role of trade unions in protecting and promoting the rights of migrant workers. Among them:

-   For trade unions, migrant workers do not constitute a “problem”.  They are a consequence of imbalanced and at time unjust world economic development, particularly resulting from pressures brought by globalisation;

-    Most migrants do not leave their homelands out of preference, but rather to seek decent work which is unavailable at home, thus the need is to “take jobs to the people and not take the people to the jobs”;

-    Out of an estimated 175 million people living outside their country of origin, about 100 million are labour migrants, as distinct from refugees and asylum seekers. Labour migrants represent about 2.3 per cent of the world’s population, and should be able to decide voluntarily where they wish to work instead of being forced to migrate of necessity;

Increased development aid from industrialised countries to developing countries, amounting at least to the United Nations target level of 0.7 per cent of aid donors’ GNP, would help to increase job creation in developing countries and thus reduce the need for migration which is often an irregular, unregulated phenomenon. The joint initiative along these lines launched by Brazilian President Lula and French President Chirac merits wide support, said Evans (see news item above).

He listed a number of trade union moves to assist migrating workers to integrate themselves in new work-site and residential environments offering protection of human rights and decent working conditions.  He commented that while most people thought that these moves applied to the international labour scene, it was to be remembered that migration from rural areas in Chinese regions to cities was a major national issue because of the huge challenges it raised, not least respect for workers’ rights in China.

He concluded by proposing a set of principles covering migration issues be adopted in agreement between governments, labour unions and international labour bodies such as the ILO, and he called on OECD to further develop its role in providing economic analysis that will help lead to the elaboration of appropriate policies in the field of migration.

Click here for full text of Evans’ intervention    

OECD’s Education at a Glance 2004 : 
 Some good news but no room for complacency

The 2004 edition of the OECD’s Education at a Glance (released 14 September) reports that almost all OECD countries have seen a rise in the education levels of their citizens over the past decade, and in some countries it has been spectacular.  Also, more young citizens of OECD nations are completing university courses and other types of higher education than ever before. 

Presented simultaneously at press conferences in Paris, London, Berlin, Rome and Washington, the 459-page report contains detailed statistics on education in the OECD’s 30 Member countries, with a particular focus this year on higher education.   It highlights the fact that progress has also been achieved in reducing the gender gap in educational qualifications.   Younger women today are far more likely to have completed a tertiary qualification than women were able to 30 years ago; indeed in 19 of the 30 countries, more than twice as many women aged 55 to 64 have done so.   Furthermore, in 21 out of 27 OECD countries with comparable data the number of women graduating today from university-level programmes is equal to or exceeds the of number of men.  Other highlights from the report’s findings include the following:

-         Higher education qualifications are widely shown to help graduates and other qualified students in securing employment, and also provide them with improved outcomes in terms of the salaries they can earn;

-         Total OECD public spending on education averages about 5.3 per cent of GDP

-         But there is a steady increase in the share of private financing of education (from individual or corporate sources), especially in certain countries (Canada, Korea and the US, where private funding now equals about 2.5 per cent of gdp), a point that is viewed with rising concern among some educationists as an implied threat to maintaining levels of public education, with possible deprivation of less wealthy students;

-         Women tend to have lower earnings than men in all OECD countries, whatever their educational levels – their average earnings being 60 per cent of men’s rates for non-graduates and 65 pre cent for women with upper secondary or tertiary qualifications.

The date also show that educational progress has been uneven across countries and that some have fallen significantly behind, thus potentially compromising their future ability to keep up with economic and social progress.    Thus, public and private spending on educational institutions increased in 17 out of 18 OECD countries by more than 5 per cent between 1995 and 2001, yet these increases have failed to keep pace with the growth in national income.

The fact that current trends of financing education and training are in striking contrast to the rhetoric about their increasing importance is a point of serious concern.   It is for that reason that TUAC calls upon Education Ministers to design policies  in order to :

(1)   increase the level of investment in human resource development, because failure to do so in the long run will be still more costly, and

(2)   ensure that schools are equipped  and teachers trained to prepare student and pupils for the knowledge-based economy.  

TUAC Workshop on Developing the use of OECD Guidelines
Multinational Enterprises by European Works Councils

(Paris, 20-21 September 2004)

With the support of ETUC and the European Commission, TUAC is running a project aiming to raise awareness of the OECD guidelines for MNEs with European Works Councils.   To help the project to develop synergies between the Guidelines and EWCs, TUAC held a preparatory workshop in Paris on 20-21 September, which is to be followed by four national workshops to be held over the forthcoming 18 months.

The preparatory workshop, bringing together participants from different sectors and trade union organisations in a first discussion of linkages between the Guidelines and EWCs, outlined the work programme for the four subsequent training workshops.  It identified trainers, EWC representatives and others that can play a part in the workshops.  

TUAC Evaluation of OECD Employment Outlook July 2004

Responding to an OECD Ministerial request made in 2003, the OECD’s recently released “Employment Outlook”, contains a reassessment of the Paris-based organisation’s Jobs Strategy which was originally published some ten years ago. 

When it was first issued, the Jobs Strategy was billed as a “blueprint for labour market reform” with the particular policy objective of cutting high and persistent unemployment.  Interestingly, the reassessment of the Strategy provides a more balanced approach to the issues than were seen in a number of the interpretations publicized over the past ten years.   It is emphasized that the pursuit of more and better jobs, as the central objective of employment and labour market policy, “needs to be combined with other social objectives, in particular adequate social protection, a better reconciliation of work and family life, and equity outcomes” (p. 12).  Moreover, the OECD now admits that some at least of the original Jobs Strategy recommendations actually “pose a challenge to social protection” (ibid).

The most important conclusions of the Employment Outlook 2004 are the following:

-                Continuation of the current growth, already quite strong in certain OECD Member countries, would leave unemployment rates in many countries higher then they were in the 1970s and 1980s (p. 11)

-                Hours per capita and hours per worker developed very differently in most OECD countries during 1970-2000.  In countries where data are available, the tendency for average hours per worker to decline during 1990-2002 was largely due to the rising incidence of part-time jobs.  Furthermore, countries where workers tend to work fewer hours tend to have above-average employment rates (pp 48-49);

-                Countries with lower hours per worker also tend to have above-average productivity (notably the US, France, Belgium, Germany, Netherlands, Ireland and Italy (p 29);

-        The study of the effects of employment protection legislation (EPL) produces no compelling evidence that EPL, considered by some as a key factor in generating labour market rigidities, is reducing overall employment rates and increasing unemployment.  Taking a more balanced approach, the Employment Outlook 2004 acknowledges that EPL is welfare-improving by protecting workers from labour market uncertainties over a limited period of time, and causing firms to internalise some of the social costs of their dismissal decisions.  The chapter concludes that a “combination of some (EPL) provisions ……… could contribute to a better functioning of the labour market” (p.99) ;

-                A detailed comparative analysis of the organisation and evolution of collective bargaining in OECD countries since 1970, presented in Chapter 3, concludes that wage moderation is by no means a magic bullet to reduce unemployment.  It also reports that wage moderation since 1970 has entailed increased earnings inequality and wage differentials in a number of countries (p. 129), and finds that “high union density and bargaining coverage……..tend to go hand in hand with lower overall wage inequality”(p. 130).

