TUAC - Trade Union Advisory Committee






Unions Welcome OECD Guidelines' decision 
on Marks and Spencer Closure in France

In its first public report since being constituted earlier this year, the French National Contact Point charged with dealing with the cases under the OECD Multinational Enterprises Guidelines has criticised the Marks and Spencer Group for the way it sought to close down its stores in France. 

After French trade unions took their case about the way the company behaved to the tripartite contact group (made up of representatives from the administration, enterprises and unions), the contact point  reviewed the company's action.  It has now announced that Marks and Spencer failed to respect the guidelines by not informing and consulting employees about its plans to close down its operations in France. 

A French trade union, CFDT press release welcomed the Contact Point's decision which had told the M & S management that social obligations to consult staff on company plans were every bit as important as keeping financial markets informed. TUAC General Secretary John Evans commented:  "This is an important vindication of employees' rights to be informed and consulted on corporate issues of direct concern to them. The buyers of the Marks and Spencer stores must now respect those employees' rights." 

TUAC Plenary Session held in Paris
  (15-16 November)

Trade union leaders from TUAC's affiliates, along with representatives of Global union organisations, met in Paris on 15-16 November.  The plenary session took stock of a number of important issues for trade unions, including the current economic situation, and the outcome of the fourth Ministerial Conference of the WTO held from 9 to 13 November in Doha.   Delegates also discussed preparations for the TUAC consultations on 16 November with the OECD Liaison Committee, a group that includes the OECD Ambassadors, and top economic policy staff of the organisation.  Other items dealt with included: follow-up work around the G8 Genoa Summit and preparations for the G8 meetings in 2002;  ongoing work related to the implementation of the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises;  TUAC's involvement in the trade union movement's Millennium Review;  developments linked to trade union preparatory work for the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development;  and a progress report on UNICORN, a Global Unions Anti-Corruption Network. 

After hearing reports of the work carried out over the past year by the TUAC Secretariat, the plenary session emphasised the importance of TUAC's efforts in furthering international trade union co-operation, and re-elected General-Secretary John Evans for a further four-year term.  Delegates also heard a valedictory  intervention  by Pietro Merli Brandini, former National Secretary of the Italian Trade Union Confederation CISL and a Member of the TUAC Administrative Committee.  Brandini, who first attended a TUAC meeting in 1950, gave a personal view of half a century of  international trade union co-operation, drawing lessons relevant to current and future TUAC activities.  Emphasising the need for governance of globalisation, he called also for trade union development to be globalised.   Pietro Merli Brandini's closing words were simply: "We have done a good job, together.  But there is still a lot to be done, maybe more than we have already done.  Go ahead, my good friends, and do it."

To read the text of Pietro Merli Brandini's statement, click here 

 TUAC urges Liaison Committee to press
OECD Member Governments to act
in combating worsening world economy
    (Paris, 16 November, 2001)

TUAC representatives used the meeting with the OECD Liaison Committee on 16 November to press Member governments to meet their responsibility for managing the world economy, and to act to reverse the economic and social damage caused by the worsening global economic crisis.  A TUAC position paper called on OECD governments also to "use the current situation to reflect on globalisation and confront issues of global governance".

TUAC called for effective and coherent policy actions to redress the situation.   Noting that the world's largest economies were already experiencing slowing growth, or even recession, prior to 11 September,  TUAC called for further expansionary monetary policy and fiscal measures, co-ordinated and concerted by OECD governments to "ensure that the world does not tip further into recession".   It was also urgent to re-examine globalisation and develop policies to "tackle fundamental issues of rights, poverty and injustice".

The union leaders pressed especially for a new development agenda to eradicate world poverty, using a policy approach based on partnerships between industrialised and developing countries. 

TUAC stressed that the development strategy needed to meet objectives of poverty reduction, while ensuring that global trade and investment provisions gave market access, boosted development  prospects, and guaranteed respect for core labour standards.  Also, OECD governments had to develop more effective international economic governance to manage and humanise the globalisation process.  A rules-based multilateral system built on universally-accepted  social and environmental norms and standards needed to be reinforced;  the new OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises should be a priority for governments, the TUAC argued, and were vital in restoring public faith in the multilateral system.  The unions also pressed  for changes in the financial market architecture to ensure stable and sustained growth in the world economy.

Other recent OECD policy initiatives which will help to meet public concerns for reshaping the international corporate policy agenda include the set of OECD Principles of Corporate Governance (already welcomed by TUAC);  recent OECD work on bribery and corruption, which concerns both corporate accountability and the rule of law as well as the intergovernmental framework of governance.  Follow-up work in both these areas can only be relevant if it meets the needs and aspirations of working families.

Click here for full text of the TUAC discussion paper 

New WTO Talks must not worsen 
Imbalances of Globalisation

(Doha, November 14, 2001): The launch of new WTO negotiations in Doha may well be a short-lived accomplishment, warned Global Unions, which groups 13 international trade union organisations, including the ICFTU and TUAC.

“This WTO Conference failed to take the opportunity to tackle the inequities of globalisation by doing something effective for social justice, democracy and the protection of basic workers’ rights,” commented ICFTU General Secretary Bill Jordan.  “Remember, the last trade round took eight years to complete.  It will be a long haul before these negotiations come anywhere near their end, and a global recession would put increasing strain on the global trading system.  There is a real danger of a further surge in low-cost, exploitative production in export processing zones, where the overwhelming majority of workers are women.”

The WTO Ministerial Declaration reiterates the position that the WTO first adopted at Singapore five years ago concerning respect for core labour standards, and draws attention to the work begun in the ILO in that regard.  On 12 November, the ILO in effect endorsed the setting up of a World Commission on the social dimensions of globalisation.

“After Singapore, everyone expected the WTO to start co-operation with the ILO, yet that commitment has been a non-starter”, commented Bill Jordan.  “After the Doha Conference, the minimum we expect to see is some effective initiative to bring about genuine co-operation between these two bodies.  Less than that will turn workers and their organisations against the world trading system.”

Apart from the TRIPS agreement on access to medicines, little is to be seen of the social agenda in the final Declaration.

In Doha, TUAC and the  ICFTU took part in a thirty-strong union delegation from developing and industrialised countries undertook intensive efforts to promote the trade union social and developmental agenda at the WTO.  Those efforts bore fruit in a groundswell of support for union proposals, throughout the Caribbean and in a large number of other developing regions.  Unfortunately, the hard-line voices of a handful of countries including Pakistan, Egypt, Malaysia and Zimbabwe carried the day. 

“The WTO and its members have to tackle a basic problem: the support for social progress of a silent majority of WTO members has less weight than the loud voices of a handful of hard-liners, who can stop decision-making being representative”, concluded Bill Jordan.  “The union movement will be maintaining its campaign until the day that the WTO incorporates adequate development, social, labour, gender and environmental concerns into its work and mechanisms.”

Progress report on UNICORN, 
a Global Unions anti-corruption Network

The joint TUAC-ICFTU-PSI  trade union Anti-Corruption Network known as UNICORN is now operational. A progress report covering UNICORN's activities for the period June to October 2001 is now available. 

UNICORN is financed by a grant from the Wallace Global Fund, and managed by the Public Services International Research Unit (PSIRU) of the University of Greenwich, in the UK, and is overseen by a steering committee comprising representatives of TUAC,  ICFTU and PSI.  Its mission is to mobilise trade unionists across the world to share information and coordinate action in order to combat international corruption.  It seeks to strengthen global attempts to penalise and deter bribery.  In addition to creating a trade union-based  information system and network, UNICORN  is also actively building links  and collaborating with other national and international NGOs which share common goals. 

The progress report can be obtained from the TUAC Office.


Global Unions call for world economic stimulus
in wake of terrorist attacks and their aftermath

After the G7 Finance Ministers meeting in Washington on 6-7 October failed to reach agreement on  a concerted plan of action, Global Unions called today for joint, co-ordinated and far-reaching economic measures to ensure that the world does not tip yet further into a recession. 

"Following the terrible events of 11 September, it is vital that the worsening world economic recession, which is one of the results, does not cause yet more human tragedy,” said Bill Jordan, General Secretary of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) today from Brussels. 

The world’s biggest economies were experiencing slowing growth even prior to 11 September, and the shock of these events threatens to make the world’s economic health even more precarious. Predictions of global economic growth have been revised downwards, and there have already been several high profile bankruptcies and hundreds of thousands of layoffs. The World Bank announced last week that it expected the number of those living in extreme poverty to increase by an additional 10 million people, and tens of thousands more children to die worldwide.

“Obviously interest rates should be cut to offset the loss in business confidence, but there are deeper issues too, that have to be addressed”, said John Evans, General Secretary of the Trade Union Advisory Committee to the OECD (TUAC/OECD). "The US, Europe and Japan face synchronised recession, showing the need for concerted monetary and fiscal action. We need a more balanced global economy, and we need more of the world to share in the prosperity and in the responsibility of driving economic growth.”

Airline companies, especially in the US, have been asking taxpayers for massive bailouts, and have received 16 billion dollars at the same time as they have laid off over a hundred thousand employees. Workers, as yet, have received nothing but redundancy notices. This must not be the pattern of government responses in the coming weeks and months. Emergency rescue funds to companies must be linked to protection of jobs and full negotiations about restructuring and dismissals.

While US President George W. Bush announced an economic boost last week, the resources promised fall far short of the scale of the task.  John Sweeney, President of the AFL-CIO, said on 4 October that "the President's plan appears certain to need substantially more resources than he proposes. Early estimates show that his unemployment proposal would affect less than half of the 360,000 workers already subject to lay off notices, and for too short a time."

John Evans added, "The immediate reactions of the world’s central banks to the attacks showed that concerted action by public authorities can indeed shore up confidence and make the difference between panic and stability. Direct action is essential.  Every country's room for manoeuvre is different, but acting together, rather than apart, will increase what the world is capable of achieving."

 Much of the emphasis in a world-wide recovery package must be on attacking poverty. Debt relief, market access, democracy and human rights are essential to the fight against poverty.  Aid levels must be raised to the agreed UN target of 0.7% of GNP.  The recovery effort must provide large-scale increases in funds for vocational training, incomes for the unemployed, infrastructure investments  - i.e., investments in transportation, communications, water systems, public health care, school construction and modernisation, and environmental clean-up – all of which will increase job opportunities today and productive capacity tomorrow.

Bill Jordan concluded, “We need global policies and institutions that promote real growth to assist ordinary workers and that deal with poverty. The Global Unions Day of Action on 9 November, 'Making Globalisation work for People', is going to hammer this point home, because this crisis should have made that obvious to us all.”

The TUAC Working Group on Economic Policy will meet on 18 October to discuss further economic measures that are needed.

Trade unions to take labour & social issues 
to climate change talks at OECD & COP7

On October 12 , fifteen TUAC trade union experts will meet an equal number of representatives from business, governments and research institutions at the OECD in Paris to flesh out the elements of an eventual research programme, aimed at better understanding the employment implications of climate change.

The outcome of the Paris meeting will feed into the preparations for a trade union workshop, scheduled for November 6 at the 7th Conference of the Parties (COP7) meeting of the UNFCCC (UN Framework Convention on Climate Change), to be held in Marrakech, Morocco. The COP7 Workshop will aim to convince governments to open discussions on the social implications of climate change and to consider 'just transition' programmes, as a means of promoting more consensus over climate change mitigation measures. 

At the OECD in Paris, case studies selected by TUAC and BIAC will be examined as a basis of determining the future research priorities for employment and climate change, including the methodologies to be applied and the questions to be answered. The meeting will also involve the OECD, ILO, and European Community in discussions about possible cooperation to undertake such research. TUAC Secretary General John Evans says the meeting is an important step the trade union efforts to promote employment transition programmes for workers affected by climate change itself or programmes to mitigate its effects. 

Attached to this message are: a) the draft agenda for the 12 October meeting, and b) a discussion paper prepared for the OECD by Professor John Chesshire from Sussex University, UK, and c) a draft notice for the trade union COP7 workshop to be held November 6. 

The UK and South Africa Governments are scheduled to lead the discussions at the COP7 trade union workshop and business, NGO and other government representatives will be invited to participate. TUAC and ICFTU are currently accepting trade union nominations to participate in COP7, which will take place from October 29to November 9. Nominations will close on 1 October, 2001 so perspective participants are urged to make contact with TUAC very soon for information about their registration, accommodation, and Visas. 

The ICFTU/TUAC submission to COP7 is currently in preparation and will be discussed at the OHSE Working Party meeting, scheduled for October 3-4 in Paris.  Input by trade unions into the eventual COP7 submission can be provided by sending feedback on the trade union submission to the recent CO6bis meeting, held last July in Germany.  Copies of this submission can be provided upon request in either French, English, or Spanish. 

Trade union outcomes of the OECD and COP7 meetings will feed into the preparatory meetings at the UN next February for the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD), to be held in South Africa in 2002. 

TUAC signs agreement with UNEP 
over its input to WSSD industry reports

Under a recently signed agreement with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), TUAC will coordinate the Trade Union input with ITS (International Trade Secretariats) into 23 United Nations industry sector reports, destined for the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD), scheduled for 2002 in South Africa. 

ICEM, IFBWW, IMF, ITF, ITGLWF, IUF, PSI, and trade union representatives from TUAC and ICFTU secretariat, as well as from certain national affiliates, have agreed to participate in a first round of meetings with UNEP next 3 October in Paris, the day prior to the opening of the ICFTU/TUAC/ITS OHSE Working Party meeting in Brussels, scheduled for 4-5 October, 2001.

In a joint effort with the ICEM, ICFTU, CLC (Canada), and the Canadian Energy and Paper Workers ( CEP-Canada) Mr. Brian Kohler of CEP has been seconded for the next three months to coordinate the trade union response to the reports, which are currently being prepared by the Industry and Technology Division of UNEP in Paris. The effort aims to ensure that industry reviews are developed, so as to ensure the integration of the three pillars of sustainable development, including the social dimension and to produce a report describing how the labour movement interprets the environment principles of the Global Compact. 

The ICFTU and CLC have arranged for the CEP secondment of Kohler, who will work out of the ICEM office in Brussels. TUAC will coordinate efforts of the Working Party in ensuring the coordination of outcomes with OECD, UNEP and other intergovernmental bodies. 

TUAC General Secretary, John Evans said that this first agreement with UNEP signals its openness in working with trade unions in the lead up to the WSSD. He said that the outcomes of this three month's effort will feed into the trade union preparations for the WSSD world preparatory meeting scheduled for next February at the UN in New York. 

The industry sectors that will be reviewed are: accounting, advertising, agrifood, cement, chemicals, construction, detergents, finance, information & communication, management of waste & water, mining & metals, oil & gas, postal services, power generation, pulp and paper, refrigeration, tanning, textile, tourism, and transport. 

International Labour Movement expresses its horror at the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington

TUAC joins  the rest of the international labour movement in expressing  horror and outrage at the callous killing of so many innocent women, men and children in the terrorist attacks of 11th September. All of us in the international labour movement stand in solidarity with our American colleagues at this time resolute in defence of democratic and open societies, based on the universal values of freedom and human dignity.  AFL-CIO President John Sweeney in his public statement on 12th September said “We mourn those who perished as they performed their work, whether in rescue efforts, in offices or on airplanes. --- Already union members have gone into action to assist the rescue efforts, and the AFL-CIO and our unions will do everything we can to assist the continued rescue operations and the medical care of those injured. --- Even as we denounce this act, we must remember that this was an act of terrorists, not an Arab attack, and reject anti-Arab retaliation or discrimination. Now is the time to renew the values that bind us together as a nation.”  (the full statement can be read at www.aflcio.org).

TUAC delegation to OECD 
high-level agriculture meeting calls for
the workers voice to be heard in the reform debate

The TUAC delegation to the OECD High-level Agriculture meeting, held in Paris on 3 and 4 September, included Ron Oswald, general secretary of the International Union of Food, Agricultural, Tobacco, Hotel, Restauraant, Catering and Allied Workers' Associations (IUF).  Representing farm and food industry workers in 120 countries,  the majority from the poorer non-OECD nations in the less developed regions of the world, Mr. Oswald urged the OECD gathering to put highest priority on the inclusion of the voice from food workers in the debate over agricultural policy reform. 

The text of his introductory remarks to the conference is avalaible here 

New International Trade Union Anti-corruption
Network created

UNICORN, the TUAC-ICFTU-PSI International trade union Anticorruption Network, has now been launched, with financial support from the Wallace Global Fund, a US based charitable foundation. UNICORN's overall goal is to establish a trade union-based information system and network  to help support and strengthen local, national and international action against corruption.