-        Chapter 4 looks at adult learning, finding that the importance of education and training for labour market performance appears to have increased, notably at the individual level;

-        The final chapter focuses on “informal”, “undeclared” or “underground” employment, finding mixed evidence for a trend increase in the size of the informal economy, but recording that relatively ineffectual social protection systems have been found to be a major cause of undeclared work and large informal sectors (p 228).

TUAC welcomes the acknowledgement that EPL is welfare-improving, and stresses that the job security provided by EPL is conducive to investment in training by both employers and workers.  Two important conclusions in the report, identified by TUAC are, first, that specific forms of EPL are consistent with good employment practice, and, secondly,  the current reassessment of the Jobs Strategy as a so-called blueprint for labour market reform,  must take into account that efforts to implement labour market deregulation, have not – in contrast to assertions to the contrary – led to an impressive performance regarding growth and employment. 

Above all, the current reassessment of the Strategy must examine the key linkage of growth-oriented macroeconomic policy and good employment performance.

Click here for the full text of the TUAC Evaluation

TUAC/ETUC project on developing use of OECD MNE Guidelines
by European Works Councils to be launched

TUAC is organising a workshop to launch a project on encouraging European Works Councils (EWCs) to develop the use of the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises. It will be held in Paris at OECD headquarters on 20 and 21 September 2004.

The TUAC/ETUC a project, which is been supported by the European Commission, aims to raise awareness of the Guidelines among EWCs, notably by developing synergies between the Guidelines and EWCs.  The Guidelines can strengthen the role of EWCs and help resolve problems that can arise at company level.  At the same time, EWCs can enforce the Guidelines by publicizing and promoting them, as well as contributing to their implementation.   

This first workshop will bring together participants from a number of different sectors and trade union organisations to initiate a discussion on the linkages between the Guidelines and EWCs.  What role, if any, can EWCs play in the promotion and implementation of the Guidelines?  How can the Guidelines be used to address difficulties and challenges facing EWCs?   The development of best practices will be discussed, as well as possible roles for Global and European Works Councils in initiating framework agreements. 

In all, five workshops will be held, to train trade union officials responsible for training and representative of EWCs in the European Union on how to make EWCs more effective and operational.

Further information is available from Veronica Nilsson the TUAC Secretariat.

New challenges on social responsibility what role for ISO?

(Stockholm 21-22 June)

The growth of Foreign Direct Investment as the largest single motor of globalisation has made the behaviour of multinational corporations an issue of central importance for trade unions.

Global unions must defend workers’ interests or ensure that these interest do not conflict  in both the North and the South. 

This example of the growing complexity facing global unions in defending the interests of trade unionists in the North and the South was cited by TUAC General Secretary John Evans at a recent conference on social responsibility in Stockholm.  He told a gathering organised by the International Standardisation Organisation (ISO) that included the ICFTU and national unions as well as business groups, that international rules were urgently needed to protect companies that follow the “high road” and base their competition on good environmental and labour standards, and to penalise companies that follow the “low road” by, for example, undercutting labour standards.

Trade unions are pursuing a five-point strategy to achieve better labour rules at the international level.  These are designed to:

-        Guarantee fundamental human rights at the workplace through binding international regulation, notably at the ILO;

-                Establish enforceable intergovernmental regulation such on OECD Guidelines on Multinational Enterprises covering accountability of corporations  and their employment practices;

-                Create a negotiating space in international industrial regulations through the conclusion of global framework agreements between global union federations and multinational corporations

-                Use market power such as the influence of workers’ savings or consumer pressure to ensure there is a viable business case for  socially responsible investment;

-                And use the regional space for regulation created by the European process  of regional integration

ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, are respected.  It also means ensuring that enforceable rules are achieved to cover the activities of multinational companies. In this area the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises are a valuable tool, offering a non-legally binding series of rules that set out governmental expectations in 38 signatory countries and thus carries a certain moral force.  Trade unions have sought to implement the Guidelines through raising cases with so-called National Contact Points where over the last three years 60 cases have now been raised.   

Pressure on enterprises to become sustainable is undoubtedly rising through such consumer moves as to banning the buying of products from “low road” companies, or through stockholders’ actions to “keep their company clean” in terms of social  and employment practices.   These movements have received powerful support in recent times through the pressures applied by workers’ pension funds, able to bring in or take out huge investments to show their financial muscle and force delinquent enterprises to take “high road” company decisions.    

In this situation, what is the role for ISO asked the TUAC’s John Evans. Given the crowded agenda of existing initiatives, there would be little support for adding to the list of standards already in place or under discussion, said Evans. The value-added for ISO in this area would be the elaboration of  a guidance document showing clearly what international standards already exist.   The ISO could then make proposals on how to apply them at company level, how to translate them to management systems, how to report on them by   encouraging the Global Reporting Initiative, and thereby encourage the focus of work at the ILO.

The OECD to negotiate new Corporate Governance Guidelines for State Owned Assets – TUAC response

Following the revised OECD Principles of Corporate Governance adopted in May 2004, the OECD is now negotiating a new set of Guidelines for the Corporate Governance of State Owned Assets. Following a meeting in March 2004, governments participating to the OECD Working Group on Privatisation and State Owned Assets are considering a draft proposal of Guidelines presented by the OECD Secretariat on 18 May 2004. The Working Group will meet again in October 2004 along side consultation meetings with OECD and non-OECD stakeholders. The new Guidelines are expected to be adopted at the 2005 OECD Ministerial Council.

State owned enterprises (SOEs) cover a diverse range of legal statuses – from listed joint stock companies to government arms length agencies – and different economic forms – from competitive commercial delivery to monopolistic public service delivery. As noted by the OECD “SOEs may still represent up to 20 % of the value added, around 10 % of the employment, and as much as 40% of market capitalisation in some OECD countries”. Outside of the OECD, SOEs may represent even larger shares of the economy.

The TUAC is actually participating in the negotiations and the Secretariat has prepared detailed comments and proposals of amendments to the May draft for consideration by the OECD Working Group. In the overview of the comments, TUAC notes the following :

·        The Guidelines should call for governance structures that are tailored to account for differing SOEs and those non-market based obligations they may be required to fulfil. The governance of state owned assets stands at the cross road of corporate governance and public governance, of market competition and delivery of public services. One of the key challenges facing the negotiators is to find a balanced approach between public and corporate governance systems.

·        The Guidelines should not pre-judge, nor confine wider sovereign government responsibilities, including industrial and restructuring policies and public ownership programmes. They must not promote nor be viewed as leading to privatisation.