UNICORN will help TUAC affiliates monitor the implementation of the OECD Anti Bribery Convention which came place into force in 1999. This convention obliges signatory governments to criminalise  the payment of bribes to foreign public officials by multinational enterprises operating from their territories. Governments have now agreed a monitoring process including consultations with TUAC/BIAC and Transparency International, and an OECD Mission will conduct on-site visits to examine the performance of national systems enacted to enforce the laws and rules to implement the Convention. Up to seven missions a year are expected to be held. The first was held in Helsinki, Finland, this month (Sept 2001) with TUAC affiliates, BIAC and Transparency International taking part in the consultations.

These developments are part of the wider trade union campaign against corporate globalisation. TUAC is currently compiling a network of contacts in affiliates to work with UNICORN staff, and help them prepare for consultation with the OECD missions. Among the key areas whose policies and practises UNICORN is researching are :

- Whistle-blowing;
- Export Credit Guarantee Agencies ;
- Multilateral Development Bank-funded projects ;
- Multinational companies ;
- Funding of political parties.

Affiliates still to nominate a contact person are urged to do so and to forward details to Roy Jones at the TUAC Secretariat.

JULY 2001

Global Unions at Genoa G8 Summit

(July 2001)

The run-up to the Genoa G8 Summit was dominated by fears of violent protest that now typically accompany inter-governmental meetings, leading to this year’s Summit being held behind a ring of steel and a mass security presence. Tragically, that became a reality and it will be forever marked by the scenes of violent destruction and the death of a protestor shot by police. 

Ahead of the Summit, trade union leaders from G8 countries, the South and Russia met on 19 July with Silvio Berlusconi the host of the Summit, who was accompanied by his Labour and Industry Ministers. The Italian trade unions organised a successful mass public meeting on 18 July, to which Nelson Mandela sent a powerful message of support for trade unions via a video link. The Genoa Social Forum, which was co-ordinating the peaceful protest movement held a mass teach-in, to which a member of the TUAC Secretariat spoke at a workshop on export credits and sustainable development.

John Sweeney, President of the AFL-CIO and TUAC, introduced the Global Unions Statement (prepared by TUAC in association with the ICFTU, ETUC and WLC) to Silvio Berlusconi. In his opening remarks, he warned of the "growing crisis of democracy" and of a "global system that remains opaque, remote and unaccountable….. a system increasingly viewed as an illegitimate imposition by powerful private interests that undermine the common good". Calling for reforms he said: "People across the world are calling for a new internationalism, one that protects the common good, not the private interests. One that protects global concerns and holds corporations accountable not one that forces up global corporations and lags waste to the environment". 

In his responses, Silvio Berlusconi said among other things that he would request that trade unions have a more institutionalised input to the 2002 G8 Summit.

Following the meeting, the TUAC Secretariat prepared and evaluation of the outcome of the Summit. 

Click here for the full text of the trade union statement to the G8 Summit 

Click here for the full text of John Sweeney's opening Statement 

Click here for the TUAC Evaluation of the Summit 

Burmese forced labour denounced
 by fugitive workers at OECD meeting

Two Burmese workers testified at an OECD meeting in June to denounce slave labour working conditions and brutality by enterprises which were receiving the support of Burma's military regime.

Invited by the TUAC to the meeting  called to discuss implementation of the OECD's Guidelines on Multinational Enterprises, the two workers told of forced labour conditions, gruelling physical stress and no proper food or medical treatment while they worked to build a helicopter strip near a gas pipeline under construction in Southern Thailand. The project involved several multinational corporations.

Former fisherman Saw Pe, now living in exile in Thailand, testified how he humped 50 kilo bags of cement for 13 hours a day during the building of the landing strip.  His compatriot Than Lwin, of the exiled Federation of Burmese Trade Unions, said slave labour practices in Burma had long existed for government infrastructure projects, but investment by foreign multinational companies had worsened the overall situation. 

In 1998, an ILO inquiry found that slave labour practices were "systematic and generalised" in Burma, and the organisation is due to send another mission to the Asian country in September this year.  The two witnesses who spoke to the OECD committee said in press interviews in Paris that only economic sanctions against Burma would have any effect in combating the policies of the Burmese junta which had "no intention of co-operating seriously with the ILO."

Slovak Unions join TUAC

TUAC General-Secretary John Evans paid a visit to Slovakia on the occasion of the admission of the Slovak Confederation of Trade Unions (KOZ) into TUAC on July 1.   In addition to holding a series of discussions on current issues with Slovak ministers and parliamentarians in charge of economic and social affairs, the TUAC representative also took part in a special seminar on Slovak, TUAC and OECD relations, held in Bratislava on July 3 and 4. 

The purpose of the seminar, held at KOZ headquarters, was to highlight the aims and role of the OECD, the significance of Slovak membership of the organisation, as well as an outline of TUAC activities, and TUAC co-operation with other international trade union organisations such as the ICFTU and ETUC as well as the ILO, notably regarding issues of unemployment and social reform.   In his presentation, Evans outlined the key developments marking the history of OECD, tracing the evolution of the Paris-based organisation to its present membership of 30 industrialised economies, of which Slovakia is the most recent member. 

Regarding the role of TUAC in relation to OECD, Evans noted the different major policy phases that had marked the five decades since TUAC was first linked to OECD.   In line with the changing focus of OECD itself, key issues for TUAC now were questions related to "shaping" globalisation and international economic governance. 

John Evans recalled the view of former TUAC President Bob White that OECD work in the 1980's and 1990's had been "dominated by the classical 'free market' philosophy", and White's belief that TUAC's role would "become more central .... now that the radical liberalisation agenda has failed to build a stable and growing international economy".  Evans concluded by looking forward "to TUAC developing a strong and close relationship with our new affiliate KOZ-SR". 

As a follow-up, it was agreed to cooperate in particular on :

-  Employment and economic issues, especially work on the OECD growth project, social capital and public sector questions;

-  Corporate regulation and multinationals, in particular the follow-up and implementation of revised OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, corporate governance and anti-corruption work;

-  Reform of pensions and social security.

To read the full text, click here 

To read the full text of the TUAC statement, click here 

OECD reviews policy challenges for 
 early childhood education and care

A new OECD publication on Early Childhood Education and Care  was formally presented at an international conference co-organised on June 14 by the OECD, the Swedish Ministry of Education and Science, and the Swedish National Agency for Education.  Opened by Minister Ingegerd Waernersson, the conference was attended by policy officials, researchers and practitioners from 50 countries.  Delegates discussed its findings, shared innovative national and local approaches, and explored possible strategies to address major challenges in the field. 

The OECD report "Starting Strong: Early Childhood Education and Care" provides a comparative analysis of major policy developments and issues in 12 OECD countries -- Australia, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States.    It highlights innovative approaches and proposes policy options that can be adapted to different national contexts.

click here for full text of review 

Unions welcome continued OECD work
to outlaw tax havens

   (Paris, 29 June, 2001)

The Trade Union Advisory Committee to the OECD (TUAC) has welcomed the OECD agreement to push ahead with its work to crack down on the harmful activities of tax havens but has called for it to go further. Speaking following the decision on June 28 of the OECD to drive forward with the project, TUAC General Secretary John Evans said, “It is important that the key elements of this work are going ahead. In a more globalised economy it is essential that governments show that they have effective ways to stop international tax evasion. This is an important part of building rules in the global economy to achieve social justice”.
TUAC will hold a Conference with the OECD in October on the specifics of the work programme. The unions feel that it essential not to allow the longer time periods for compliance agreed by the OECD to lead to "foot dragging". They have also insisted that preferential tax treatment for overseas multinationals should be removed.

Unions - Follow up on the OECD
Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises

Meeting on Multinationals 31 May – 1 June
Two meetings on multinational enterprises  were held, to  feed into the ICFTU’s Millennium Review. The first meeting involved the TUAC Working Group on Global Trade and Investment, which is focusing on the OECD Guidelines. The other meeting was a joint ICFTU/ITS/TUAC meeting to discuss different approaches to multinational enterprises.

New cases being prepared 
Affiliates are preparing cases for National Contact Points on the OECD Guidelines. One of the cases concerns Marks and Spencer’s closure of 38 stores in Europe, which was announced without any prior consultations with the workers. Other cases are about multinational enterprises’ activities in Burma. Several companies are suspected of being implicated in forced labour schemes.

Developments in the National Contact Points
The enclosed table summarises recent developments in the National Contact Points. You can read about the composition of the various NCP’s and measures to promote and implement the OECD Guidelines.

TUAC Survey of National Contact Points
TUAC is conducting a survey of the functioning of the NCP’s for all its affiliates and national centres in Argentina, Brazil and Chile. The survey served as a trade union input to the first OECD Annual Meeting of NCP’s on 18 June 2001 where TUAC will be having consultations.

User’s Guide
TUAC has started work on a User’s Guide to the OECD Guidelines. The purpose of the Guide is to help trade unions in using the OECD Guidelines and in raising cases when companies violate the Guidelines. The Guide will be distributed to affiliates and trade unions outside the OECD area.

JUNE 2001

Job tenure situation less simple than often painted, according  to TUAC comment on recent research

There is a commonly-held view, especially on the part of employers, that the employment relationship in all of the industrialized countries has been weakened, thus threatening permanent, long-term jobs, and leading to a rise in non-standard or atypical work arrangements -- such as part-time work, temporary jobs or time-limited contracts, and independent contractor and freelance jobs.

Recent research by a number of authors (*) has shown that this view is an over-simplification and an exaggeration.  In fact, with respect to the long-term employment  relationship, job tenure overall has declined only mildly, with declining job stability for men being moderated by the influence of longer tenure for women, who are less likely than before to leave paid employment when they have children. 

The findings regarding the U.S., Japan and the European Union in the 1980's and the 1990's are all broadly consistent with earlier experience.  They challenge the popular idea that long-term employment relationships are a thing of the past.  If in the U.S. low average job tenure and job stability applies to men, it is rising for men and women in Japan, and is broadly stable for men as well as low though rising for women in Europe.

Full Text of TUAC comment available on 

TUAC comment on aspects of OECD Growth study concerning changes brought in through changing
nature of work

The OECD Growth study is right to point out that work within firms must be reeorganized if the benefits of new technology are to be enhanced and the potential of human capital fully realized.  Many recent studies show that there is a strong association between the use of ICT and new work practices such as teamwork, employee participation and flatter management structures.

American research shows clearly, notably in manufacturing, that high performance work systems in which workers share decision-making responsibility with managers, deliver improved performance by the plants that adopt them.  The findings show that workers derive several benefits from such approaches:  more interesting work, greater employment security, and a high trust environment bringing greater job satisfaction.

Other conclusions to emerge include: re-engineering of workplaces introducing more high performance practices leads to greater productivity;  clear participation in an enterprise's activities by representatives of the unionized voice also aids productivity;  and work practices that transfer power to employees do not harm  the competitiveness of firms -- on the contrary they enhance it.

Firms that obstinately stick with the "low road" approach of minimal co-operation with their work forces, an attitude motivated by managerial fear of power-sharing with workers, will ultimately lose out to enterprises that apply a "governance system" fostering labour-management harmony and co-operation.

Full text of TUAC comment available on 

TUAC assesses 2001 OECD Ministerial and Forum

The OECD Ministerial Council and the parallel meetings of Environment Ministers and OECD Forum 2001 on Sustainable Development (May 14 - 17) were dominated by the attitude of the new US Administration to three issues:- the launching of a new trade round at the WTO Ministerial in November; the withdrawal of Administration support for the Kyoto Protocol on climate change; and the withdrawal of support for the OECD work to outlaw tax havens. This detracted from a sense of urgency on the immediate economic situation which continues to deteriorate, the OECD growth project and even broader discussion on sustainable development.

Nevertheless, TUAC welcomed the fact the communiqué issued at the conclusion of the meeting restates the 2000 Ministerial meeting theme of “shaping globalisation”, which is significant in that it is focused on governance of global markets as opposed to simple deregulation. In addition, it says that governments are committed to doing this in the “benefit of all, and ensuring that the poorest are not left behind” 

Senior representatives from TUAC affiliate unions were very active in the course of a substantial trade union participation at the meetings.  The Ministerial meeting TUAC team led by Vice-President Luc Cortebeeck comprised a dozen members, and some 25 affiliate members were involved as panellists, discussants, or questioners from the floor in Forum sessions devoted to issues related to the Forum's central theme of "Sustainable development and the New Economy".

The TUAC Statement to the meeting was presented at the social partner consultation session with the Ministers. The TUAC Vice Chair had the opportunity to make a formal presentation to the Ministerial Council session on economic growth.

To read the TUAC evaluation of the Ministerial Council click here 

OECD makes progress on sustainable development 
by including"workplaces, employment 
& transition" elements in new strategy

In a series of meetings held at the OECD from 14-17 May, Environment, Finance and Economy Ministers adopted a work programme on sustainable development, incorporating elements of certain trade union proposals.

A three-day public forum on sustainable development (OECD Forum 2001) fed into two separate Ministerial consultations with TUAC, BIAC and NGOs. One consultation was held with Environment Ministers and another with Finance & Economy Ministers. A final meeting of both groups resulted in the adoption by the OECD Council of Ministers of a number of documents outlining the direction the organisation will take on sustainable development issues over the next decade and in preparation for Earth Summit II, scheduled for September 2002. 

The TUAC note about the overall outcome of the OECD Council at the Ministerial level indicates how the meeting was dominated by the issue of the recent U.S. withdrawal from the Kyoto Protocol. However, the background documents, which the Council approved (including some which originated from the Environment Ministers) contained a number of significantly new policy directions, with respect to the trade union agenda for sustainable development, overall. Taken together, these documents contain a number of highlights:

Integrating the Social Dimension of Sustainable Development

The OECD commits itself to integrating the social dimension of sustainable development into economic and environmental plans. This differs from the approach adopted in 1996 where Ministers merely "recognized" the importance of the social dimension. For the first time Ministers agreed to a TUAC proposal for including social impact assessments along with other tools to facilitate the process of integration, and for the development of "indicators for the social and environmental interface". The OECD has called on its members "to review current funding priorities to determine whether sufficient resources are being devoted to research [on tools and indicators that allow better integration of …social objectives]". They also agreed to "assess and address the social implications of environmental policies, in particular the removal of environmentally harmful subsidies" and to "asses the environmental and social impacts of trade and investments", including for Export Credit Agencies.

Understanding Employment Implications, Including for Climate Change

A key tenet of TUAC's interventions was that employment must be recognized as a cornerstone of sustainable development policies. The Ministers agreed to "…address actual and potential effects of environmental policies on employment and income distribution" by "analysing and measuring employment effects (across sectors and regions) of environmental policies". They also agreed to place more focus on the employment effects of new technology and urged governments to sponsor more research to better forecast the benefits and risks of technology and technology transfers on employment. Environment Ministers also noted the joint progress of work by TUAC and BIAC to promote a better understanding of the employment impacts of climate change. Note: next 12 October OECD plans to host a joint TUAC/BIAC meeting in Paris on this subject.

Adopting a Workplace Focus and Promoting Partnerships

For the first time the notion of "workplaces" as a focus of action has been introduced as part of OECD's environmental strategy. The OECD adopted text seeking "the active partnership…among stakeholders, for example in the workplace". The documents do not identify in what specific circumstances such a focus would be brought to bear on implementation measures. However, programmes dealing with better uses of natural resources (e.g. energy and water) or for training and education (relating to agriculture and transport) would be potential areas for courses of action. Further, the documents refer to a focus on "workers" as a means of facilitating transition over production and consumption patterns and recognize the role of "business, trade unions and other NGOs…as active in policy debates about sustainable development". 

Developing Transition

It is a long standing policy of the ICFTU/TUAC/ITS OHSE Working Party to promote "Just Transition" as a means of planning for sustainable development.  Short of making reference to the terms used by TUAC the OECD Ministers have agreed to a number of elements contained in our proposals, which should be understood in connection with the employment implications, reviewed above. They have agreed to "include policies to facilitate adjustment and to gain public support for these instruments…" and to address effects by the "…redeployment of workers affected by these policy reforms, through labour market measures (e.g. income support, job-search assistance and retraining)". They have called for more research "…on the social adjustments likely to arise from policy changes".

With respect to climate change, the Ministers agreed to promote "adaptation strategies to reduce exposure to risks of climate change and to facilitate the transition of patterns of living that are less vulnerable to climate change". With respect to awareness raising they agreed to provide more information and promote dialogue with communities to "facilitate the transition to new forms of work and consumption".  As for adverse social impacts (e.g. income distribution and employment in specific industries) due to resource management policies, implementation should be done, in a way to facilitate structural adjustment. "When pricing natural resources, provide direct income support to poorer users rather then cross-subsidies or reduced fees as a means to achieve social objectives". Finally, in discussing the management of natural resources, Ministers recognized that "to avoid creating dependencly on short-term measures, countries need to have programmes in place that can help people move into more permanent employment elsewhere". 