·        They should inform on the widespread practice of worker representation on SOE board of directors across the OECD and in many developing and transition countries. Sixteen out of thirty OECD member states have provisions for employee representation in state owned enterprises.

·        The negotiation process should ensure participation of relevant non-OECD based governments and stakeholders. When adopted the new Guidelines are expected to influence as much OECD and non-OECD countries; a developing and transition country perspective must be taken account in the process.

TUAC affiliates and other interested trade unions wishing to know more, or become involved in the TUAC work should contact Roy Jones (  & Pierre Habbard ( at the TUAC Secretariat.

The revised OECD Principles of corporate governance 2004
- Continuing action on corporate governance reform needed.

Ministers attending the OECD Ministerial Council formally adopted the OECD's revised version of the Principles of corporate governance. This brings an end to a year-long review process that has come at times of repeated corporate and financial scandals and widespread public distrust of the corporation in OECD countries and beyond. Despite some improvements in the revised Principles, TUAC remains convinced that much more needs to be done beyond the outcome of the review to address tomorrow’s challenges of corporate governance policy reform. These include: shareholders’ responsibility to be long term informed owners, tightened control over director compensation, increased diversity of board composition, stronger rules to prevent conflicts of interests. Separation of chair and CEO functions must become a basic requirement of checks and balance of the governing body of corporations. There was no agreement between governments to address these issues in the revised Principles. More important therefore than the actual outcome, it is ability of the governments, responsible investors, workers and other stakeholders to continue dialogue at the international level on corporate governance and accountability reform. TUAC reaffirms its support for high quality international standards on corporate governance and accountability and will continue to press for further action in these areas.

To read the full statement click  here 

Révision 2004 des Principes OCDE de gouvernement d'entreprise - La réforme du gouvernement d'entreprise ne s'arrête pas là

Les Ministres participants au Conseil Ministeriels de l'OCDE ont officiellement adoptés la version révisée des Principes de gouvernement d'entreprise . Ceci met fin à un processus de révision d'un an qui s'est tenu dans un contexte de scandales financiers à répétition et de défiance du public à l'égard de l'entreprise dans les pays de l'OCDE et au-delà. En dépit de quelques améliorations, le TUAC reste convaincu que la réforme ne s'arrête pas au résultat du processus de révision et que bien d'autres actions sont nécessaires pour relever les défis en matière de gouvernement d'entreprise, dont : la responsabilité des actionnaires d'être actifs, informés et d'agir dans l'intérêt long terme de l'entreprise, le contrôle renforcé des rémunérations des dirigeants, la diversité des membres du conseil d'administration, des règles strictes de prévention des conflits d'intérêts. En outre, la séparation des fonctions de président du CA et de directeur général doit être considérée comme une condition de base pour une répartition saine des pouvoirs au sein de l'instance de direction et de supervision de l'entreprise. Sur ces points, il n'y a pas eu d'accord entre les Etats membres de l'OCDE pour réviser les Principes. Plus que le résultat acquis, c'est la capacité des Etats, des investisseurs responsables, des travailleurs et des autres parties prenantes à continuer le dialogue au niveau international sur la réforme de la gouvernance et des responsabilités de l'entreprise. Le TUAC renouvelle son soutien à des normes internationales de qualité pour la gouvernance et la responsabilité de l'entreprise et continuera à faire pression pour la réforme.

Pour lire la déclaration complète cliquer ici 

Trade unions concerned at lack of a social dimension
 at the UNCTAD XI conference

(Sao Paolo, 17 June 2004)

Trade unions attending the UNCTAD XI Conference in Sao Paulo, Brazil have called on the organization to put jobs creation and poverty eradication as its central mission. The ICFTU (International Confederation of Free Trade Unions) and TUAC (Trade Union Advisory Committee to the OECD) warned against UNCTAD becoming a foreign investment promotion agency. Investing in people and good governance is needed more than bidding wars to get firms to invest. More effective international rules over foreign direct investment to ensure that labour rights are respected were also needed. The unions called on governments to enhance the OECD Guidelines on Multinational Enterprises and to comply with the ILO Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work.

Furthermore, the ICFTU regrets the narrow focus given to the policy coherence issue by UNCTAD, and stresses the importance of coherence between the different international organizations beyond the trade and finance institutions. Clear commitment by UNCTAD to play a key role in coherence initiatives as recommended by the ILO´s World Commission on the Social Dimensions of Globalisation is needed together with support for the establishment of a Globalisation Policy Forum.

The ICFTU also stressed the important role UNCTAD can and must play in undertaking trade liberalization impact assessments as reflected in the plan of action, but criticized the absence of any assessment of the social effects of trade liberalization. The World Commission Report on the Social Dimensions of Globalization has shown that these aspects will however be crucial in addressing poverty eradication and sustainable development.

 The ICFTU welcomes the statements by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, UNCTAD Secretary-General Rubens Ricupero, and the President of Brazil Lula da Silva, to reestablish a link between trade and employment. It is time to give globalisation a more human face. It is time to put employment at the centre of development and to make decent work a global goal.

To read the full ICFTU-TUAC statement click        

Les syndicats préoccupés par l'absence d'une dimension
sociale à la onzième conférence de la

 (Sao Paolo, le 17 juin 2004)

Les syndicats qui ont assisté à la Onzième Conférence de la CNUCED ont appelé cette institution à placer la création d’emploi et l’éradication de la pauvreté au centre de sa mission. La Confédération internationale des syndicats libres (CISL) et la Commission syndicale consultative auprès de l’OCDE (CSC-OCDE) ont averti la Conférence du risque de voir la CNUCED se convertir en une agence de promotion des investissements étrangers. Investir dans les gens et la bonne gouvernance est bien plus important que se livrer à des guerres concurrentielles pour attirer les investisseurs. Pour garantir le plein respect des droits des travailleurs, il est impératif de mettre en place et faire appliquer des règles plus efficaces à l’échelon international en matière d’investissement étranger direct. Les syndicats ont appelé les gouvernements à améliorer les Principes directeurs de l’OCDE sur les entreprises multinationales et à se conformer à la Déclaration de l'OIT relative aux Principes et droits fondamentaux au travail.

La CISL déplore en outre le peu d’importance accordée par la CNUCED à la question de la cohérence des politiques, elle insiste sur l’importance de la cohérence entre les diverses organisations internationales, par-delà les institutions commerciales et financières. Il incombe à la CNUCED de s’engager sans équivoque à jouer un rôle clef dans les initiatives de cohérence, conformément aux recommandations de la Commission mondiale de l’OIT sur la dimension sociale de la mondialisation, et de soutenir l’établissement d’un Forum sur la politique de mondialisation.

La CISL insiste sur l’importance du rôle que la CNUCED doit jouer dans les évaluations de l’impact de la libéralisation des échanges, telles qu’elles sont décrites dans son programme d’action. Elle critique l’absence d’une évaluation des répercussions sociales de la libéralisation du commerce. Le rapport de la Commission mondiale sur la dimension sociale de la mondialisation a démontré que ces aspects revêtent une importance cruciale pour l’éradication de la pauvreté et le développement durable.