Promoting Public Health 

The documents place some focus on public health as a policy focus, especially for the time leading up to Earth Summit II.  References to linking occupational health issues to public health are virtually non-existent except with reference to technology development, where TUAC has placed some focus in the last year on the issues of musculoskeletal disorders and ergnonomics as impacts from new forms of work and technology. While recognizing that "…technologies designed specifically to address particular issues related to pollution, public health or worker safety have not been immune from [certain consequences], the OECD agreed to "address unintended environmental and social consequences of technology, by separating technology promotion responsibilities from those on health, safety and environmental protection within governments.". There was also agreement to place more emphasis on research to better understand some of these risks. 

MAY 2001

TUAC Condemns Korean Government
for illegal jailing of Finance Union Officials,
Demands Immediate Release

    Statement, Paris 4 May 2001

TUAC issued a ringing condemnation of the Korean authorities for once again illegally imprisoning union officials in flagrant disregard of normal accepted labour rights.  Supported by a TUAC Plenary session resolution passed at the OECD on May 4, the TUAC protest to the Seoul authorities demanded the immediate release of  26 banking sector workers who received prison sentences of up to two years on charges of alleged illegal strike action. The President of the FKTU trade union federation has gone an hunger strike in protest at the arrests.

The TUAC protest said the Korean action was in flagrant disregard of normal union rights, and deliberately flouted  standard OECD practice which Korea had pledged to uphold when it joined the Paris-based international economic organisation in 1996.  The TUAC protest also expressed deep concern at the postponement till 2006 of an earlier commitment to allow trade union pluralism at workplace level.

To read the Statement click here

Global Unions Progress Group reviews Strategy
towards intergovernmental organisations

The ICFTU Group charged with examining the priorities, strategies and structures most likely to provide a basis for more effective trade union action in the context of globalisation, met in Brussels on March 29-30.  The session preceded further discussion in the TUAC Plenary Session to be held in Paris on May 3-4.   Part of the review, known as the Millennium Review, is looking at the trade union response to the evolving global economy and TUAC has been asked to bring together an informal reference group comprising representatives from affiliates, the ICFTU and other organisations concerned by the issues. 

A key trade union policy goal within the overall task of the Millennium Review is how to increase the overall "voice" of trade unions at the international and regional institutions that govern the global economy.  As requested by the ICFTU Progress Group, TUAC in coordination with the Workers' Activity Branch of the ILO undertook a stocktaking of trade union experiences with regional and international institutions.   This report is now available in draft form.  It constitutes a useful summary of the structures and roles of the main organisations active in shaping international economic policy, and will be an essential part of international trade union efforts to take forward a number of labour and employment-related initiatives. 

Further information and comments on the draft are welcome.

Click here for further information 

APRIL 2001

TUAC input to OECD Education Ministerial Session

(Paris, 2 - 4 April 2001)

A number of issues brought by TUAC to the attention of Ministers at the OECD Meeting of Ministers of Education were discussed during the conference held at OECD headquarters from April 2 to 4. Among them was the need to strengthen human and social capital as well as social cohesion within OECD societies. In their final communiqué Ministers invited the OECD to explore further the relationships between human and social capital and their contributions to human well-being, sustainable development and economic growth. They urged OECD to examine how education and training systems could be adapted to include all learners and to achieve equitable outcomes for all, while meeting the increasing diversity of learners' needs, maintaining cultural diversity and improving quality.

Ministers gave particular attention to the need to manage and facilitate investment in competencies for all - competencies understood to cover knowledge, skills, attitudes and values on which other learning depends, and the high-level intellectual and social competencies on which full engagement in the knowledge society depends. They considered the goal to foster the acquisition of these competencies as key. However, it was clearly expressed that they could not achieve it alone. Thus, they expressed their will to work closely with others, for example government colleagues, non-government organisations, trade unions, employers and others in the private sector to ensure greater co-ordination among education, social, economic and other policies. 

To read more, click here 

Union Proposals aim to Better Focus 
the Work of the G8 "Dot Force"

International trade unions have put together a set of proposals with the aim of improving the focus and scope of the work of the so-called DOT Force (Digital Opportunities Task Force) set up by the G8 at the Okinawa Summit.  The proposals, jointly agreed by TUAC, ICFTU, UNI, and PSI, are to be considered ahead of the next DOT Force meeting set for April 23-24 in Siena, Italy. The four union organisations concerned are all members of the Global Unions Group.

In their proposals the Global Unions group expresses concern that the DOT Force has so far failed to meet the challenge set in the Okinawa Charter with regard to integrating all major stakeholders in the project.  The main union criticisms are: 

 -  the DOT Force has not achieved a balance between business and other stakeholders, especially trade unions as well as other interested civil society groups;
 -  there have been inadequate efforts so far to work towards bridging the "digital divide" and G8 Governments should take the lead in bringing their official development aid up to agreed UN levels;
 -  women must be actively engaged in all initiatives, including the "digital divide"; 
 -  the workplace dimension of the digital divide must be integrated by incorporating the recommendations of the ILO's 2001 World Employment Report, and the ILO invited to the next DOT Force meeting.
To read more click here :

 Solidarity Online: A programme to promote online inclusion of trade unions in the developing world

 The work of the Digital Opportunities Task Force (Dot Force)

Unions urge G8 Consultations before
July Genoa Summit 

The Italian trade union organisations (CGIL, CISL, UIL) have proposed  the holding of a special consultation session with  the Italian Premier and other government representatives of G8 countries on the eve of the Genoa Summit due to be held from July 20 to 22. 

TUAC has also asked affiliates in G8 countries "to be in touch with their governments to support such a procedure, which would allow a dialogue with the G8 Government representatives as a whole and not just the host".  For their part, three Italian trade union confederations  have had a series of meetings with the Italian officials organising the Summit in order to raise the profile of the pre-Summit trade union consultations. 

The Italian unions are also holding discussions with other G8 affiliates and international organisations regarding issues to be presented in a number of related events in Genoa on 18 - 19 July. 

MARCH 2001

G8 environment ministers take up 
social and employment issues

(Trieste, Italy, 2-4 March, 2001) 

G8 Environment Ministers concluded their meeting in Trieste, Italy by strengthening their resolve to address climate change and sustainable development issues, along the lines recommended by trade unions and NGOs, which participated in a special consultation, held prior to the Ministerial meeting. 

"We recognize", concluded the Ministers, "that a firm consensus for action  on climate change is needed and that all sectors of society must be called upon to play their part in implementing change", further adding that "Addressing social and employment issues is a matter of fundamental importance to promoting consensus".

In discussing preparations for RIO+10 the Ministers urged the "engagement of civil society", including, among others, "workers and business organisations", as critical for "the implementation and monitoring" of its outcome. Ministers also adopted a text proposed by trade unions and emphasised "the need to integrate environmental, social and economic policy, including through the elaboration and formulation of national sustainable development strategies."

The G8 consultation took place with trade unions, business and non-governmental organisations. ICFTU and TUAC joined representatives from the national trade union centres in Italy - CGIL, CISL, and UIL, along with their NGO counterparts - to press for stronger resolve for action over climate change and sustainable development issues. The Business Advisory Committee to the OECD (BIAC) and International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) also participated in the special two hour dialogue with the Ministers.

Ministers also discussed environment and health issues (water, sanitation, air quality, food safety and chemicals management) and the actions required to help groups that are particularly vulnerable to poverty. They stressed the importance of promoting the OECD Guidelines on Multinationals, as well as developing environmental guidelines for Export Credit Agencies.

The Ministers from Canada, Germany, France, Italy, Japan, United Kingdom, United States, and the EU, touched upon some of the major issues brought forward by civil society representatives at the meeting and they called on their involvement in the process leading up to Rio+10.

The Consultation was spearheaded by the Italian trade union centres,  working closely with their national counterparts. 

The adoption of "social and employment issues" as a focus for G8 Ministers, is significant for trade union work on climate change and sustainable development. 

Trade union activities at COP6 flowed from a prior meeting at the OECD in Paris between TUAC and BIAC, in which business and trade unions pledged to work together on employment and climate change. The COP6 meeting resolved to jointly push for more cooperation for research with the ILO and OECD, the European Union, as well as with national governments, academia and research bodies. 

BIAC and TUAC plan to organise a follow up meeting at the OECD, prior to COP7 and had agreed to jointly push for employment issues to be addressed by G8 Ministers in Trieste. 

To read more click here 

TUAC calls for involvement of employees 
and communities at Global Forum
on "e-government"

   (Naples, Italy, 15 - 17 March 2001) 

TUAC took part in a workshop devoted to Change and Knowledge Management held as part of the Third Global Forum on "Fostering Democracy and Development through e-Government", organised by the Italian Government in Naples from 15 to 17 March. 

The session discussed how the technical changes associated with the implementation of e-government could be accompanied by a change in management strategy to "bring people along with the change".  The ability of civil servants to understand the purpose of new technologies and their role in achieving successful reforms were seen as crucial.  Governments needed to help workers  to learn a culture of increased adaptability and information sharing, while also creating incentives to keep pace with the evolving information society.

TUAC argued that in the "new economy" redundancies have, unfortunately, been a far from rare part of the dot com story, and the accelerating pace of change plus mounting work pressure are causing increasing anxiety and insecurity.  In addressing the workshop, John Evans said "this is not a good foundation for a high performance economy." He concluded his session presentation: "E-commerce clearly has great potential for countries everywhere. Unions can counterbalance the centrifugal forces created by globalisation and technological change in a way that individuals cannot.  Like businesses, they have to evolve with the times.  But, as with businesses, the basic ground rules remain the same." TUAC also argued for effective strategies to be put in place to bridge the "digital divide". 

Trade Union Input to OECD Meeting 
on Trade and Labour Standards

  (OECD, Paris, 8-9 March 2001)

The "Global Forum for Trade" set up by OECD for trade policy issue discussions involving OECD and non-Member countries held its first meeting on 8-9 March, devoted to "Trade policy issues:  the Labour, Environmental and Competition dimensions".  In co-operation with the ICFTU, TUAC arranged for the participation of several trade union speakers from non-OECD countries as part of the trade union delegation to the meeting. 

The following were among the issues reviewed by participants:
-   Linkages between core labour standards, trade, foreign direct investment, development and employment;

-   Replication and adaptation possibilities for promoting core labour standards from existing regional and national agreements;

-   Panel discussion on compliance with core labour standards, followed by an exchange of views on forward-looking perspectives in this field, including the role of international organisations and voluntary bodies;

-   A review of  recent OECD work on trade policy linkages, notably as they affect competition and environment questions. 

Papers and conclusions will shortly be available on the OECD website.


OECD Emerging Market Economy Forum 
on Electronic Commerce held in Dubai

(Dubai, 15 - 17 January 2001)

Roland Schneider took part on behalf of TUAC in an international forum on electronic commerce and the use of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) with emerging and developing countries, held in mid-January in the Gulf state of Dubai.   The main objective of the conference was to review developments in a number of areas relevant to electronic commerce, including security, privacy, content, taxation, pricing, standards and intellectual property rights. The issue of digital divides, within and between countries, was also discussed. According to the views expressed by business and by governments at the conference, in order to bridge the digital divide and to create digital opportunities,  it was necessary to enhance access for all to information technology and the internet, building on on-going market infrastructure development.  A business representative summarised the recipe to overcome the split between the digital have's and have not's in three simple words: "liberalise, liberalise, liberalise".

However, the digital divide is not just technical, nor is it primarily about access and computers.  It is caused by a broader set of societal and economic issues.  This was emphasised by TUAC. Schneider stressed that the roots of the digital divide have long existed, and were traditionally known as poverty, oppression, racism and discrimination.   Computers have not created a new social evil, but have exacerbated existing ones.  He warned against hoping that deregulated, liberalised markets for telecommunications services, on-going price-decreases of IT equipment and private sector initiatives alone would suffice to narrow the divide substantially.  "Efforts to exploit the digital divide simply for the benefit of corporate welfare will fail," he said.  Instead he called for a broader set of policies and actions set in an overall framework of sustainable development, giving particular attention to education and training as well as to the provision of local or indigenous content.  Finally, he urged participating government representatives not only to involve businesses and the private sector organisations in policy initiatives intended to bridge the divide, but to include trade unions in the efforts also. 

TUAC calls for response to social issues 
within Digital Challenge

In an article on "Digital workplaces, unions and trust", published in a recent issue of the OECD Observer, TUAC General Secretary John Evans warns that social protection and representation are as important in the New Economy as they have been in the Old Economy.   Workers have played a key role in the development of the on-line economy, but they can also be its victims.  "The accelerating pace of change and mounting work pressure are causing anxiety and insecurity", he writes. 

Emphasising the urgency of leaving behind the "simplistic notion of 'labour market flexibility', where workers are expected to give up social protection, decent wages or job security," Evans says organised labour must ensure that "economic policies translate potential productivity increases into real social and economic gains".  Recalling that e-commerce clearly has "great potential" for countries everywhere, he says "unions can counterbalance centrifugal forces created by globalisation and technological forces in a way individuals cannot."

To read the article click here 

Management and Trade Union Meeting 
on Firms, Workers and the Changing Workplace
in the New Economy 

(OECD, Paris 23rd February 2001)

TUAC and business representatives, with OECD and Member Government participants, are taking part in a meeting at OECD on "Firms, Workers and the Changing Workplace: Considerations for the Old and the New Economy".  Organised in the context of the Labour/Management Programme the session is being held at OECD on 23rd February 2001. The rapporteur of the meeting will be Robert Taylor, Employment Editor of the Financial Times.

The meeting is intended: 
- (a) to encourage dialogue among business and trade unions on new facts about economic growth, notably opportunities raised by the new economy, especially the role of information and communications technology; 
- (b) to discuss changes and challenges in the area of labour and employment brought about by the new economy, and 
- (c) to stimulate dialogue on the policies and institutions that can help to increase the benefits of the process and reduce social costs. 

Information and communication technologies: Implementation strategies have so far failed
to improve the quality of work

The assumption that working conditions are automatically improving due to the transition towards the information economy has turned out to be unfounded so far. The current reality for most people at work is a striking disparity between the potential of new information and communication technologies (ICT) to improve working conditions and an ongoing intensification of the actual work. The failure to further improve the quality of work in the emerging information economy will have serious implications for health, productivity and the ability to innovate. In order to maintain and strengthen the readiness of workers to cope with the challenges of new technologies in a globalised information economy, policies must be put in place to ensure that employees are given the opportunity to experience a substantial improvement in the quality of work. This applies in particular to new forms of work organisation offering a broader work experience based on a skill-upgrade as well as work, which is adjusted to the needs of family and personal life. Moreover, it is important to note in this regard that almost no aspect of the quality of work is predetermined by ICT and that not all ways of implementing ICT are equally effective. In finalizing the current work of its Growth Project the OECD must take this into account. 

These messages emerge from the World Employment Report  released by the ILO and from the first findings of the Third European Survey on Working Conditions,  conducted by the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions, a Dublin-based European agency. In a survey, carried out in 2000, the European Foundation questioned more than 21 000 workers on their working conditions in face-to-face interviews. More than two fifths of the persons interviewed were working with computers (43%). 

According to the findings, the portion of workers exposed to stressful physical environments (noise, polluted air, heat, cold, vibrations), carrying heavy loads and working in painful and tiring positions, has slightly increased. The same applies to the intensity of work and the pace of work. More than half of the workers surveyed report working at high speed (56%) and to tight deadlines during at least one quarter of their working time. 

It is also disappointing that there was no increase in the share of workers having control over their own pace of work or of those with personal control over their work methods as compared to earlier surveys. Also striking is the fact that repetitive work is still widespread and remains stable. As in 1995 almost three out of five workers reported on repetitive tasks at work (57%), one third of them on a permanent basis. Taken altogether, it is not encouraging to realise that large numbers of workers complain of stress, burn-out and blurring boundaries between work and leisure, the latter caused in particular by fluctuating work schedules and increasing "Round the clock" work. 


TUAC welcomes outcome of G8 Labour
Ministers' Conference

    (Turin, 10 - 11 November 2000)

After contributing trade union input to the G8 Labour Ministers' Conference held in Turin on 10 and 11 November, TUAC welcomed the concluding Statement issued at the close of the deliberations. The ministers also adopted a Charter on active ageing.  In particular it highlighted as positive the following points:

-   The consolidation of favourable world economic prospects made it essential that Governments maintained a stable and growth-oriented framework through the use of the right macroeconomic tools to set the climate for growth and prosperity;

-   With a skilled and adaptable workforce as a key element, full employment in a knowledge-based society remained the overarching socio-economic goal, linked to structural reforms to the labour, capital and product markets;

-   The interrelated nature of social and economic goals meant that economic and social policies needed more than ever to be designed coherently;

-   Engaging business and labour in developing a highly-skilled labour force was seen as key to supporting the growth of productive employment opportunities and to attaining sustained employment growth;

-   The need to put into effect new forms of work arrangements should be balanced by governments, trade unions and employers working together to ensure that new flexible work arrangements are linked with security, equal access to work training and career development for employees, in a context of family-friendly policies and the work-life balance.