La CISL s’est félicitée des déclarations de Kofi Annan, secrétaire général des Nations unies, de Rubens Ricupero, secrétaire général de la CNUCED, et du président brésilien Lula da Silva sur le rétablissement d’un lien entre le commerce et l’emploi. Il est grand temps de donner un visage plus humain à la mondialisation. Il est grand temps de placer l’emploi au centre de l’ordre du jour du développement et de faire du travail décent un objectif à l’échelon mondial.   

“G8 leaders lost at Sea Island”

(14 June 2004)

Trade unions commenting on the outcome of the G8 Summit said it was a wasted opportunity for building multilateralism and taking action for the world’s poor. Speaking after the Summit, Guy Ryder, General Secretary of the ICFTU, said: “the Summit was a wasted opportunity to take action for the world’s poor and to get back on track to meet the Millennium Development Goals”. Commenting on the fact that President Bush refused to meet with a trade union delegation on the eve of the Summit, the first refusal by a host Head of Government in 27 years, John Evans, General Secretary of TUAC said: “President Bush has shown total disrespect for the views of millions of working people by refusing consultation before a major meeting. It is particularly worrying, at a critical time in multilateral relations, when concerns over jobs and security are intense in all G8 countries and beyond, that he should slam the door in this way.” Nevertheless, the final Summit outcomes did recognize the importance of trade unions in the Middle East. This recognition is seen as significant by the international trade union movement, which is working intensively for full respect of labour standards in the region, and helping workers in the Middle East to build and develop their own democratic and effective trade unions.

To read the full TUAC Evaluation, click here  

Achieving a fair globalisation is 'crucial to the survival
of our societies and economies’ – TUAC General Secretary

(Geneva 11 June 2004)

Speaking on June 11 at the ILO Conference, TUAC General Secretary John Evans said that “the challenge of achieving fair globalisation is crucial to the very survival of both our societies and our economies”.

Focusing his remarks on the ILO Director General’s follow-up statement to the World Commission’s report on the Social Dimension of Globalisation, John Evans highlighted that the World Commission had rightly pointed to the failure to ensure that globalisation was managed to serve human needs. He emphasised that the report was right to claim “key international negotiations are deadlocked and international commitments go largely unfulfilled”.

He went on to say that “many workers (see) globalisation used as a concept to justify delocalisation, reductions of wages and benefits, and violations of the ILO’s fundamental rights at work”.  As proof the world was now further from achieving the UN’s millennium development goals on poverty reduction than it was when they were first agreed.

Furthermore, “the failure of the Sea Island G8 (…) to even treat the social agenda, although not surprising is disturbing and must be a warning to all”.  Equally, important and unfulfilled promises now on the table at Monterrey and Johannesburg “are in danger of being forgotten”.

The TUAC official stressed “We have to convince the finance, economics and trade ministers that meeting the challenge of achieving fair globalisation is crucial to the very survival of both our societies and our economies.”   The industrialised nations should take a lead and rebalance the world economy through coordinated policies to boost growth and help the poor.  New resources were required to fund development, and labour institutions, principally trade unions, needed strengthening in order to give the poor the basic rights to organise and bargain collectively.

John Evans pledged that TUAC would continue to press the OECD for increased cooperation between it and the ILO, guaranteeing respect for ILO-agreed labour rights in all OECD countries, notably the Republic of Korea where freedom of association violations have been condemned by the ILO.  He said “We expect the new government in Korea to act rapidly and live up to the country’s international commitments.” That applies equally in the OECD outreach work with non-members countries.

 To read the full speach clik here  

G8 Labour Unions express dismay at President Bush’s refusal to hear working people’s viewpoint

(Paris 8 June 2004)

The head of the Trade Union Advisory Committee (TUAC) to the OECD, representing 70 million workers in 30 nations, including members of trade unions in the G8 countries, expressed dismay today at President Bush’s refusal to meet with an international trade union delegation ahead of the June 8-10 G8 Summit.

It was the first refusal by a host Head of Government to meet with labour leaders on the eve of a G8 Summit in 27 years (full list attached). Even the late President Ronald Reagan, former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and President George H.W. Bush agreed to hold discussions with international union leaders before the G8 Summits they hosted in 1983, 1984 and 1990, respectively.

Speaking as the Sea Island summit began, TUAC General Secretary John Evans said, “President Bush has shown total disrespect for the views of millions of working people by refusing consultation before a major meeting. It is particularly worrying, at a critical time in multilateral relations, when concerns over jobs and security are intense in all G8 countries and beyond, that he should slam the door in this way.”

Despite the refusal, the trade union statement has been distributed to officials in the US State Department and circulated to other G8 Delegations. It calls for concerted action on the economy, especially jobs, and renewed multilateral cooperation on peace and security issues.

Trade unions call on G8 governments to rebuild multilateral cooperation at the Sea Island G8 Summit

Concerned at the failure in multilateral cooperation in both the political and economic spheres, trade unions from the G8 countries and the Global Union organisations have issued a statement calling on the governments at the G8 Sea Island Summit on 9-10 to take the lead to break out of the current impasse. The statement drawn up on behalf of the Global Unions by TUAC, insists that governments must give the required political leadership to achieve four central priorities:-

-        The reestablishment of the leadership role of the United Nations in the maintenance of peace and the peaceful resolution of disputes;

-        The restoration of faster and more balanced economic growth that creates more and better jobs, “sustainable job-rich growth”;

-        The development and enforcement of fair rules on international trade and investment that are in conformity with human rights standards, including core labour rights and agreements on environmental sustainability;

-        Getting back on track to attain the Millennium Development Goals and reduce the income gaps between developing and transition countries and the industrialised world.

As immediate points for action on the economic and social agenda , the trade unions in G8 countries, together with the global trade union movement call on governments to:-

-        Reassert strongly the primacy of the respect for human rights in their action against terrorism;

-        Work with central banks and the social partners to stimulate demand growth particularly in Europe and Japan so as to rebalance growth worldwide and stimulate job creation;

-        Expand growth potential and the quality of employment through structural initiatives based on human capital investment, skills adaptation, income security in a changing job market;

-        Restore confidence in corporate governance by effective enforcement of rules on transparency, board accountability, shareholder responsibility and employee rights as well as implementation of the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises;

-        Follow up the proposals of the G8 Labour Ministers and the ILO World Commission Report to establish Policy Coherence Initiatives and a Globalisation Policy Forum, and give practical meaning to the concept of the socially responsible economy through the re-enforcement of rules on human rights, including core labour rights;  

-        Take urgent action to meet the Millennium Development Goals, by delivering the promises given to developing countries on debt relief, and development assistance, and by launching a new International Finance Facility and a world workplace initiative to monitor agreed sustainable development targets.