The G8 Labour Ministers, in their statement, stressed the need to incorporate social protection provisions and core labour standards in the permanent policy dialogue notably in the context of co-operation between the ILO and the international financial institutions and the WTO.  The Ministers also urged governments to pursue "active ageing" policies to utilise the potential for increased labour force participation among older workers.  These involved a range of policies affecting lifelong learning, measures to prevent the emergence of a "digital divide", and ways of raising participation rates, as well as pension and welfare adjustments to promote active participation and improve income support. 

Click here for the full text of the trade union Submission to the Turin meeting 

Trade unions and business set basis for combined action 
on climate change

   (The Hague, 23 November 2000)

Disturbed by the failure of the Hague climate Conference, representatives of trade unions and business at the Climate Change Conference in the Hague pledged to work together to obtain official recognition by Governments of employment and social implications of climate change or measures to mitigate its effects.  ICFTU, TUAC and ETUC representatives were among those who emphasised that full support for the implementation of climate change measures was dependent on official recognition of the employment impacts of such measures, and the taking of appropriate transition steps. 

BIAC and TUAC/ICFTU, the two major parties to the agreement, issued statements at the Hague meeting to draw in official international bodies such as the European Union as well as national governments and academic institutions in an effort to produce a comprehensive and long-term research programme devoted to social and employment equity. 

TUAC Plenary session held at OECD headquarters

(Paris, 16-17 November 2000)

The TUAC's plenary session, held for the first time under the chairmanship of AFL-CIO President John Sweeney, met at OECD headquarters on 16 and 17 November.  Among the prominent items were:

- a review of recent developments affecting labour rights in Korea, 

- a wide-ranging discussion on current issues in the fields of globalisation, trade, investment, and labour standards, 

- follow-up to two G8 meetings in 2000 (the July Okinawa summit, and the November meeting of Labour ministers in Turin),

- TUAC's contribution to the OECD Growth Project (regarding the new economy and related changes in work organisation, performance and investment,

- TUAC's involvement in the international trade union "Millennium Review" which is being coordinated by the ICFTU.  TUAC is particularly involved in two parts of the Review, "tackling the power of the multinationals" and "global economy and development". 

The TUAC met with the OECD Liaison Committee to discuss the need for social rules in the global market place. Click here for 

 TUAC Working group on Education, 
Training and Employment policy

The TUAC Group on Education, Training and Employment policy met in Paris on 21 November 2000.  The Group notably discussed the preparation of TUAC input to the forthcoming meeting of the OECD Education Committee at Ministerial level, due to take place on 2 - 4 April, 2001.  When OECD Education Ministers met in 1996 they adopted the goal of "lifelong learning for all".  Today the emphasis has shifted to "competences for all" , especially under the pressures of fast-evolving information and communications technology in a context marked by learning having taken over the focus from teaching. 

The meeting was followed on November 22 by a session of Management and Trade Union experts discussing Human Resources in the new economy: Challenges and Opportunities for Education and Training.  This session also provided a useful contribution to the body of work being fed into the forthcoming meeting of OECD Education Ministers. 

Trade union participants in outreach meeting 
with non-OECD Countries 
on the Multinational Enterprise Guidelines

      (Paris, 12 December 2000)

TUAC representatives and trade unionists from non-OECD countries were scheduled to take part in an OECD Outreach Meeting with non-Member countries on the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, which were comprehensively revised in the Spring of 2000.      The revision, agreed by 29 OECD Members as well as by non-Members Argentina, Brazil, Chile and the Slovak Republic (which has since become a Member of OECD), involved closer consultations with BIAC and TUAC than those that took place during the preparation of the previous guidelines adopted in 1991. 

The outreach meeting will be followed on the morning of 13 December by a consultation on the Guidelines between the OECD, TUAC, BIAC and a number of NGOs.

The New Global Financial Architecture:  TUAC contribution to a  Bundestag Study Commission report

In line with its involvement in international efforts to work towards a new global financial architecture, TUAC met a request for trade union comments to a Bundestag Study Commission on "Globalisation of the World Economy".  The TUAC response notably highlighted unbridled financial liberalisation and  destabilising financial inflows and outflows as among the key causes of the major Asian financial crisis in 1997-1998.  Additional concern was felt in the fact that capital flight gave crisis-hit countries no alternative to having to accept draconian emergency lending terms from the IMF.

The TUAC submission to the Bundestag listed the following measures as capable of inducing better regulation of international financial markets: 

-    Improved fiscal and monetary policy coordination between the key currency blocs of the dollar, the yen and the euro;

-    Recognition of the right of states to control short-term foreign capital in- and outflows in the interest of domestic macroeconomic stability;

-    Binding international standards for prudential regulation of financial markets, notably to rein in short-term foreign currency exposure, risky derivatives trading and credit-heavy leverage operations;

-    Institution of transparent banking systems, bound by effective disclosure criteria;

-    Improved information on currency flows, private debts and reserves;

-    Detailed  examination of the implementation of an international tax on foreign exchange transactions. 

 To read the submission click here 


International Labour Movement
Agrees Strategic Approach
To Implement The
OECD Guidelines For Multinational Enterprises

The TUAC Working Group on International Trade and Investment met in Paris on 20 September. For TUAC affiliates, the ICFTU, ITSs and the ETUC it was the first opportunity to discuss recent developments relating to the revised Guidelines, since their endorsement on June 27 2000 by the OECD Ministerial Council. Many TUAC affiliates reported notable signs of national level activity by National Contact Points (NCPs), including their reactivation, and new or more developed tripartite structures. The attached schematic diagram (click here)  summarises recent national and international developments concerning the revised Guidelines.

Participants discussed the development of a strategic trade union approach to implementing the Guidelines. It was agreed that there could be no “blueprint” for action, rather activities should be organised according to differing national circumstances, based around a co-operative approach between the TUAC, ICFTU, ETUC, ITSs and their affiliates, whether at the national or international levels. Broad agreement was reached that the Guidelines could play a role to stimulate trade union dialogue with MNEs, which could lead among other things to ITS/MNE framework agreements. At the same time Guidelines cases could be brought forward to NCPs. Further discussions were held on a range of related issues, including how to involve trade unions in non-OECD countries, and possible joint campaigning with NGOs on Guidelines issues. The attached (click here)  summary report of the meeting by the TUAC Secretariat covers these issues more fully.

Labour and Human Rights Groups Press Nobel Peace Prize Winner Kim to improve South Korea's Record

(Seoul, 13 October)

International labour and human rights groups are putting stronger pressure on the Korean government to improve its human rights record especially as regards its treatment of trade unions. The international pressure comes in the wake of the Nobel Peace Prize being awarded to Korean President Kim Dae-Jung on the eve of an Asia-Europe summit taking place this week in Seoul.

Trade unions have accused the South Korean government of failing to honour commitments regarding rights for labour unions and of attacking workers' groups. Strong criticism came from international union leaders at a seminar last weekend in Seoul. TUAC General Secretary John Evans drew attention to the fact that social progress in South Korea had not kept pace with the country's economic resurgence. In a press statement he said: "Trade unionists are still harassed or imprisoned for activities considered legitimate in other OECD countries."  He added : " There is still some kind of control mentality on the part of the government and there is an urgent need to stop considering trade unionism as a criminal activity."

The Seoul seminar was organised by TUAC in conjunction with the Brussels-based ICFTU, which has 216 affiliate unions around the world, FES (Friedrich  Ebert Foundation) and South Korea's two main union federations, the FKTU an KCTU. An ICFTU report questioned the record of South Korean President Kim  Dae-Jung who was awarded the Nobel peace prize on October 13. It said that in 1998, the first year in office of the Kim administration, 209 unionists were arrested, imprisoned or sought by the police. This number of arrests was higher than in any year under the previous South Korean government. Other international groups taking part in the efforts to pressure the Kim administration to implement  promise reforms include Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.

For further information on the ICFTU report, click here 

Tackling poverty and social exclusion
OECD Conference, 

(London, 9-10 Oct 2000)

Inequality has grown in OECD countries over the past two decades, and persistent poverty and social exclusion have come to affect new population groups, notably single parent families.  Also job insecurity and corporate restructuring have resulted in much wider groups of workers  being touched by poverty.  Furthermore, the "new economy" is adding a digital divide to the existing social divide.

These were among the main concerns raised by TUAC in a contribution to the OECD Ministers' Conference on Best Practice in tackling Poverty and Social Exclusion, held in London on October 9 and 10.   The TUAC discussion paper presented by General Secretary John Evans emphasised that the challenge of reducing social exclusion could only be met if economic policies and the actions of the social partners were geared to achieving and maintaining full employment. Social policies must be seen as an investment and not simply as a drain on public expenditure.

The TUAC presentation emphasised a number of other points, in particular:

  •  Active labour market policies are preferable to meek acceptance of unemployment, but the goal is to get people out of poverty not out of welfare;
  • Individual counselling, assistance and training are essential accompanying measures for workers in new jobs, and career ladders must be created for low-paid workers;
  • Increases in minimum wages in many countries are needed, combined with well targeted in-work benefits and programmes;
  • "Family-friendly" policies, including improved child care provisions, have to be seen as a social investment;
  • Trade unions are key stakeholders, ready to work in partnership with governments and employers to reduce social exclusion.
  • To read the full text click here 

    Business and Trade Unions agree
    on Common Approaches to Climate Change

    (OECD, Paris, 2 October 2000)

    At their first ever international meeting on climate change, held at the OECD on October 2, business and trade union representatives agreed to take common approaches to deal with employment impacts, and pledged to promote more effective implementation of international climate agreements.

    Some 25 trade union representatives from throughout the world met an equal number from business to seek common ground over sustainable growth policies, employment and social transition impacts of climate change and the role of voluntary approaches in implementing targets.  Representatives of the OECD, ILO, IEA, UNFCCC and NGO's took part in the discussions.  Delegates from 13 OECD Governments were also present.

    TUAC General Secretary John Evans commented: "The meeting was significant because agreement was reached between business and labour that the employment and social implications of climate change must be addressed."  The representatives agreed to press for more cooperation between the ILO, OECD and the European Union, and to urge them to set aside resources for research to assess employment and social impacts.

    While trade unions highlighted the need for common workplace approaches to implement targets and improve efficiency, business accepted that voluntary approaches should become more transparent and involve partners in designing and implementing them.   The meeting paves the way for more focused discussions by both parties at future international negotiations of the Climate Change Convention, notably the next round scheduled in the Hague at the end of November.

    TUAC Economic Policy Working Group hones Statement for November G8 Jobs Conference in Turin

    TUAC's Working Group on Economic Policy met at the OECD in Paris on October 11 and 12 to review the current economic situation, and to discuss G8 issues in preparing  trade union input and a statement for the forthcoming G8 Labour Ministers' Conference in Turin.   The agenda also took in reviews of ongoing TUAC work on structural unemployment, international financial architecture questions, and a round table discussion on the OECD's New Economy/Growth project.

    Discussion under the first agenda item focused on an assessment of employment and growth prospects in discussion with OECD chief economist Ignazio Visco, whose department is currently working on the end-of-year OECD Economic Outlook, and participants also reviewed oil price developments.   The second main agenda item concerned the trade union input to the G8 Employment Conference scheduled for  9-11 November in Turin, and the group finalised a draft trade union statement to the conference.    This statement focused on the following three main issues:

    (1) There is an opportunity to continue to reduce unemployment with the aim of achieving full employment if faster growth can be sustained, provided the macroeconomic situation can be kept on track;

    (2)  Following the post-Okinawa summit creation of a "dot com force", there is a need for a more developed policy response to the labour and social implications, particularly action to prevent a "digital divide" being added to the current social divide;

    (3)  Public concern is rising in G8 countries and further afield over the detrimental side-effects that globalisation based on simple deregulation of markets will bring, whilst at the same time very little is done to assist the large majority of the world's population still trapped in poverty.

    Informal Consultations between the OECD Trade Committee and NGOs

    (OECD Paris, 23 October) 

    The informal consultations on 23 October between the OECD Trade Committee and NGOs focus on  "Future challenges for the multilateral trading system". The need for a broader engagement with civil society on trade issues was recognised by Ministers in the 2000 OECD Ministerial Council meeting as one of the lessons to be drawn from Seattle.  One way of promoting this dialogue is to share with a wider audience the trade policy work that OECD has concluded, as well as work now in progress.

    This second round of consultations follows the inaugural round held in October 1999.  when a number of NGOs emphasised that trade liberalisation was not a goal in itself , but rather a means to achieve sustainable development. The OECD Ministerial communiqué in June 2000 recognised the need to build consensus for a new round of multilateral trade negotiations.  Central to the success of such consensus-building will be agreement on how labour and environmental issues are to be addressed. 

    Traditional Macroeconomic Policy
    is still Key to Jobs

    Are innovation and new technology, the so-called "new economy", largely responsible for the recent growth in employment in the United States, widely regarded as the world's most dynamic economy?   The answer is "no", according to an important new study "The State of Working America" produced by the Economic Policy Institute in Washington, and published by the Cornell University Press.

    Writing in "The Guardian", John Schmitt, one of the authors of this highly readable and informative 444-page report, comments: "Advocates of the US model argue there's nothing about high unemployment in Europe that a good dose of US-style labour-market flexibility couldn't remedy.  The US economic recovery since 1996, however, has provided remarkably little support for this diagnosis.  The data show that the real secret is old-fashioned macroeconomic policy."

    Robert Taylor, labour editor of the Financial Times, writes of the Washington report: "Are we going back to the future in the world of work?  The remarkable return of the full-time regular permanent job in the US since 1995 is a direct result of the return of full employment."  He says the report should be required reading for all recruitment companies aand human resource managers, noting the following points:

    -  a sustained increase in aggregate demand, steady economic growth and impressive productivity improvement have all combined to strengthen workers' bargaining power and brought a return to the standardised job;

    -  the groups in greatest demand in IT were indeed those with new skills, but they were managers and sales workers, which suggests that the conventional wisdom of ever-accelerating technology-driven growth in demand for skill is false;

    -  a new distribution of jobs accross occupations will require an annual growth of 0.7 per cent in average schooling years, but "the occupational shifts are not expected to generate a large growth in the demand for education, at least by historical standards";

    -  the US jobs machine is widely regarded as a wonder of the modern world, but the EPI report adjusts the perception to some extent -- "the US employs a greater share of its working age population than any other western market economy...... yet in the 1990s Ireland, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Australia and Norway all created proportionately more jobs than the US, even though these countries have different kinds of social regulation of labour", writes Robert Taylor.

    AUGUST 2000

    TUAC gives mixed reaction
    to Okinawa G8 Summit outcome

    Billed by the host government of Japan as a meeting to focus mainly on development issues and information technology, the Okinawa G8 summit agred a new Charter on IT but failed to produce a break through on debt relief.

    A TUAC evaluation of the summit notes that the final communiqué set targets for health and education improvements in developing countries and announced efforts to implement the 1999 Cologne G8 agreement on debt relief for the poorest countries.  Failure to deliver on past promises and the lack of any commitment of new resources, however,  meant that the targets were greeted with scepticism.

    The summit agreed on an "Okinawa Charter on the Global Information Society" which now takes account of pressure exerted by TUAC affiliates.  It now also emphasises social issues and calls for a "partnership approach" by government, the private sector and civil society to avoid the emergence of a "digital divide"  within and between countries.   In pre-summit consultations with Japanese premier Mori, trade union delegates stressed six objectives for the meeting: 

    -    A significant breakthrough on debt relief and poverty reduction;
    -    A summit message for global sustained growth with the aim of achieving full employment;
    -    A clear commitment to guarantee core labour rights;
    -    A socially-balanced approach to the introduction and development of information technology;
    -    A commitment to participatory strategies and trade union involvement;
    -    A wide public debate on reform of the financial market "architecture".

    TUAC's overall assessment is that while the final communiqué reflects the above concerns and repeatedly urges the need to reduce world poverty, there is a lack of clarity as to how objectives are to be achieved in practice and how they are to be financed. 

    To read the TUAC Evaluation, click here 

    UN Global Compact to enhance dialogue
    between MNE's, Unions and NGO's

    World union leaders have welcomed the UN Global Compact as offering a further opportunity for global dialogue between MNE's, unions and NGO's, but they say it cannot replace binding rules to regulate the behaviour of multinational companies.   The endorsement came at a high-level meeting convened by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on July 26, bringing together leading figures from MNE's, international union organisations and NGO's, as well as heads of UN agencies concerned by the issues. 