As President Bush – the host of the G8 Summit – declined to meet with a trade union delegation in advance of the Summit– the first G8 Head of Government to refuse such a meeting in 27 years – the statement was presented to officials at the US State department in Washington on 3 June by TUAC General Secretary John Evans and AFL-CIO International Affairs Director Barbara Shailor. Trade Unions from the G8 countries participating have also presented the statement simultaneously to their governments at national level. On 18 May President Chirac host of the 2003 summit met for consultations on the Sea Island Summit with unions, employers and civil society organisation. 

To read the full trade union statement click here

President Chirac at meeting with unions sets down new marker
on G8 policy proposals that differ from
US list

France's President Jacques Chirac made clear Tuesday in a meeting with 38 representatives of labour unions including TUAC, French employers, NGO's and local authorities that the forthcoming G8 summit in the US should have a different agenda to the one proposed by President George W. Bush.  

Listing France's set of priorities for the Sea Island summit, Chirac emphasised that France would combat terrorism "in complete respect for human rights and the rule of law", which was the only possible democratic stance.  He said France would only support the US initiative on the Greater Middle East from Mauritania to Afghanistan if (1) the Israeli-Palestine peace process was relaunched, (2) countries in the region were actively involved in the initiative and (3) if existing multilateral instruments were mobilised  for cooperation.

France's five priorities for Sea Island concerned growth, development, Africa, health and the environment.  On the question of achieving balanced and sustainable growth, even though the recovery was confirmed, there were still concerns over the imbalance in growth and the fact that US growth was being achieved at the risk of a very high deficit.  Rising oil prices were of concern, and while strong growth in China and India was positive, the poorest countries were being marginalised.

Chirac said the EU initiative on agriculture would have a high social cost and whether this was acceptable or not would depend on the reactions and actions taken by the US.  There had to be parallelism.  On social issues he defended the ILO World Commission's conclusions on the social dimension of globalisation, and in the area of corporate social responsibility he had proposed a new instrument to the G8. Support for NEPAD, for the fight against AIDS and for action to counter global warming were the other main points emphasised by the French President, and which would be taken up in next year summit in the UK.

Chirac said his main hopes for global progress lay with the 2005 G8 summit, to be hosted by Britain.  He said France was working with the British Presidency to ensure that Africa, Financing for Development, and Climate Change were included in the list of priorities.

Click here for TUAC report of meeting with President Chirac

TUAC Delegation Calls for Strengthening of Public Health Systems at OECD Health Ministers’ Meeting

(Paris 12 May 2004)

A TUAC delegation, chaired by Ken Georgetti, President of the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) and including TUAC Vice Presidents Tine Aurvig-Huggenberger (LO-Denmark) and Kiyoshi Sasamori (RENGO) had consultations with the OECD Health Ministers meeting chaired by the Mexican health minister, Julio Frenk on 12 May. The TUAC delegation emphasized that trade union members consider the attainment of the highest possible standard of health as a fundamental human right and that governments have a positive obligation to take steps to achieve these rights. They also referred to the social function of health systems which is of paramount importance; based on equitable access, risk pooling across society and health as a public good, it creates the conditions for attaining the highest standard of health. They pointed out that public systems of health care are both less costly and more equitable than private systems.

TUAC welcomed some of the proposals in the Ministers’ conclusions. In particular the suggestions to continue to improve health status and to provide the highest quality of health care to citizens in an effective way, to attach priority to illness prevention and promotion of healthy lifestyles, to reduce the lingering disparities in health and access to healthcare as well as to secure the financial sustainability of their health care systems are welcome. With regard to the issue of financial sustainability however, TUAC regretted the fact that Ministers neither addressed the issue of access to health care nor the question of vanishing employer responsibility regarding the provision of health insurance coverage as observed in a number of OECD countries.

TUAC also welcomed the suggestion of Ministers to make sufficient investment in human resources in the health care sector and in their professional development. To invest in human resources is of great importance; by itself, however, it is not sufficient. It needs to be linked to an improvement of working conditions. Moreover, the implementation of human resources policies in the health sector must become an ongoing process, conducted with the full participation of the health care workforce. TUAC has argued that workforce issues should be included in future health related analytical work of the OECD.

To read the TUAC evaluation of the Health Ministers’ meeting click here

International trade unions at OECD Forum

  TUAC was strongly represented at the OECD Forum 2004 held in Paris May 12-13, just prior to the OECD Ministerial Council and Health Ministers’ meetings held on May 13 – 14. Seven trade union speakers took part as panellists in almost half of the Forum sessions, held at the Kléber International Conference Centre in Paris.

At the panel on Corporate Governance John Sweeney, TUAC President and President of the, AFL CIO, stressed the role of capital owned by workers in promoting better corporate governance. He pointed out that “worker capital” amounting to US$7 trillion was now the largest source of investment funds in the United States and that workers now owned 26% of all traded companies there. Union sponsored funds are active in initiatives to improve corporate governance, proposing new listing standards for the New York Stock Exchange and NASDAQ and organising voting campaigns to replace bad directors. Unions had participated in revising the OECD Principles on Corporate Governance because they were the only international standard for good corporate governance. Unions want, he concluded to make globalisation work for workers as well as for capital.

At a session on the OECD Guidelines on Multinational Enterprises, John Monks, General Secretary of the European Trade Union Confederation noted a recent European poll that showed that 61% of those polled did not trust large companies. “The goal of companies must be to improve trust, especially in financial institutions and pension funds”, he said. In particular, “the paternalism of corporations must end”.

 At a panel on Financial Education Ken Georgetti, President of the Canadian Labour Congress warned that, it would not be reasonable to expect financial institutions themselves to deliver unbiased financial education. In all likelihood, the "education" delivered by financial institutions would be slanted by aggressive marketers. Would this be in the consumers' best financial interests? He questioned the media's ability to deliver objective financial lessons because of their reliance on advertisers. Non-profit organisations would be more reliable providers because they can be expected to have no  hidden agenda.

 In the session on Sustainable Development Trine Lise Sundes, vice president of LO – Norway, presented some sobering figures. She told the audience how each year there are 2 million work-related deaths worldwide, 270 million work-related accidents, and 160 million work-related diseases. These problems could only be dealt with properly at an international level. Ms Sundes also suggested the use of a new tool to advance sustainable development: "Social indicators should be given the same status as environmental and economic indicators, and be considered in the policy-making process."

Trade unions derive some encouragement
 from OECD Environment Ministers’ Meeting

Trade union participants reported some encouragement derived from discussions in a three-day OECD Environment Ministers meeting in Paris which ended Wednesday (21 April).   Trade unionists took part in stakeholder consultations with Ministers at which they detailed measures that OECD Governments should take in designing sustainable development plans.  These included employment transition measures, combined with workplace assessment processes that engage workers and employers in common action for change.

The OECD Ministerial meeting was held April 19 to 21 to evaluate progress on the Environmental Strategy that the Ministers adopted three years ago, and on the outcomes of the WSSD process of implementation.