    TUAC General Secretary John Evans, also representing the ICFTU, said of the UN gathering: "The Compact should enhance rather than undermine the role of governments in ensuring that effective rules are put in place and implemented.  It should help to create a space for dialogue and the forging of partnerships between business and labour, with the aim of promoting corporate social responsibility." Union leaders stressed the importance of public scrutiny of company compliance with principles such as the recently revised OECD Guidelines on Multinational Enterprises (MNE's), agreed after a process of extensive consultations in which TUAC payed an active part.  Respect for the rules of accountability and transparency was seen as particularly necessary. 

    A number of union leaders underlined the need for employer recognition of union rights to freedom of association, seen as a vital element in ensuring successful  partnership and commitment which would be almost non-existent in situations where unions were weak or not allowed to organise.  Business leaders welcomed the Global Compact as a timely initiative, and expressed willingness to establish and strengthen partnerships with trade unions and NGO's in giving effect to the nine principles of the Compact.

    Click here for complete text 

    OECD Ministerial begins to set out rules 
    for "Shaping Globalisation "

    The Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises and the OECD Report on harmful tax competition and tax havens agreed  at this year's OECD Ministerial Council (26-27 June) are two examples of the rules that the OECD is beginning to draw up to "shape globalisation". The Ministerial Communiqué also reflected TUAC's call for a return of the "full employment".

    This followed increased input by a high level trade union delegation at this year's meeting. The delegation met with the OECD Ministers on the eve of the Ministerial Meeting on 25 June and, for the fist time made a presentation to the full Ministerial Session meeting on 26 June and to the Guidelines Session on 27 June.

    The OECD Communiqué is available on the OECD web site: 

    To read the TUAC Evaluation, click here 

    OECD adopts revised Guidelines 
    for Multinational Enterprises

    The Trade Union Advisory Committee to OECD (TUAC) says that the revitalised Guidelines for Multinationals that were adopted, on 27 June 2000, by OECD countries plus Argentine, Brazil, Chile and the Slovak Republic could become an effective tool for trade unions seeking to improve and strengthen labour standards and the occupational health, safety and environment practices as well as other key standards of the world's largest corporations.

    TUAC has been involved in the evolution of the OECD Guidelines since 1976 and was involved in a recent round of negotiations to update them, along with business, NGO's and OECD member countries. 

    "What distinguishes these Guidelines from the past" says TUAC General Secretary, John Evans, "is that, for the first time, a set of implementation procedures have been adopted". The new Guidelines deal with disclosure and performance rules for multinationals related to employment and industrial relations (including occupational health & safety), environment, bribery, consumer interests, science & technology, as well as competition and taxation. They also contain procedures for Governments to promote and implement the Guidelines.

    TUAC welcomed the OECD agreement, saying it is a recognition that the business as usual approach to globalisation has failed, and that there is a need to establish new global rules covering labour, social, environmental and other issues. 

    However Evans warns that the real work on the Guidelines is only beginning. "Governments have to commit themselves to working with trade unions at the national and international levels" he says, "so as to ensure that the Guidelines are implemented and enforced in practice". He said that the Guidelines would be part of a process for governments to set rules for corporations over a broad range of standards.

    "We will be working to expose companies and national contact points that flout the Guidelines" warned Evans, saying that TUAC would "work with governments, businesses and NGOs that share our commitment to making the Guidelines work". 

    "We will use the new and expanded implementation procedures of the Guidelines to hold multinationals to a high standard of conduct wherever they operate" he concluded. The Guidelines centre on governments establishing national contact points which would resolve cases and make public their recommendations to companies. 

    The OECD Guidelines are available on the OECD Website : http://www.oecd.org/daf/investment/guidelines/

    To read the TUAC Statement to the OECD Ministerial Session on the Guidelines, Click here 

    JULY 2000

    TUAC protests at police violence
    against Korean workers 

    TUAC has added its voice to the growing international protest directed at the Korean authorities regarding violent action by Korean police against hotel workers staging peaceful demonstrations in support of their claims against their employer, the Lotte hotel in Seoul. 

    TUAC informed OECD Secretary-general Donald Johnston that the international labour movement "is deeply concerned at the renewed police violence and repression of members of our Korean affiliate, the KCTU".  The note to the OECD head cited violent action by police on June 30, which resulted in scores of injuries to workers, aand numerous arrests, followed by further police violence on July 12.   The TUAC note reports that KCTU President Dan Byung-ho was arrested and badly treated in a wave of aggression by police carrying out a "quite shocking humiliation of striking workers". 

    Noting the great concern in the international labour movement, the TUAC note to the OECD comments on the fragility of progress in labour law reform and practice in Korea.  It reafffirms the importance of the OECD Council decision in May to continue the special monitoring process on Korean Labour law reform, and urges OECD's top official to use his good offices to bring about an end to the violence and move to a negotiated settlement in the dispute. 

    Information on this strike is available on the KCTU web-site at http://www.nodong.org/english/index.htm.

    In a separate dispute in the financial sector the FKTU trade union has negotiated a settlement which has been welcomed by TUAC and the international labour movement.

    Japanese Prime Minister, Mr. Yoshiro Mori
    Stresses Need For Trade Union Co-operation Over
    Okinawa G8 Agenda

    Tokyo, 5 July

    Leaders of the G8 trade union national centres met 5 July 2000 with the Japanese Prime Minister Mr. Yoshiro Mori, host of the July 2000 Okinawa G8 Summit of Heads of State and presented a Trade Union Statement to the G8 prepared by TUAC. The meeting at which Mr. Mori was accompanied by his Labour Minister, Mr. Yoshio Yoshikawa, and key government officials, was the Prime Minister's first official engagement since his re-election by the Diet the previous day. 

    Etsuya Washio, RENGO President and host of the trade union delegation, in his welcoming remarks called on the Prime Minister to push fellow G8 leaders at Okinawa to adopt the agenda as set out in the trade union statement. In response the Prime Minister set out his hopes for the Okinawa Summit, including that Heads of State would discuss: global economic management, including reforms to the international financial system; an information technology (IT) Charter; and development and poverty reduction. Government co-operation on these policy issues was needed, but to be fruitful the support and co-operation of the labour and business community was also needed. Going further he said that he had considered the trade union statement to the Summit meeting and wanted to actively use it during the discussions.

    John Sweeney, President of the AFL-CIO, and TUAC thanked Mr. Mori for his comments on government – labour co-operation , and then set out the main messages contained in the trade union statement to the Summit. He was followed by Bill Jordan, ICFTU General Secretary who stressed the need for a coherent multilateral response to meet the increasing public concerns around the failings of the global trade and investment system. Dieter Schulte, President of the DGB called on the Okinawa Summit to send a message to Finance Ministers and Central Banks not to turn the taps off on economic and employment growth by unnecessary interest rate hikes. In turn Rodney Bickerstaffe, representing the TUC lamented the lack of progress on debt relief, especially that by G8 governments who had failed to live up to their commitments made at the 1999 Cologne Summit meeting. Guglielmo Epifani, Deputy General Secretary of the CGIL said that for any Okinawa IT Charter to have any life beyond the Summit it had to include a social dimension and an agenda for giving workers, through their trade unions a voice in, among other things the implementation of information technology (IT). Ken Georgetti, President of the CLC concluded for the trade union side by setting out a range of required policy initiatives around sustainable development, including how to re-gain the public’s trust for biotechnology and food safety issues.

    In response Prime Minister Mori said that economic recovery and job creation in Japan was a necessary precondition for global stability. He recognised that the widening information gap across countries risked giving rise to a ‘digital divide’, and further recognised that the G8 had a responsibility to address that. On debt relief he stated that commitments made at Cologne should be implemented as swiftly as possible, and requested the views of civil society on achieving that. Regarding reform of the financial market architecture he said that foreign exchange market stability was needed for overall financial stability, and that ways had to be worked out on how to stabilise short-run capital flows. On that he wanted the G8 to deepen its understanding. When discussing sustainable development, food safety and GMOs he wanted to deepen the discussions, including that as regards health impacts. Turning to what he termed “peace and social justice” in the world he stated that reforms to strengthen the UN system were required.

    Prior to the meeting with the Prime Minister, RENGO organised a seminar for the trade union leaders entitled, “Toward a Stable International Financial System, and the Development of an East Asian Economic Area”. Click here  to view the RENGO issue paper, and that by Mr. Toyoo Gyoten, Chair of a Study Group on the International Economy and Financial System, and President of the Japanese Institute for International Monetary Affairs.

    JUNE 2000

    Unions call on G8 to push for full employment
     And bring in effective rules for globalisation

    A high-level trade union delegation will confer with the Japanese Prime Minister, Mr. Yoshiro Mori, hosting the Okinawa Summit on 5 July at a meeting in Tokyo arranged by the Japanese Trade Union Confederation, RENGO.

    The Prime Minister will be given a comprehensive policy statement drawn up by TUAC which calls on governments to:-

    - Take co-ordinated measures to sustain and balance demand growth in the world economy with the objective of reducing global poverty and restoring full employment;

    - Re-regulate international financial markets and launch a widespread public debate to establish legitimacy for the reform of the financial institutions;

    - Act comprehensively through development assistance policies, debt write-off and the development of broad-based social safety nets and policies of the International Financial Institutions (IFI’s) to meet the objectives of poverty reduction in developing countries;

    - Move decisively to ensure that global trade and investment systems reinforce the work of the ILO to guarantee core labour standards;

    - Use the benefits of the “new economy” by encouraging a high road to the management of structural change through the improvement of education, skill and productivity levels;

    - Ensure that growth is socially and environmentally sustainable.

    The Prime Minister will be asked to ensure that these views are put before the G8 leaders at the Okinawa Summit on 21-23 July 2000.

    To read the TUAC Statement, click here 

    Review of the OECD Guidelines 
    For Multinational Enterprises 
    Close to Completion

    Governments Must Lock in Progress Made

    Governments have taken a further step towards completing the Review of the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises. The 15-17 May OECD Working Party and CIME meetings reached agreement on the implementation procedures, text and commentary of  the Guidelines. However, a few governments lodged reservations on the text on child labour, while Mexico lodged a general reservation on the whole of the Review. Governments were then given time to make further comments, but with a strong steer from the Working Party Chair that he did not want to open up any issues of substance. In the event, the reservations on child labour were lifted at the beginning of June, leaving Mexico’s general reservation. 

    On the government side, the OECD Executive Committee in Special Session (ECSS) is holding what is expected to be a final political discussion on the Review on 7-8 June. Mexico will come under further pressure to sign up to the outcome as it stands, but may still keep its reservation open until the Ministerial meeting on 26-27 June. Having said that, and whatever its position, Mexico would find it difficult to stop other Ministers from endorsing the outcome.

    The 25-26 May TUAC Plenary Session discussed the Guidelines Review, at which the OECD Working Party Chair gave an overview on where things stood. The message from the Plenary Session to the Working Party Chair was unambiguous. Governments had to lock in the progress made, even though it did not fully meet trade union concerns, and that a line had to be drawn under the current drafts of the implementation procedures, text and commentary. Any moves, whether from governments or business to weaken the outcome would be met by a firm reaction from TUAC and its affiliates, which would risk our publicly withdrawing all support for the Review. NGOs participating in the review had indicated to the TUAC secretariat that they too would react in a similar fashion.

    The Plenary Session also agreed that were Ministers to endorse the outcome of the Review as it stands then governments had to now plan along with trade unions at the national level on how to promote the new Guidelines, and importantly how to ensure they work in practice. There was also a need for the OECD outreach work to promulgate the Guidelines among non-Member countries and their trade unions. For its part the TUAC Secretariat would, in co-operation with the ICFTU produce a users guide for trade unions world-wide on the Guidelines, and work with the ICFTU and ITS’s to promote them and to raise cases. 

    To read the TUAC note click here 

    Unions call on OECD Ministerial to push 
    for full employment,
    bring in effective rules on multinationals

    OECD Ministerial Council
    26-28 June 2000

    A high-level trade union delegation is providing an increased input to this year’s OECD Ministerial meeting. It will meet with OECD Ministers on the eve of the Ministerial Meeting on 25 June and, for the first time, will make a presentation to the full Ministerial Session meeting on 26 June.

    The labour leaders will call on the OECD meeting for further action to encourage job-creating growth. Speaking in advance of the meeting the General Secretary of the Trade Union Advisory Committee to the OECD (TUAC), John Evans said “For the first time in a generation there is an opportunity to push toward full employment in OECD countries and start to include the poor in the share of the benefits of the new economy. Central Banks and Finance Ministers must support this growth and not stifle it through restrictive policies based on unfounded fears of inflation”.

    The OECD will also be asked to adopt new Guidelines on Multinational Enterprises and take action to identify tax havens and unfair tax competition. Evans said “to be credible, the Multinational Guidelines must be given teeth; we will work with companies that respect the Guidelines to ensure their application globally, but we must be able to expose companies and countries that flout them. This debate is about governments accepting their responsibilities in setting rules for the global economy”. 

    Ministers will be given a comprehensive policy statement drawn up by TUAC which calls on governments to:-

    - Take co-ordinated measures to sustain and balance demand growth in the world economy with the objective of reducing global poverty and restoring full employment;

    - Re-regulate international financial markets and launch a widespread public debate to establish legitimacy for the reform of the financial institutions;

    - Act comprehensively through development assistance policies, debt write-off and the development of broad-based social safety nets and policies of the International Financial Institutions (IFI’s) to meet the objectives of poverty reduction in developing countries;

    - Move decisively to ensure that the global trade and investment systems reinforce the work of the ILO to guarantee core labour standards;

    - Set up transparent and effective implementation mechanisms for the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises;

    - Use the benefits of the “new economy” by encouraging a high road to the management of structural change through the improvement of education, skill and productivity levels;

    - Ensure that growth is socially and environmentally sustainable..

    To read the TUAC statement, click here 

    OECD Council agrees to continued special monitoring
    of labour rights in Korea

    The OECD Council agreed at its session on 25 May to continue special monitoring of labour rights in Korea. TUAC welcomed the OECD decision to maintain the monitoring, recalling its demand that Seoul set a clear timetable for labour law reform in Korea so that, by the end of 2001,  legislation is in place to grant all public sector workers trade union rights.  At the same time, the Korean government should honour its commitments to observe ILO Standards of Freedom of Association, and bring in the requisite changes in strike legislation to avoid recurrent waves of arrests of trade unionists each time industrial disputes occur. 

    The OECD's special monitoring procedure of  labour law reform in Korea was established in the light of the Korean government's solemn commitment at the time of its accession to the OECD in October 1996 to "reform its legislation in line with internationally accepted standards, including such basic rights as freedom of association and collective bargaining".

    To read the TUAC submission  click here

     AFL-CIO President John Sweeney 
    elected President of TUAC

    At its Plenary Session held on  25-26 May in Paris, TUAC members elected John Sweeney, President of the AFL-CIO of the United States, as President in succession to Canada's Bob White, who had indicated he was stepping down after four years as TUAC President.  Following the retirement of Willy Peirens as Vice-President of TUAC, his successor on TUAC's Administrative Committee, Luc Cortebeeck, President of  thee CSC-Belgium, was elected to the vacant position.  TUAC's two other vice-Presidents, Etsuya Washio (RENGO) and Evy Buverud Pedersen (LO-Norway) continue in office.

    There have also been two changes affecting the composition of the TUAC's Administration Committee, which prepares the decisions of the Plenary session on financial and personnel questions, affiliation questions and also procedural matters. Mikko Maenpaa, President of Finland's STTK, replaced Esa Swanljung, and the Canadian Labour Congress named Ken Georgetti to succeed Bob White. 

     TUAC Plenary supports Slovak trade union request
    to endorse Central European country's bid
    to become 30th OECD Member nation

    The TUAC Plenary Session of  25-26 May responded favourably to a request from the Slovak Confederation of Trade Unions (KOZ SR) for support for Slovakia's bid to become a member of the Paris-based OECD. Press reports forecast a positive outcome  to the Slovak application after the United States reportedly lifted its reservations as to the readiness of the country's financial and banking structures and practices.  There was speculation that Slovakia's accession as the 30th member of OECD might receive the go-ahead at the forthcoming annual OECD Ministerial meeting on June 26-27.

    MAY 2000

    Review of the OECD Guidelines
    For Multinational Enterprises
    Reaches Critical Phase

    The current Review of the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises has reached a critical phase in the run-up to the OECD Ministerial Council in June. TUAC’s objectives have been:- to establish an effective implementation mechanism in which National Contact Points have amongst other things clear instructions to help resolve cases raised and to make public recommendations; to back this up with an efficient OECD level implementation process; to reinforce the global application of the Guidelines with a clear responsibility for companies to respect human rights and to ensure their supply chains respect the Guidelines; and to have an updated and strengthened text which on employment and industrial relations includes reference to all ILO core labour standards.