A delegation of trade unionists from France, Denmark, Italy and Norway with the Trade Union Advisory Committee to the OECD (TUAC) took part in special consultations with Environment Ministers from the most industrialised countries in the world.  They contributed to the focused discussions on climate change, trade and environment, decoupling of growth from natural resource uses, as well as technology and innovation issues.  The implementation and assessment of sustainable development has become a priority for the OECD, particularly in the wake of the WSSD.

"We want the OECD to help foster cooperation between workers and employers to engage in common workplace assessments and reporting processes," said Bjorn Erikson of LO-Norway and Chair of the GLobal Unions Working Party on Occupational health, safety and Environment (OHSE).  At the meeting, the delegation emphasised the importance of addressing occupational health and safety issues as a cornerstone for promoting technology and innovation for sustainable development.   However, Erikson stated clearly, "Government and business implementation plans will continue to be limited without more dedicated commitment to understand and to address the employment implications for change."

He added:  "Establishing just transition and employment measures is the only sure way of providing the socio-economic security that will foster engagement and motivate workers to become involved at the workplace level and to consider how to change their personal consumption habits at home and as members of the community."

During the conference, TUAC General Secretary John Evans stressed that Governments could expect more of business than just what is included in legal requirements, but "corporate social responsibility is not an alternative to good government regulations."  He drew attention to the fact that there is a strong demand for the TUAC user guide to the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises which is now available in 18 languages. He urged that the OECD work together with the ILO and WTO on the interface between Ministerial Environmental Agreements (MEAs) and trade.  

In a closing session, Ministers concluded that OECD countries would fail to meet  previously agreed targets for 2010 unless they introduce more ambitious policies supported by stronger political will.  Taking stock of progress towards implementing OECD environment policy targets adopted three years ago, Ministers said urgent action was needed:

-   to reduce greenhouse gases

-   to address climate change

-   to limit biodiversity loss, and

-   to allow economic growth without seriously damaging the environment.

Ministers and stakeholders agreed on the need for stable, long-term environmental targets to provide a predictable framework for national and international action. Looking ahead, Ministers asked OECD to quantify the costs of not meeting environmental challenges, and called on the Paris-based organisation to produce a new Environmental Outlook.  The next OECD Ministerial session on the environment was set for 2008. 

The TUAC input at the Ministerial follows several months of trade union and stakeholder contributions to OECD work in preparing the meeting.    

Trade Unions bodies call for an expanded role for UNCTAD

As the United Nations conference on trade and development (UNCTAD XI) gets underway in the Brazilian city of Sao Paolo (13th- 18th June), the ICFTU together with TUAC (Trade Union Advisory Committee to the OECD) have said that moves to turn UNCTAD into a conveyor belt for untrammelled trade and investment liberalisation in developing countries must be resisted. A vital force in helping developing countries to participate effectively in trade negotiations, UNCTAD’s role should be expanded to develop a fuller evaluation of the impact of trade and investment policies on poorer countries’ citizens and their economies.

The social implications of economic policies, including their impact on women, provide one area on which UNCTAD should increasingly focus, according to the international trade union movement. All too often, the rewards for women of a globalised economy are fewer employment opportunities, discrimination in the labour market and poverty wages. Without changes to the present model of globalisation, cases of women being dismissed from their jobs in EPZs on account of pregnancy and other alarming violations of workers’ rights are likely to continue unabated.

The trade union movement has also renewed its calls for the establishment of an inter-agency Globalisation Policy Forum, reflecting the growing need for a fairer form of globalisation and for monitoring the social impact of development policies in the global economy. This echoes the recommendations made in the ILO World Commission’s report on the social dimensions of globalisation, released earlier this year. The international trade union movement is stressing the importance of UNCTAD playing a key role in any such inter-agency forum.

A further trade union proposal is that the OECD’s guidelines for multinational enterprises should form a standard part of all the UN agency’s recommendations for investment policies. The OECD guidelines include respect for core labour standards, as enshrined in International Labour Organisation (ILO) Conventions, and the inclusion of fundamental workers’ rights in UNCTAD’s agenda is essential in shaping an organisation that can tackle globalisation in the 21st century.

To read the full ICFTU-TUAC statement click        

TUAC statement to OECD and G8 urges action to pull global economy, international cooperation out of impasse

In a broad-ranging statement to the OECD ministerial meeting (13-14 May) and the G8 Sea Island summit in June, TUAC calls for action on a number of global economic fronts.  The trade union consultative committee identifies the need for action on the following six main points: 

--  a new start to multilateral co-operation under a United Nations operating with reinforced authority to help developing and emerging countries;

--  action to combat and dispel the negative aspects of globalisation;

--  government initiatives to restore  economic growth with the emphasis on job creation;

--  new rules on international trade and investment, in conformity with human rights standards, core labour rights and the environment

--  renewed commitment to the targets of the Millennium Development goals

--  implementation and reinforcement of high standards of corporate governance and accountability, with worker participation in decision-making.      

The TUAC statement says all these aims are attainable so long as governments put in place a reformed inter-governmental framework of coherent rules and linked institutions to achieve balanced and strong demand growth.  Trade unions "are rising to the challenge of globalisation in a wide range of areas including that of negotiating agreements with companies".    The statement says OECD unemployment levels are unacceptably high while, according to the ILO, global unemployment stands at more than 165 million people, the highest level ever recorded, and a further 550 million people worldwide are in working poverty earning the equivalent of US$ 1 or less per day.  The international trade union body calls for new growth and job-oriented policies especially in the OECD area, to contribute to world economic growth.

The statement is being presented to the OECD Ministerial Council at consultations in Paris on 13 May and to the host of the G8 at meetings in Washington on 2 and 3 June.

Click here for the full text of the TUAC statement 

TUAC delegation to OECD health Ministers Meeting to call for reinforcement of Public Health Systems

Trade union representatives will be taking part in a series of panels at the OECD Forum on the “Health of Nations” to be held in Paris on 12- 13 May (OECD Forum 2004).

A TUAC delegation will also be holding consultations on 12 May with the Bureau of the OECD Health Ministers meeting. The delegation will emphasize that trade union members and their families consider quality, equitable and affordable health care as a top priority. They support strategies that aim to give comprehensive, high quality and affordable health care to all citizens. Such strategies must take into account that a well-trained, highly motivated workforce is essential for a health system to function smoothly. However, when misguided reforms push health costs onto the budgets of working families they will oppose such moves.

 To read the TUAC statement on health care click here 

OECD Education Ministers' Meeting: TUAC Comments

(Dublin, 18-19 March, 2004)

TUAC Senior Policy Advisor Roland Schneider contributes an Article on education policy to the March 2004 issue of the OECD Observer, following the Education Ministers' meeting in Dublin on March 18-19.    Among his comments are the following:

--   Trade unions support the goal of boosting the educational achievements of students.  However, is compulsory nationwide testing for students and teachers the way to go?  This one-size-fits-all approach is a school cane in the hand of demagogues, and it is quite dangerous to apply it in a modern world of diverse knowledge needs.......: tests are open to abuse and misinterpretation. 

--   Many of the qualities required for successful and effective teaching -- passion, dedication and satisfaction in teaching -- are qualities that cannot be captured by a test

--   In too many instances, education policy makers are viewing standards as just another top-down reform, divorced from the needs and realities of the classroom (while) they are paying too little attention to developing the curriculum needed for achieving those standards.

--   Inside the classroom, the regime of the test is gaining dominance.  Learning is oriented to simply passing the exam, rather than toward knowledge and personal development, or preparation for adult life..... The danger is that the new obsession with performance testing, rather than building knowledge, will drag everyone downwards to a safe level of competence.   "Education for all" will just be another mantra.  Excellence will become a privilege, genius a luxury, but society as a whole will be impoverished as a result. 

To read the full TUAC Statement to the Education Ministers click here

European and North American Employment Performance Compared in Union Seminar On OECD Jobs Strategy

Some 80 trade unionists, government economists, leading academics  and senior members of the OECD’s economic secretariat took part in a one-day seminar organised by TUAC on Monday March 15 at OECD comparing European and North American employment performance in drawing lessons relevant to the current reassessment  of the OECD Jobs Strategy launched originally in 1994.

In a clear shift away from any temptation to look for one size-fits all solutions, there was sympathy among many participants for the trade union view that governments were still too easily inclined to see weakening the unions as part of their strategy to bring down jobless rates.  TUAC’s John Evans said many union affiliates were concerned that cross-country comparative data were being used to explain more than was possible by governments seeking pretexts to impose extraneous, non-valid solutions.

To view the Program click here      More documentation is available on request.

Global Unions in joint call to OECD Ministers
 to restore Public Faith in Corporate Governance

TUAC and four global and regional union organisations have issued a joint call to OECD ministers to strengthen substantially the OECD Principles of Corporate Governance that are due to be adopted at the May OECD Ministerial Conference, making the principles relevant to current real-life situations, and thus reacting to resuscitate fast-sinking public confidence in corporate business activities.

The signatories of the statement to OECD Economic and Finance Ministers meeting at OECD on May 13-14,  are John Evans (TUAC General Secretary), Philip Jennings (Chair, Global Union Federations-GUF, General Conference), John Monks (European Trade Union Confederation-ETUC, General Secretary), Guy Ryder,  (International Confederation of Free Trade Union-ICFTU General Secretary) and Willie Thys (World Confederation of Labour-WCL General Secretary). 

The unions stress that major corporate and financial scandals at Enron, Parmalat and other publicly-quoted corporations have “called into question the foundations of the corporate governance model that has prevailed over the past 25 years, particularly in the Anglo-American world”.  

They warn that in today’s world there is a strongly-felt need for workers to have a say in the corporate decision-making process, but the language offered in the OECD draft text is “totally inadequate”.  Governments must face up to their responsibilities and restore public faith in corporate governance. 

The joint statement calls for a more forward looking language than the draft revised principles that have been put up for public comment. It warns that if the text is not improved, “the credibility of the OECD as a serious voice in setting standards on corporate governance will be at stake”.

Click here for text of Global Unions Statement             

Strong participation of the labour movement
in the consultation process on the Review of
the OECD Corporate Governance Principles

Over a dozen of Global Union Federations and national centres affiliated to TUAC have sent comments on the proposed revised OECD Principles of corporate governance as part of a one-month consultation process which came to an end on 5 February 2004.

Following TUAC’s own comments (click here), national and international labour organisations (incl. ICFTU, IMF, IUF, UNI & PSI) express their deep concern about the orientation of the current draft. The proposed text fails to address key issues arising from the many corporate governance scandals over the past three years, including workers’ rights to participate in the corporate governance framework, increased accountability of the board, curbing executive pay, the promotion of long term and responsible shareholders.

The OECD Steering group (which is in charge of the review process) will meet on 19-20 February 2004 to discuss the outcome of the consultation process and the current draft. On that occasion, TUAC will host a Global Union meeting on corporate accountability and governance.

The revised Principles are expected to be adopted on the 13-14 May 2004 meeting of the OECD Ministerial council.

TUAC Statement to OECD Education Ministers Conference

(Dublin, 18-19 March, 2004)

A TUAC statement prepared for the OECD Education Ministers conference being held in Dublin on March 18-19 expresses support for the overriding goal of the meeting, which is to raise the quality of learning for all. The statement will be presented at consultations with the Ministers by a delegation led by Bob Harris Chair of the TUAC Working Group on Education Training and Employment Policy.

Noting the double TUAC interest in education, through national trade union centres and education unions, the TUAC statement emphasizes that the central challenge confronting education policy-makers is how to achieve quality in education and equity in access to it.  Trade unionists as parents and citizens want the best education available for their children, and as teachers and other education personnel they want to work in education systems that perform well and equitably. 

The statement calls on education ministers to seek partnership with trade union centres and education unions, urging the development of a dialogue in discussions that traditionally have sometimes been adversarial.

The TUAC statement also looks at the relationship between trade unions and employers, stressing the large amount of common ground on policy issues. 

In summary, TUAC identifies the following points on which a constructive, result-oriented dialogue is desirable:

         °  raising performance levels for all

         °  tackling the widespread problem of teacher supply, and improved teacher effectiveness

         °  education and its relationship to social cohesion

         °  education for citizenship in democratic societies.

A factor of key importance in relation to the four points above is the question of investment which, TUAC emphasizes, must be faced by governments.  The statement says that trying to drive change in education through so-called performance testing without allocating adequate resources to achieve quality and equity is an impossibility. 

A dialogue involving government, trade unions and business must be pursued at the national level in order to ensure the harmonious development of education, an area to which on average OECD governments devote nearly 6 per cent of GDP. 

Clik here to read TUAC Education Statement   

 TUAC input to OECD Science, Technology
 and Innovation Ministerial Meeting

(Paris 29-30 January 2004)

At their meeting on “Science, Technology and Innovation for the 21st Century”, OECD Ministers responsible for Science and Technological Policy emphasised the issue of ensuring sustained development of human resources in science and technology.  This was one of three priority areas identified in the final communiqué released on January 30 at the end of the two-day meeting in Paris.

The two other issues identified as high on the policy agenda were: promotion of stronger relationships between science and innovation systems, including the changing role of intellectual property rights in stimulating knowledge creation and diffusion; and increased international cooperation in science and technology notably in relation to globalisation and in order to implement large-scale research projects.

In the consultation meeting with the conference chairman, Australian Science Minister Peter McGauran, before the full session opened, the TUAC delegation led by Bob Harris (Australian Council of Trade Unions and Education International) stressed the importance of the following issues: human resources, priorities for basic research, investment in Science and Technology, and public trust in science. 