    Progress has been made. The text is close to agreement although TUAC is insisting on stronger language on child labour. Most of this progress has come in the face of fierce opposition from a minority of BIAC's affiliates, who have also conducted vigorous lobbying campaign in some capitals. 

    Similarly, progress has been made on developing a workable or at least testable set of implementation procedures for National Contact Points. However, at the most recent meetings of the OECD Committees and Working Groups on 17-21 April 2000, a small number of governments succeeded in introducing changes  to the draft OECD procedures which would cloak much of the procedures in secrecy on the grounds of confidentiality. This could risk rendering them ineffective.

    The Working Party on the Review and the CIME will next meet on 15-17 May in an attempt to finalise negotiations ahead of the 26-27 June meeting of the OECD Council of Ministers that is scheduled to endorse the outcome of the Review. TUAC, BIAC and NGOs will have consultations with the Working Party on the morning of 15 May.

    A more detailed briefing note for affiliates is attached.  It summarises recent developments in the Review, and which then focuses on those key issues where further action by TUAC affiliates at the national level in the run up to these meetings is essential and could have a real effect.

    To read the TUAC note click here 

    TUAC Condemns U.S. Union Busting Activities by
    Imerys a French based Multinational

    TUAC has pledged its support to the U.S. Paper, Allied-Industrial, Chemical and Energy Workers Union (PACE) campaign to halt the union-busting activities of Imerys, a French-based multinational company, at its Georgia and Alabama plants.

    This flagrant abuse of workers’ rights by a multinational enterprise is further proof that the Review of the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, which has now entered a critical phase, must give workers and their trade unions effective redress for this type of action by rogue employers.

    Last year Imerys withdrew union recognition of PACE at its plant in Sylacauga, Alabama, after the company acquired English China Clays (ECC) and merged its Georgia Marble plant with a much larger non-union ECC plant, which stands next to the Marble facility. 

    PACE has filed several charges with the National Labour Relations Board (NLRB) alleging illegal activity by the company. In response the NLRB has issued a complaint finding merit on several of the union charges. PACE has also taken the campaign to the international level, gaining support from trade unions in France, Belgium and Britain, along with the ICEM (International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers’ Unions).

    A global campaign web-site on Imerys is now online at www.imerys-workers.org/.

    Trade unions stress the importance of continued OECD monitoring of labour rights in Korea 
    Meanwhile authorities persist in violating union rights
     with further autoworkers arrests

    A TUAC delegation met with the OECD’s Employment, Labour and Social Affairs Committee (ELSAC) on 12 April and urged the OECD to continue its special monitoring of labour rights in Korea  The TUAC presentation, which included submissions from the Korean trade union centres the FKTU  and KCTU recognised recent progress in Korea including the legalisation of teachers’ unions and the KCTU, but called on the government to take further action to bring legislation into line with ILO Standards of Freedom of Association. Of particular concern is the continued denial of trade union rights in the public sector and repeated arrests of trade unionists for “illegal” industrial action.

    No sooner had the meeting taken place than labour relations in the Korean automobile industry deterioriated sharply with renewed anti-union action by the Seoul authorities. Workers at the Daewoo Motor Company went on  strike on 25 April to protest against the arrest of 20 union leaders after police stormed the Pupyung factory. Thirteen unionists were released in the course of the day but on April 26 seven were still held.

    The TUAC has writen to the OECD denoucing the Korean authorities for the renewed arrests. Recent events show the importance ot the OECD countinuing its monitoring process and  the need to step up pressure on Seoul. TUAC has called on the Korean government to set a clear timetable for labour law reform in Korea so that by the end of 2001 legislation is in place to grant all public sector workers trade union rights and to honour its remaining commitments to observe ILO Standards of Freedom of Association. TUAC has also called on the Korean authorities to make the necessary changes in strike legislation to avoid the recurrent waves of arrests of trade unionists each time industrial disputes take place. 

    The OECD’s special monitoring procedure of labour law reform in Korea was established in the light of the Korean government’s solemn commitment at the time of its accession to the OECD, in October 1996, to “reform its legislation in line with internationally accepted standards, including such basic rights as freedom of association and collective bargaining”.

    TUAC official criticises "casino" global markets, urges need for strong OECD Multinational Enterprise Code

    Speaking at the ICFTU Congress in Durban on April 3, TUAC General Secretary John Evans warned of a growing conflict of interest between a new international elite benefitting from the "casino" of  global markets and increasing difficulties faced by ordinary working people worldwide.

    He said gigantic corporate mergers and acquisitions, often triggering explosive increases in stock prices turning their owners into billionaires, were also turning working people into the victims of change, as they suffered the full blast of  restructuring and  job losses. 

    The social costs were starkly seen in the Asian crisis, as 100 million workers and their dependants were thrust back into poverty. The message of the defeat of the OECD's proposed Multilateral Agreement on Investment in 1998 and the WTO débacle in Seattle last year was that the old agenda of trade and investment deregulation without social rules and justice could not and would not continue. 

    "TUAC has a special position as a trade union listening post in the OECD, where governments craft their policies on the global economy," Evans said.  "But we do more than listen. We also remind governments every day of the social implications of what they do, and we fight for policy changes to counterbalance liberalised global markets through a system of global governance and a system of social rules".  Of special current concern were the importance of efforts to build a new world financial architecture, the continuing need to counter threats to the rights of Korean workers, and, more widely, the need for unions to exert pressure on governments to adopt effective revised OECD Guidelines on Multinationals.

    "At the end of the 19th century, the industrialisation of many of our societies led to the transformation of diverse workers' organisations into national trade union movements.  Today, at the beginning of the 21st century, globalisation is creating the conditions which require an equally dramatic leap forward in building the international trade union movement,"  Evans said.  TUAC would be a "firm and active partner" of the ICFTU in building the new global trade union network. 

    Trade Union input to OECD Business and Industry Forum on structural factors driving industrial growth

    The current pace of change in industry, notably through Information and Communications Technology (ICT) innovation, raises a whole new set of structural policy challenges of crucial importance to trade unions and their members. These issues were addressed on behalf of TUAC by David Coats, head of the British TUC's economic and social affairs department, speaking on February 29 at an OECD business and industry forum on "Structural factors driving industrial growth". 

    Rejecting the idea that there was now a new paradigm associating high employment, high growth and low inflation,  Coats said the business cycle had not disappeared in the modern economy, nor had unemployment and inflation.  All too often flexible labour markets and easy access to capital were seen as the only prescription needed to ensure  growth.  In fact, workers had more anxiety than ever before and wanted employment security. The big question remained how to reconcile that goal with the imperatives of flexibility and change.  In particular, "hire and fire strategies driven by the demands of institutional shareholders to maximise shareholder value appear ill-suited to a knowledge-driven economy," he said.  "Workers believe with some justification that their employers are seeking twice the output with half the people in half the time."

    The challenge was to manage change so that it was not seen as a threat. Flexibility needed to be reconciled with security, with workers being given a stake in the organisations that employed them.  Greater training and skills development, involving essential union participation, were also indispensable elements, along with good corporate governance practice.  In this way, it was possible to build up a positive association between strong trade unions and the deployment of  "high commitment" management practices to develop the knowledge-driven economy now making an ever-growing impact in sectors like e-business. 

    APRIL 2000

    TUAC Trade Unions Meet
    with OECD Environment Ministries

    Trade Unions at the OECD in Paris met with Environment Ministries of the most industrialised countries this week (i.e. 04 April, 2000) to emphasise how to implement the social dimensions of sustainable development, including for issues related to poverty, health and employment. OECD Environment Ministers were assembled to develop a strategy for implementing sustainable development up to the year 2020. An OECD plan is to be finalised in time for the special RIO+10 meeting of the UN General Assembly, scheduled in 2002. 

    The TUAC submitted a background paper covering a range of issue of concern to workers and trade unions, including for employment, health & safety, worker rights and participation, workplace actions for change, voluntary agreements, transition programs, climate change and biotechnology.

    Representative for TUAC Mr. Reg Green of ICEM (International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers' Unions) spoke in general support of some of the OECD draft papers which sought the integration of social and environmental concerns. "A major aspect of the social/environment nexus is the relationship between workplace activities and community well-being", he said, and that "the ascendancy of the free market over state planning has obliged companies to pay much greater attention to their social and environmental responsibilities". 

    He said that the pressure was growing for companies to ensure that their behaviour and actions are transparent, effective, credible and inclusive. "It makes a great deal of sense for companies to ensure that workers and their representatives are as fully involved and supportive", he emphasised, adding that successful voluntary industry initiatives and agreements are those which seek to bring into harmony the social, environmental and
    economic goals and involve fully the relevant stakeholders.

    Green made suggestions for focussing on micro-level impacts of environmental disruptions and of programs to mitigate them, as a way of fully understanding the social implications of change. His suggestion to make climate change a focal point for analysis of the social and economic impacts was supported by members at the meeting.

    Green also emphasised that "we need some demonstrable successes in attempting to link social and environmental considerations and the OECD should support initiatives which seek to ensure that the social and environmental aspects of economic activity are integrated and to produce case examples for the next meeting of OECD Ministers, scheduled next November in Paris.

    To read the TUAC paper  click here

    TUAC pays tribute to Charles Ford

    Charles Ford, former Assistant Secretary and then General Secretary of TUAC from 1965-71 died on Saturday 11 March, aged 76.

    Charles Ford was committed to raising the living and working standards of working people everywhere. In this he was a committed internationalist. While at TUAC he served also as Secretary and later General Secretary of the European Regional Organisation of the ICFTU and Secretary in charge of its Paris Office. In 1971, he went onto become the General Secretary of the organisation that later became the International Textile, Garment and Leather Workers’ Federation, until his retirement in 1988. In his early life he also worked for the Czechoslovak government in exile.

    Charles Ford played a key part in the transformation of the then trade union Liaison Office to the Marshall Plan, to the TUAC in 1962. As part of that he helped move the direction of TUAC’s work from promoting a trade union vision of the post-war reconstruction process to managing economies in an era of Keynesian demand management policies and full employment.

    His energies at the ITGLWF led to a doubling of its membership, while his vision was evidenced by pioneering work to promote the enforcement of mechanisms to include core ILO labour standards in all trade agreements.

    Please pass messages of condolences onto Neil Kearney, General Secretary, ITGLWF, Rue Joseph Stevens 8, (Bte 4), B-1000 Brussels.

    Increased government engagement
     on the Review of the OECD Guidelines
    for Multinational Enterprises

     Delegations from TUAC, BIAC and NGOs met with the full OECD Committee on International Investment and Multinational Enterprises on 20-21 February.  The discussions focused on key elements of the Review of the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises.  For the first time since the beginning of the Review, some governments were more willing to enter into substantive  discussions on strengthened text and implementation procedures.  The Chair of the OECD Working Party on the Review appeared to back this up in a later press briefing when he talked of the new political will among governments to make the Guidelines, especially the implementation procedures, work better. 

     A small TUAC delegation, along with representatives of BIAC and NGOs will have further informal discussions at the Hague, Netherlands, with the Chair of the Review, and selected other governments on 20-22 March 2000. 

     First agreed in 1976, the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises have been since 1998 the subject of consultations aimed at reaching agreement on an updated version.  The current series of discussions  involves 32 governments (the 29 OECD members, plus Argentina, Brazil and Chile) in addition to TUAC and BIAC and a number of NGO's. 

    To read the TUAC report  click here 

    TUAC at OECD GM Food Safety Conference

      A TUAC trade union delegation at the OECD's recent "Food Safety" conference on GMO's (Genetically Modified Organisms), held in Edinburgh, UK, argued for a stronger focus on the health and safety implications for workers.  Delegation leader Bjorn Erikson, LO Norway, said: "There has hardly been any study or investigation concerning workers' health and safety, in connection with GM food products or organisms."  He emphasised that very little was known about workers' health in connection with the production or distribution of GMO's.

     Sue Ferns, of the UK based IPMS (Institution of Professionals, Managers and Specialists) stressed that "higher levels of core funding for independent research by public sector scientists" should also be a priority.  Research funding must be matched, she said, "by a more consistent and rigorous approach to the use of scientific advice in policy-making by governments".

     TUAC has proposed a plan of action to address concerns over biotechnology and GMO's, and has called for the OECD to address the demand for:

      ° consumer information and protection
      ° a strong regulatory framework
      ° reliable research and science-based decision-making
      ° reliance on the 'precautionary principle'
      ° involvement of stakeholders, and
      ° workplace solutions for health and safety.

     TUAC is also concerned that the possible social impacts of new biotechnology have been completely sidelined by the rush to promote GMO's, as an answer to a food shortage problem that is not properly understood.  TUAC fears that GMO's may create more poverty than they purport to resolve. 

    MARCH 2000

    Voluntary initiatives and agreements 
    can play a role 
    in promoting sustainable development

     The OECD has recently published "Voluntary Approaches for Environmental Policy: an Assessment", which draws some preliminary conclusions about the effectiveness of attempts to provide pragmatic responses to new policy problems

    TUAC's Lucien Royer, who represents trade unions on the steering committee of the United Nations' Committee for Sustainable Development (CSD), says that the OECD study "paves the way for a sharper focus on the types of VA's that show signs of success".   Many business-initiated VA's among the thousands now in existence, he warns, in fact offer little in the way of reliable mechanisms to evaluate what they are supposed to do, "but all VA's must not be painted with that brush".  VA's negotiated between a number of parties "are the best of all, and those that are in some way connected to or set up to strengthen government regulation or policy are among the few to show measurable success". 
    The public must beware of VA's that may merely be "public relations exercises in disguise".  Rather  clear monitoring and trustworthy verification, alongside  reporting and public accountability is needed.

    France's Force Ouvriere holds Congress in Marseille

     TUAC General Secretary John Evans was a guest speaker at the Force Ouvrière congress held in Marseilles on 6th March 2000.  Invited to address the topic of "The trade union response to globalisation", he told the 1000 delegates at the conference that trade unions should not bemoan changes or react defensively to the globalisation phenomenon.  The right action was to respond and manage the changes.

     But he cautioned: "To fulfill the legitimate aspirations of consumers, employees, investors, markets require effective governance, whether or not they are organised on a national, regional, or global scale."   Against a background of globalisation it was the forms of governance that needed to change not the principle itself.  "But unions themselves are also changing -- reaching out to new groups of workers, using new sources of influence, such as their control over pension funds and developing through the international trade secretariats their studies for dealing with multinational enterprises.  The challenge," he concluded, "is to shape the global debate on globalisation, and to show that the unions are a key part of the solution to re-linking economic development and social progress."

    Click here for full text 

    Devolution and Globalisation: 
     Implications for local decision-makers

    (LEED Conference, Glasgow 28-29 Feb 2000)

     TUAC took part in an international conference on "Devolution and Globalisation: implications for local decision-makers", held in Glasgow on February 28-29, and organised by the Local Economic and Employment (LEED) Programme of the OECD, in partnership with Scottish Enterprise and the Glasgow Development Agency.   The meeting brought together more than 100  development agency officials and other experts from different OECD cities and regions to debate the opportunities created by the need to deliver economic development policies within a devolved framework in a globalising economy. 

     The conference looked first at the implications of devolution and globalisation for economic development policy in OECD cities and regions, before reviewing recent institutional innovations and new policy tools.   With a strong in situ interest to conference delegates of the Glasgow experience, notably the challenging redevelopment of the city's Gorbals district, the meeting ended with a session devoted to lessons for the future, including a round table discussion of different approaches outlined by a number of OECD city mayors and regional ministers. A key feature of the second day was the launching of the OECD Forum of Cities and Regions. 

    Belfast urban renaissance report published by OECD

     In a related development to the Glasgow conference (reported above), the OECD has just published "Urban Renaissance:  Belfast's lessons for policy and partnership". Drawing largely on international presentations and discussions at a conference held in Belfast last year, the OECD report focuses on regeneration projects carried out by the Laganside Corporation in the city.  TUAC shared in the organisation of the seminar.  The introduction to the OECD report emphasises "Trade unions understand the interconnectedness between social conditons and economic growth, and can contribute advice, but also concrete efforts such as job training and the targeted use of their pension funds, to promote growth."

     The report "Urban Renaissance: Belfast's lessons for policy and partnership" is available from OECD sales agents. 

    Labour Leaders at Davos World Economic Forum
    call for a new social alliance 
    and for a fresh start for globalisation

    Trade union leaders participating in the annual World Economic Forum in Davos at the end of January urged governments and business to join them in developing a new social alliance that would contribute to making the world trading system sustainable, tackle the concerns of developing countries, and assist workers to both adapt to globalisation and help to shape it. 

    A six-point programme intended to give globalisation a social dimension, seen as the key new element, covered the following main points:

     -  Full respect for fundamental labour standards in all countries, essential if trade is to create better working conditions for the world's working people;

     -  Real social strategy for the new global economy, emphasising social protection in individual countries;

     -  Greatly increased financial commitment by industrialised countries to development programmes built around gender issues;

     -  Targetting of aid on social programmes, with determined effort to wipe out poverty, reduce developing country debt, and support democratic institutions;

     -  Employment given the central role in economic and social policy-making;

     -  Development of good global industrial relations, emphasising social partnership. 

    TUAC input to OECD Labour Ministers' Conference
    on youth employment, London, 8-9 February

     As a participant in an OECD Labour Ministers' conference devoted to youth employment issues, TUAC emphasised(speech) that young people entering working life today in most OECD countries faced unacceptable employment problems.  With the under-25's hit by unemployment rates of twice the adult average, many young people were in effect the victims of a "split society".  Those with high educational attainments found exciting job opportunities, while those with low attainments and from marginalised backgrounds -- such as workless homes, environments marked by high crime and suicide rates for instance -- often faced at best long periods of unemployment, interspersed with low-skill, dead-end jobs, or the far worse perspectives of crime and prison.

     The solutions to the youth unemployment problem lay partly in the realm of the labour market, partly in that of economic policies.  It was important that the main partners concerned  -- employers, unions, governments and young people themselves -- should seek solutions in partnership schemes such as the apprenticeship systems so successful in Germany.  Unions have a role as educators, empowering young people to change their destiny while at the same time binding together the social fabric of OECD countries at a time when the forces of globalisation and technological change threaten to pull it apart.

    To read the TUAC presentation click here 

    FEBRUARY 2000

    Further consultations on OECD Guidelines
    for Multinational Enterprises
    set for 17-18 February at OECD 

    The next round of informal consultations with the OECD working group on the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises is to be held at OECD on 17-18 February. The two-day meeting at the Chateau de la Muette will discuss the latest draft of the OECD guidelines, which were revised in December 1999 (see OECD website: www.oecd.org/daf/investment/guidelines/newtext.htm).

    TUAC's concern is to ensure that the revised text has an effective implementation mechanism.

    To read the TUAC comments click here 

    Trade Unions join debate on the "New Economy"

    A TUAC delegation joins the debate on the new digitised, knowledge based economy in taking part in a high-level Business and Industry Policy Forum on "Structural factors driving industrial growth" organised by the OECD on February 29 in Paris. During the Forum, particular attention will be given to the impact that advances in information and communication technology are having on industry performance in different countries. Questions and issues to be addressed will include:

    a) What are the principal structural changes occurring at the firm and sector level and what are the main factors driving these changes?

    b) How are the structural changes that are occurring in industry affecting overall industrial and economic performance?

    c) For policymakers, what factors are important in understanding why industry performance has differed significantly among OECD countries?

    TUAC's contributions to the Forum will focus on the wide-ranging effects on firms of high performance work systems and practices (HPWPs). Research findings send a powerful message to both  management and policymakers: There is virtually no evidence indicating that a firm is likely to suffer by adopting well-planned sets of HPWPs and employment practices. 

    Moreover, both a TUAC background paper and by speakers will point out that policies to promote widespread use of information technology cannot and should not be limited to the economic integration of technological change. To provide the prerequisites for a successful endogenous process of technological and social change, negotiated and mediated both within companies and at the level of society at large, all aspects of a broader social integration of technological change must be included. Ongoing OECD work, aimed at the identification of driving factors of growth and productivity, should recognise these factors and develop policy guidelines that take them into account.

    JANUARY 2000

    Labour Leaders
    at the World Economic Forum in Davos: 

    A fresh start for Globalisation
    A new social alliance needed

    Trade union leaders participating at the World Economic Forum in Davos will urge governments and business to join with them in developing a new social alliance to make the trading system sustainable, to tackle the concerns of developing countries' and to protect workers everywhere during globalisation. 

    The labour leaders will present a six-point programme to give globalisation a social dimension - the key element for a fresh start. 

    - There must be full respect of fundamental labour standards in all countries if trade is to create better conditions for the world’s working people.
    - There must be a social strategy for the new global economy, with a strong emphasis on social protection systems within individual countries.
    - There should be a greatly increased financial commitment by industrialised countries to development programmes in which gender issues are of principal consideration.
    - Aid should be targeted at social programmes, and there should be a determined campaign to wipe out poverty, reduce developing country debt and support democratic institutions.
    - Employment must be given a central role in the preparation of economic and social policy.
    - There is a need to develop good global industrial relations, which would include social partnership on general issues as well as addressing concerns from both sides of industry to resolve problems which arise inside global firms and sectors.
    To read more click here 

     TUAC Plenary welcomes recognition of KCTU Union
    in Korea but calls for more progress on
    freedom of association

    At its Plenary Session of December 9-10 TUAC welcomed the long-awaited official recognition on 23 November by the Korean authorities of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU).  Established in 1995, the KCTU has thus now joined the Federation of Korean Trade Unions (FKTU) as the second legally recognised Korean trade union centre affiliated to TUAC and the ICFTU.

    TUAC members were appalled at the violence used by the Korean authorities in dispersing trade unionists involved in sit-in demonstrations on December 7, and the subsequent arrests of some 20 representatives.  The international trade union movement has called for the release of those arrested, which has subsequently happened.

    TUAC also expressed support for the FKTU's current struggle to amend Korean labour law and bring it into line with ILO Principles of Freedom of Association.  In particular it called for amendment of the law banning payment of salaries by employers to union representatives. ILO rulings in the past have made clear that this should be an issue for negotiation between the social partners and not a question of legal regulation. 

    TUAC will continue to support the actions of the FKTU and KCTU in their campaign, and work with the whole Korean trade union  movement to secure full freedom of association for Korean workers.

    To read Korean trade union comment, click here 

    Lack of consensus in Seattle could spur search 
    for  more responsive and responsible global economy

    The collapse of the Trade Ministers' meeting in Seattle was largely the consequence of the growing imbalance in globalisation, according to an assessment by the international trade union movement .The failure at Seattle could however spur the beginning of a search for a new approach to globalisation. 

    The unions' view that one of the most striking areas of imbalance is the link between trade and core labour standards was clearly brought out in discussions in and around the Ministerial, showing that it is very much on the agenda for future debate.  The international trade union campaign on labour standards, involving  the ICFTU, TUAC and ITS's has generated significant public support in both developed and developing countries. 

    Globalisation has dramatically drawn attention to the need to guarantee workers' rights on a worldwide basis. These and related issues were among the themes raised at the TUAC-OECD liaison committee consultations in Paris on December 10, given OECD's potential role in promoting and developing a social dimension to the world economy.  Such questions can even arise in OECD Members such as Korea where, despite some progress (see above), trade union officials continue to be imprisoned. 

    TUAC also emphasised the importance of food safety issues, and the urgent need to relaunch  the work on governance of the global economy by including it in the long-awaited Review of the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises.

    To read the background document, click here 

     Trade unions in OECD biotechnology
    and GMO consultations 

    Despite the very short notice given ahead of the meeting, a six-member TUAC trade union delegation was able to take part in an OECD consultation on biotechnology and food safety issues, held at OECD headquarters in Paris on Saturday, 20th November. Details of the TUAC contribution are given in the summary below, and follow-up meetings are planned for early   in the New Year.

    To read the summary, click here 

    Review of the
    OECD Guidelines for Multinationals
    Set to Move up a Gear

    Work on the Review of the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises moves up a gear following  the  OECD Working Party meeting on 6-7 December. Governments considered a compendium of draft textual amendments proposed on the basis of previous discussions. These are improvements on previous texts and include welcome changes to the Chapter on Employment and Industrial relations. A completely new Chapter on Bribery and Corruption is envisaged that could offer some protection for  “whistleblowers”. The compendium will  be made available in January on the OECD web site: http://oecd.org/daf/cmis/cime/mneguide.htm

    Government attention will then move to the implementation procedures where promising developments have occurred around the proposed conciliation process. Furthermore, some governments are known to support the setting up of an OECD level ‘experts group’ along the lines proposed by TUAC. That would have the right to pronounce its views on the activities of multinational enterprises as they relate to the Guidelines, and to make problem-solving recommendations, were the conciliation process to fail.

    Agreement on both textual amendments and the implementation procedures could be built on and lead to the revised Guidelines becoming an important and effective instrument of governance for the global economy. However, much more still remains to be done in these areas if the Guidelines are to recover their lost credibility. 

    The work still needed is mapped out in a TUAC briefing note (click here)  for affiliates on the Review. Part one discusses trade union experiences with the Guidelines. Part two takes stock of the current Review and indicates where pressure from affiliates could best yield results. We have also produced a Submission (click here)  to the OECD that summarises these points.


    For Central & Eastern Europe (CEE) and the Newly Independent States (NIS) 
    ICFTU / TUAC / ETUC   Pilot Enterprise Assessment Project

    TUAC, along with worldwide and European trade union bodies, has launched a proposal to involve nearly 70,000 trade union members in promoting cleaner production practices within six large enterprises of Central & Eastern Europe and Russia. "We wish to help implement objectives of the OECD Task Force on Cleaner Production" says TUAC General Secretary John Evans, and "we hope to foster a culture of cooperation between employers and trade unions of the region in jointly implementing change for the longer term". Evans says that discussions are currently taking place with employers of steel, chemical and petrochemical plants in Bulgaria, Poland, Romania, Russia and the Ukraine. Trade unions and employers would perform joint enterprise assessments to improve the health, safety and environment situation. TUAC is currently inviting feedback to a recently issued written proposal, outlining how the project would be undertaken and the funding that would be required. Copies are available at TUAC, contact Lucien Royer at the Secretariat.. 


    After Seattle :  building the social dimension 
    of the global economy

    For trade unionists, the Seattle World Trade Organisation Ministerial meeting cannot be viewed like any other trade meeting.  It is not just a debate about tariff reductions or liberalisation of trade in agriculture and services.  It has to achieve the much more fundamental goal of restoring public confidence in the global trading system.  The debate about Seattle and the WTO has become a debate about globalisation.

    For many people, if trade liberalisation is to continue then it must be made coherent with wider concerns such as environmental protection and sustainable development, food and product safety and the observance of fundamental labour rights.   Progress on the former is linked to progresss on the latter.  In fact, globalisation has dramatically drawn attention to the need to guarantee core workers' rights on a global basis, which -- contrary to what some would have the world believe -- is not at all a "new issue".  Those unsure of this need only refer to the International Labour Conference's adoption in June 1998 of the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work.  It is clear that there must be consistency between WTO rules and the ILO Declaration.

    These and related issues will be among the themes raised at the TUAC-OECD liaison committee consultations on December 10, given OECD's potential role in promoting and developing a social dimension to the world economy.  This can concern OECD members also, such as Korea where -- despite some progress (see above) --  trade union officials nonetheless continue to be imprisoned. 

    Other subjects of clear interest for OECD include the related areas of trade, employment and labour standards which could be developed, notably by holding  consultations with non-member countries;  food safety issues; and, importantly, urgent relaunching of the work on governance of the global economy by including it in the context of  the long-awaited Review of the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises.

    To read the background document click here 

    NOVEMBER  1999

    TUAC representatives and NGO's raise pre-Seattle international trade concerns
    at OECD Trade Committee Session

    Paris, 20 October 1999

    TUAC, ICFTU and AFL-CIO raised issues related to continuing public concerns about globalisation and questions relevant to trade and investment likely to be part of future trade round discussions at a special meeting of the OECD Trade Committee. Along with representatives of Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO's), TUAC officials  stressed that new trade rules likely to emerge from the future new trade round to follow the World Trade Organisation (WTO) ministerial meeting in Seattle in November needed to incorporate specific provisions. These included stronger rules regarding the environment, development, labour rights as well as food security. 

    TUAC emphasised the importance of creating a permanent working group at the WTO to work on the links between trade and core labour standards. First presented in Singapore in 1996, these proposal are now supported by the United States and the European Union. They are bound to feature large in the Seattle debates and in the minds of the thousands of demonstrators who will be protesting outside the WTO meeting. 

    To read the ICFTU statement on the pre-Seattle situation, click here 

    AFL-CIO Convention debates globalisation

    Los Angeles, 11-13 October 1999

    TUAC officials were among the overseas trade union delegates who attended the AFL-CIO Convention in Los Angeles on 11 to 13 October. The focus of the Convention was the new organising  drive by American unions. Others key subjects debated included globalisation, with particular reference to trade, international finance and labour standards. Despite much concern at the job insecurity created by globalisation, the final resolution clearly positioned the AFL-CIO as an advocate of new rules for internationalism, i.e. embracing an open world economy but with  stronger rules to advance social and environmental concerns. 

    This theme figured in the discussion and eventual decision to endorse the candidature of Vice-President Al Gore for a major Democratic Party drive to win control of the US Congress as well as to retain the Presidency. President John Sweeney introduced Al Gore as a leading defender of workers' freedom to join a union. Gore told the Convention "I will fight for the values that we share around the world". If elected, he said he would "insist on and use the authority to enforce worker rights, human rights and environmental protections in (new trade) agreements". 

    Japan's unions debate globalisation

    Tokyo, 13 October

    Prior to its congress on 14-15 October, the Japanese Trade Union Confederation, RENGO organised a seminar on the trade union response to globalisation. The panel speakers included TUAC President Bob White, and General Secretary John Evans. 

    To read the latter's contribution, click here 

    TUAC presses Korea for further action 
    on trade union rights

    TUAC General Secretary John Evans was in Korea for meetings with Korean officials and FKTU and KCTU  unions at the beginning of October. In discussions with the Chair of the Tripartite Commission and other officials, he pressed for further action to free imprisoned trade unionists, to legalise the KCTU and bring Korean law into line with International Labour Office (ILO) standards of freedom of association. 

    At the invitation of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation and FKTU and KCTU, he gave a lecture at a trade union seminar in Seoul on the trade union response to globalisation in OECD countries. 

    To read the text of the lecture, click here 

     Review of the 
    OECD Guidelines for Multinationals

    The Working Party set up by the OECD Committee on International Investment and Multinational Enterprises (CIME)  to work on the review of the Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises next meets on 2-5 November to discuss a series of proposals to improve the implementation procedures and textual revisions to the Guidelines. 

    A number of new initiatives have been proposed to reform the implementation procedure, including a new conciliation  process. This new avenue look promising, especially if backed up by a revised mechanism  to contest the worst abuses of labour rights. The textual revisions being proposed are improvements on past drafts, especially those to the chapter on Employment and Industrial Relations and Information Disclosure. A completely new chapter on Corruption is envisaged that includes a proposal to protect "whistle blowers". 

    A more detailed TUAC update on the Guidelines Review will follow the 2-5 November OECD Working Party Meeting. 

    Transition from Initial Education to Working Life
     Joint OECD-TUAC-BIAC Seminar

    A successful transition from initial education to work is considered a key stage in laying the basis for both employment and continuous learning throughout adult life. Issues related to the transition from initial education to work, in particular conclusions emerging from recent experience in a number of OECD countries, will be the focus of discussion at a joint one-day seminar to be held by the OECD Education Committee in close co-operation with both TUAC and the Business and Industry Advisory Committee  (BIAC). The seminar will be held on 18 November 1999. 

    An input is provided by the OECD report on Transition from Initial Education to Working Life, based on a comparative review of 14 countries. The objective of the seminar is to draw lessons from successful policy experience as well as from remaining challenges identified during the review. The discussion will focus in particular on the following issues: 

     - Building safety nets for those at risk; 
     - Developing links between work and learning; 
     - New skill demands and transition policies; 
     - Strengthening lifelong learning through transition policies and programmes. 
    Trade union participation in the seminar will be co-ordinated through TUAC. 

    OCTOBER 1999

    OECD Consultations on the New Trade Round

    TUAC will join  business representatives and NGO in consultations on 20 October with the OECD Trade Committee on preparation for the New Trade Round likely to be agreed at the Seattle World Trade Organisation (WTO) Ministerial Meeting at the end of November. In a campaign coordinated by the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) , trade unions have been pressing for the protection of the International Labour Office (ILO) core labour standards to be accepted by the WTO. 

    In a letter to the Financial Times published on September 3, the general secretaries of four major international union organisations warned that the real challenge facing WTO negotiators this autumn in Seattle was "nothing less than to restore the confidence of working people and their families throughout the world that the global trade and investment system does work in their interest". 

    Officials of the International Condederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU), the World Confederation of Labour (WCL), the Trade Union Advisory Committee to the OECD (TUAC) and the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) sent the combined letter after the newspaper published a call by international business leaders for a new "trade and investment liberalisation package" to be launched in Seattle.  Warning that "public concern is at an unprecedented level regarding the impact of the trading system on serious issues such as genetically-modified crops, the destruction of the environment, child labour, workers' rights abuses, growing job insecurity and widening inequality", the trade unionists' letter stresses that the Seattle negotiations must "incorporate effective rules to govern the trading system's impact on labour rights and the environment".