A TUAC policy document prepared for the meeting made a series of points that aroused interest among participants at the ministerial gathering held at OECD headquarters.  It emphasised that while technology-driven research, or “technological determinism”, is an activity promoting innovation it has originated with people and is conceived for their benefit.  The document goes on to make the following points:

-   Innovation policy objectives must go beyond increasing economic growth and international competitiveness to cover all the aspects of sustainable development, including social cohesion and equity, as well as resolving problems related to pollution, energy and poverty.

-   Employees and their trade unions have a strong interest in innovation policy, and their involvement is crucial in any innovation strategy.

-   Governments must seek to spur organisational innovation, to boost productivity and improve the quality of working life.

-   Governments must step up public investment in R and D, so that it reaches at least 3% of GDP by 2010, and they must ensure that the partners involved take account also of the social environment in which innovation takes place. 

-   Policies promoting R&D, technology and innovation must make a clear linkage between growth, development, sustainability, standards of living and trade in a context where managing the new informational inputs and change can often be a greater challenge than the actual changes themselves.

To read the TUAC Statement  click here 

 Global Unions, including TUAC Participants,
 raise key issues at Davos Policy Debate

 Global union representatives, including participation from TUAC, at the annual Davos World Economic Forum emphasised that a number of issues still remained on the policy agenda, and should not be put on one side in the belief that more recent concerns were of greater importance.

TUAC expressed the view that some people were assuming too conveniently that action had been taken on key issues when in fact it had not.  The questions still only very partially tackled  include corporate governance, which has not yet attained the indispensable degree of acceptance unions expect to be agreed by employers and unions; progress towards agreement on  financial market regulation to prevent destabilising financial swings is moving at a snail’s pace;  serious improvement in growth and employment is still lacking while there is growing complacency among key economic players as regards the persistence of a jobless recovery that fails to meet the expectations of all parties;  and, finally, the outsourcing problem – particularly towards China – is posed with increasing acuity, requiring the reinforcement of care labour standards world wide and negotiation of global-level agreements between unions and corporations to regulate outsourcing.

TUAC at France’s Force Ouvrière Conference,
marked by retirement of Marc Blondel

TUAC attended the 20th conference of the French Force Ouvrière union federation held north of Paris in the week starting February 2.   The conference was marked by the retirement of General Secretary Marc Blondel, after 15 years in the job.  A well-known public figure, Blondel is generally perceived in France as a trade union leader who has made a big impact at the head of one of the country’s major labour federations.  He is to continue as a member of the Governing Body of the ILO.

In a half day debate on 5 February, given over entirely to international affairs, TUAC General Secretary John Evans paid tribute to Blondel’s commitment to international affairs and focused on strategies for Global Unions to establish a balance of power with multinational corporations.

To read the speech click  here:  

TUAC Urges Global Unions to comment on
Revised draft on OECD Corporate Governance Principles

The OECD Steering Group on Corporate Governance is revising its Principles of Corporate Governance, which it expects to present for adoption to the 13-14 May 2004 meeting of the OECD Council at Ministerial level. The TUAC has been engaged in the Review process on an ad-hoc basis.

The OECD has now posted the current draft of the Principles on its web site for public comment (, with a deadline of 5 February for submissions. They along with the views of governments themselves will be considered by the Steering Group when it next meets in Paris on 19-20 February.

In response to the request for public comment the TUAC Secretariat has forwarded comments to the OECD. We are urging TUAC affiliates and Global Unions organisations to submit their own comments (send by email to: as soon as possible.

To read TUAC comments click here

Trade Unions to raise concerns over research funding
and job perspectives of researchers
OECD Science and Technology M

Employees of universities and research institutions in all parts of the world are exposed to a growing pressure to change. The way in which they are developing new knowledge as well as strategies to transform it into innovative processes, services and products, are at the center stage of public debates on science and technology policy. This has not only given rise to policy initiatives and reforms in a number of OECD countries. Issues related to initiatives and approaches of science and technology policy are also high on the agenda of a forthcoming OECD Ministerial Meeting on Science and Technology to be held in Paris on 29 – 30 January 2004.

According to the preparations of the meeting, Ministers are expected to discuss three key policy issues at their meeting:

Managing the interface between innovation and science systems. Discussions will focus on reforms to improve the governance of public research, the role of intellectual property in creating incentives to innovation while fostering the diffusion of knowledge and lessons from policy initiatives to increase business R&D, including through the development of public-private partnerships.

Improving the development and mobility of human resources in Science and Technology (S&T). Discussions on this topic will focus on the challenges that OECD countries face in maintaining an adequate S&T workforce to meet future needs as well as an exchange of views on policy responses.

International co-operation in science and technology. Under this topic Ministers are expected to discuss access to research data from public funding and international S&T co-operation for sustainable development. Moreover, Ministers will also consider the need for international co-operation in high-energy physics and neuroinformatics as well as the endorsement of efforts to establish a global biological resources centres network by 2006.

Prior to the meeting, TUAC will have consultations with the chair and co-chairs of the meeting, Dr. Peter McGauran, Minister of Science of Australia. At this occasion TUAC delegates will emphasize the importance that trade unions attach to innovation policy. Involving workers and their unions is crucial in any innovation strategy. Numerous studies have noted that the relationship between skill development, working conditions, workplace organization, and investment in research, development and technology is vital to innovation and sustainable development. They will urge OECD Science and Technology Ministers to give a clear commitment of their determination to work with other government Ministers, business and trade unions to:

-       reverse the relative decline in R&D expenditure in a great number of OECD countries and to  i increase R&D expenditure as well as related employment ;

-        re-orientate R&D to more efficiently contribute to the goal of sustainable development;

-        avoid the concentration of knowledge and intellectual property in a few hands;

-        give confidence and security to research workers ;

-       rebuild public confidence in Science and Technology through transparent and open systems of technology assessment;

-        support knowledge based clusters of economic activity in order to re-orientate industrial location strategies;

-        integrate Science and Technology policies with employment strategies based on raising skills and productivity;

-        promote the development of participatory strategies involving employees and their unions in the introduction of new technology and organisational change at the workplace;

Policies aiming to promote R&D, technology and innovation must link growth, development, sustainability, standards of living and appropriate global governance to one another. The real innovation bottleneck is not the supply of new knowledge but external factors surrounding the process of innovation and technology transfer. Managing information overload, social acceptance of new technologies, environmental concerns, and workplace change often pose a far greater challenge to businesses than the underlying innovations or technologies themselves.

Innovation, technology, design and creativity come from people. Thus, the social shaping of innovation and technology must be seen as playing a positive role in integrating economic and social concerns; in offering a greater understanding of the relationship between knowledge, technological innovation and economic and social well-being; and in broadening the policy agenda, for example in the promotion and management of technological change. Workers must be given a voice in the process of innovation and managing change.

To read the full TUAC statement click here

The programme of the Ministerial meeting as well as background documents and statement are accessible on the web:

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.