    To read the full text of the letter click here.

    TUAC  hosting "public voice" Conference 
    on the Internet and E-Commerce

    In conjunction with an OECD Forum on electronic commerce, TUAC is to hosting a "public voice" conference in Paris in mid  October.  Intended as an opportunity to pursue the debate between trade unions and non-governmental organisations (NGO's) on social and legal issues related to electronic commerce, the meeting is focusing on concepts and methods to ensure that workers' and consumers' interests are taken into account in the transition to the information society.  This follows up on the OECD conference on E-commerce held in Ottawa in October 1998. 
    A full report will be available on this web-site in November. 

    To see the programme of the OECD Conference, click here 



    International Trade Unions urge OECD Committee visiting Seoul to increase pressure on Korean Government to honour pledge to establish normal labour
    rights and practices

    TUAC has urged an OECD Committee delegation visiting Seoul later this month to put increased pressure on the Korean Government to relinquish its current practice of cracking down on trade unions, and to move forward the agenda on establishing freedom of association, as the authorities have pledged earlier. TUAC is particularly concerned at the continuing imprisonment of union members and the apparent crackdown of the Seoul Government on the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU). 

    The KCTU is the second main trade union confederation alongside the already officially-recognised Federation of Korean Trade Unions (FKTU): both are affiliated to TUAC. The KCTU has announced that more than 100 of its members, including KCTU General Secretary Koh Young-Joo, are still under arrest. Many were hold in connection with labour disputes in July and August. 

    A delegation from the OECD's Employment, Labour and Social Affairs Committee (ELSAC) has visited Korea in September. A TUAC briefing note on industrial relations in Korea also calls on the ELSAC to undertake urgently a broad-based labour market review on the Republic of Korea.

    To read the briefing note click here. 


    International Trade Unions call for
    action from the G7 to stem the risk of recession
    and establish an international Commission 
    on financial markets

    The Asian and now Russian financial meltdowns have pushed a third of the world economy into recession. Those who have borne the brunt are working people and their families. In Asia living standards have collapsed and unemployment has surged; in Russia one quarter of the labour force has not been paid for six months. Spreading bankruptcies are now leading to more widespread destitution. The crisis risks spreading to Latin America. The European Union and United States have yet to feel the bite of recession, but the global economy is inter-linked and falling trade and dangerously volatile stock markets threaten to trigger a truly global recession with devastating impact on employment unless urgent corrective measures are taken. 

    The international trade union movement presented proposals for action to the G7 Birmingham Summit in May, but the industrialised countries have failed so far to show the leadership needed to prevent recession and make sure that the global financial system is reformed to support growing and widely shared prosperity. The G7 must now assume their responsibilities and act decisively in three areas.

    First, G7 Central Banks and Finance Ministers must implement a co-ordinated strategy to support balanced demand and restore global growth and job creation. This must include targeted reductions in interest rates in Europe and North America and an OECD-wide fiscal policy geared to recovery. 

    Secondly, they must act on the trade union proposal to the Birmingham Summit to establish an International Commission, along the lines of the Brundtland Commission, with a broad mandate to consult and advise on a new financial architecture to bring orderly governance to international capital markets. The past piecemeal initiatives to strengthen financial markets’ prudential controls have been shown to be grossly inadequate. A new assessment must include a future role for an international tax on foreign exchange transactions, appropriate use of exchange controls, and a stable set of parities between the Euro, Yen and Dollar. 

    Thirdly, the debacles in Asia and Russia have shown the need to reform the structural adjustment policies of the international financial institutions as called for by the 1995 UN Copenhagen Summit for Social Development. The Institutions must urgently promote a socially responsible market system that includes good governance and respect for human rights, increased employment and poverty reduction, and avoids austerity and mindless deregulation. 

    To read the detailed trade union proposals as presented to the G7 Birmingham summit click here 


    Trade unions to advise OECD on the development of Guidelines  on Corporate Governance 

    The OECD has convened a ad-hoc multi-stakeholder Task Force to develop a set of international standards and guidelines covering key aspects relating to corporate governance. This initiative was agreed at the April 1998 meeting of the OECD Council of Ministers. 

    The Task Force itself will comprise representatives of OECD governments, trade unions, business, and relevant international organisations working in this area. Fritz Verzetnisch, President of the Federation of Austrian Trade Unions, and Ron Blackwell, Director of the AFL-CIO Corporate affairs Department will participate on behalf of the TUAC. 

    The Task Force which will meet several times in Paris from July 1998 onwards shall seek to reach a consensus on a set of draft international standards and guidelines covering the following corporate governance related themes: ownership and control issues; the equitable treatment of shareholders; transparency and disclosure issues; the role of boards of directors; and stakeholder interests and societal concerns. These will then be presented to the Spring 1999 meeting of the OECD Council of Ministers for adoption. 

    This work will be a priority issue for TUAC in the coming months. Though voluntary, the OECD expects that the standards and guidelines will serve as a reference point for national work, and will be applied by OECD and non-OECD governments alike. It is important, therefore, that trade unions seek to ensure that this project does not become a vehicle to promote the Anglo Saxon model of corporate governance based on “shareholder values”, ahead of the continental European “stakeholder” approach. 

    As part of this, TUAC will bring together a group of trade union experts working on corporate governance issues to present their views to the October 1998 Task Force meeting. This meeting will be held jointly with management experts within the framework of the OECD Labour/management Programme. 

    Further information on that meeting plus the work and membership of the Task Force can be obtained from the TUAC office. 

     Change in TUAC E-mail addresses

    Please note that from july, the TUAC e-mail address changes from tuac@oecd.org to
    and that TUAC staff are also contactable at the following individual addresses:

       Pierre Benielli:  benielli@tuac.org 
       John Evans: evans@tuac.org 
       Roy Jones:  jones@tuac.org 
       Brigitte Pomel:  pomel@tuac.org 
       Lucien Royer:  royer@tuac.org 
       Roland Schneider:  schneider@tuac.org 
       Michelle Vedel: vedel@tuac.org 

    For the time being mail sent to our former address will be automatically forwarded.

    Provisional Calendar of TUAC and related 
    OECD meetings
    September - December 1998

    (As of 15 July 1998)

    A provisional calendar of TUAC and related OECD meetings for September - December 1998  has been prepared. 

    To see the calendar, click yere. 

    OECD Social Policy Meeting:
    Ministers review spending programmes
    Unions call for a new initiative to halt growing
    insecurity and social exclusion

    Trade unions from the industrialised countries called on governments to take a new initiative on social policy at the OECD Social Ministers’ meeting held in Paris on 23-24 June 1998

    The main message of the TUAC Statement presented to Ministers was that globalisation, demographic change, mass unemployment, increasing economic insecurity, and changing family structures all pointed to the need for a new agenda for social policy. But the privatisation of social security systems would be a disaster - worsening inequality and increasing insecurity. Rather governments needed to play a central role ensuring good public systems and integrating social concerns into all aspects of policy. 

     The Ministerial meeting emphasised the role of social policy and showed scepticism concerning the claims of those who advocated radical privatisation. However the need remains to raise the profile of social issues in the OECD and combat the growth of social exclusion and deprivation in OECD countries. Governments rather seemed more comfortable with treating social policy as essentially a question of the effectiveness of spending programmes in achieving specified objectives. 

    Part of the debate was focused on the impact of the ageing of OECD societies on pension schemes, following the publication of the OECD report “Maintaining Prosperity in an Ageing Society” at the time of the OECD Finance Ministers meeting in April. The TUAC delegation meeting the Ministers recognised the need to modernise and reform pension schemes but insisted that this could not be based on the lowering of benefits. They also warned against an over-reliance on private or capital market schemes against the background of the Asian financial market crisis, in which many pension funds had lost money. Rather there was a need to protect and improve public pensions as an important part of multi-pillar systems. 

    To read the TUAC evaluation click here 

    Korean arrests: World  Unions call on Government
    to abide by International Law and resume dialogue

    The Korean government risks reverting to the practices of its predecessors by violating international labour norms in its hounding and arrests of trade union leaders say international trade union organisations. They are calling on the government to act in accordance with internatioal labour standards, in particular ILO Convention 87 on Freedom of Association, and to resume dialogue and negotiations with the unions on reforms for economic recovery. 

    The International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) and the Trade Union Advisory Committee to the OECD (TUAC) have received information from their affiliates in Korea that the government has issued arrest warrants for at least 45 leading trade unionists, including leaders of the Korean Metal Workers' Federation (KMWF). So far, three trade union leaders have been arrested: Jung Yoon-sub, Kung Chong-man and Lee Kyang-keun. The police sent 400 men with cars, fire engines and tractors to the KMWF Headquarters to arrest its President Dan Byong-ho. However, he avoided arrest, and is now in sanctuary in Myongdong Cathedral.

    The apparent government crackdown is a response to the KMWF strike launched on July 14, which followed a union rally on Sunday, July 12 called by the two leading Korean trade unions, the Federation of Korean Trade Unions (FKTU) and the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU). Worker unrest is growing in the face of government inability to implement reforms for economic recovery, as agreed by the Tripartite Commission. 

    Workers have been hit hard by the deterioration of working and living standards, brought about by the financial crisis and subsequent austerity programmes. Unemployment has tripled since the end of 1997. In particular the unions are protesting at the way in which restructuring has been carried out in the financial sector without union agreement and without adequate social protection for those made redundant, and at unfair labour practices by employers. 

    The ICFTU, TUAC, and APRO (the ICFTU's regional organisation in Singapore) have protested to the Korean President about the danger of returning to authoritarian methods of the past and the continued existence and use of labour legislation which violates freedom of association of trade unionists, for taking legitimate trade union action. The government action is very detrimental to the promotion of healthy and sound industrial relations practice say the trade union organisations. They are monitoring the situation, and will be taking follow-up action if necessary. 

    In addition, the union organisations are writing to the Korean government urging them to resume the Tripartite Commission in good faith, and to ensure full respect of the ILO Convention on Freedom of Association. The unions stress that dialogue, nor conflict with civil society, including unions, is the only constructive way forward. The ICFTU is also calling on its affiliates in 141 countries to protest to the Korean government. 

    For more information about Korea, click here 

    OECD Ministers postpone
    MAI Negociations

    Following a long debate on the future of the MAI, Ministers attending the OECD Council meeting of 27-28 April 1998 were forced to suspend formal negotiations on the Agreement until October. The OECD had previously hoped that the negotiations would be completed in time for the Ministerial meeting, but disagreements between and within some governments on the scope and contents of the MAI along with mounting public opposition on these same issues forced a re-think among key governments. 

    The five month "period of assessment" does not  automatically mean that the MAI is dead at the OECD. Informal discussions will take place between capitals on the key outstanding deal-breakers, while informal working groups will continue to meet in Paris to discuss issues such as labour and the environment. However, the delay plus the commitment to further consultations with "interested parts of their societies" on the MAI opens up a further window of opportunity for trade unions and other groups to campaign for an MAI that we would like to see that balances the rights of investors with reciprocal obligations that match societal needs. 

    For further information, click here. 

    UN Commission On Sustainable Development (CSD) Chimes In with OECD Call for More Dialogue with Trade Unions 
    Country delegates attending the recent meeting of the CSD in New York (20 April - 1 May) adopted a text calling on Governments to facilitate the involvement of workers and trade unions in implementing sustainable development. The CSD held a special dialogue session with Business, Trade Unions and NGOs and for the first time it adopted a variety of social objectives as a means of implementation: employment creation, poverty eradication, gender equality, labour standards, and greater access to education and health care. Annexed documents call for worker involvement through joint workplace target setting, monitoring, evaluation and implementation of change with employers and for increased involvement of trade unions in decision-making. The meeting also encouraged business, trade unions and NGOs to participate in a review of Voluntary Initiatives. The TUAC representative at the meeting, Mr. Lucien Royer said "the direction taken reflects the growing concern in the world that the environmental crisis now requires the involvement of every sector of society if effective change is to take place". He said the leadership provided by OECD Environment Ministers earlier in April calling for improved dialogue with trade unions has influenced decision-makers at the United Nations".

    To find out more and read the trade union statement, click here. 


    The lessons of the Asian crisis was the key theme  in the trade union statement to the G8 Birmingham Summit. This had been presented at a  meeting with Tony Blair at the end of April. Yet overall the Birmingham Summit Communique was complacent on immediate growth prospects and provided an inadequate response to the need for an effective reaction to the Asian crisis. There is still a need for an International Commission to be established to report on the new framework required to regulate international financial markets. There is also a need to allow full public debate in this process. The Summit also failed to respond to the need for a more generous approach to debt relief. The G8 did however make progress on establishing a more practical agenda for national plans on employability and significantly called for union involvement in the implementation of these plans 

    To read the full TUAC evaluation of the Birmingham Summit click here. 


    TUAC representatives meeting the OECD Ministerial Council on 27 April warned that the OECD must draw the right conclusions from the Asian crisis and the public concerns about globalisation. 
    The OECD Ministerial was dominated by the decision  to postpone negotiations on the Multilateral Agreement  on Investment (MAI) until October. The  Communiqué covered a wide agenda including growth, structural reform and the role of OECD itself. 

    To read the TUAC evaluation of the outcome, click here. 

    OECD Mission To Korea To Monitor
    Labour law reform

    Following March consultations between TUAC and the OECD Employment Labour and Social Affairs Committee, the OECD has agreed that the Bureau of the Committee will undertake a Mission to Seoul in September as part of its monitoring activity on labour law reform in Korea. The Committee is also expected to undertake in 1999 a broad based labour market review of Korea as part of the OECD's efforts in helping Korea to overcome its current economic crisis. 

    The OECD’s Employment Labour and Social Affairs Committee has been monitoring Korea's labour law reform efforts since the Spring of 1997 in close cooperation with TUAC and the ILO. This followed international condemnation of the then government when it tried to ram through labour legislation which worsened union rights in December 1996 and produced a general strike in Korea. 

    TUAC and the international trade union movement has welcomed the recent labour law developments in Korea, in particular the continuing work of the Tripartite Commission on the whole process of labour reform and the economic crisis. 

    To find out more on current labour situation click here. 

    Jobs and Growth Unions call for action from G8 Ministers

    A trade union delegation made a presentation to the London Employment Conference (21-22 February) of Finance and Labour Ministers from the G8 (eight major industrialized countries). The trade union statement  called on the governments to launch a response to the Asian financial crisis in the wake of falling growth and employment forecasts in the OECD. In particular it called on governments to: 

    - implement a coordinated global growth strategy which supports balanced growth and sustained domestic demand particularly in Asia; 

    - establish an International Commission to make rapid recommendations on the regulation of international financial markets through the Bank of International Settlements, the IMF and the OECD; 

    - reform the structures and policies of the IMF and World Bank to ensure the observance of core labour standards and human rights and the development of a social dimension to recovery programmes; 

    - ensure that the global trade and investment system guarantees core labour standards - the first test of which is the inclusion of binding labour and environmental standards in the Multilateral Agreement on Investment, being negotiated in the OECD; 

    - implement a strategy for employability and social inclusion through quality job creation, lifelong learning, a partnership for workplace change, active labour market policies, combating low pay, and the removal of unemployment and poverty "traps" in social benefit systems; 

    In the Conclusions of the meeting the Ministers agreed  seven "action points"or principles  on which each country is due to report back to the Birmingham Summit on progress. These are on:- sound macroeconomic policies, structural reform, entrepreneurship and small and medium size enterprises, youth and long term unemployed, tax/benefit reform, lifelong learning, and equal opportunities. The role of unions and social partners in implementing these is also emphasised. This represents less of an agenda of labour market deregulation than at some earlier meetings and TUAC has asked its affiliates from the G8 countries to be involved in the preparation of the national reports before the Birmingham G8 summit in May. 

    On labour standards the Ministers call for "continued collaboration between the ILO and WTO Secretariats", give support to an ILO declaration and implementation mechanism on core labour standards and recognize the role of the Social Partners. This lends support to the international trade union campaign for action in both the WTO and the ILO on promoting core labour standards. 

    At the G7 meeting of Finance Ministers which immediately preceded the Conference, in a potentially significant conclusion on labour standards and the Asian crisis, the Ministers say "we recognized the importance of protecting, as far as possible, humanitarian expenditure including well designed and affordable social safety nets, and the International Financial Institutions' support for the work of the ILO in promoting core labour standards". This represents a move in the direction of including trade union rights criteria in the conditionality of the IMF and World Bank. 

    To find out more and read the trade union evaluation, click here.

    Korean Crisis: IMF must talk to Trade Unions

    The absence of an effective social security and unemployment insurance system in the Republic of Korea increases the need for the Korean trade unions to be included in the IMF discussions about stabilizing the Korean economy, said the TUAC and ICFTU in a press release on 2 December, commenting on the negotiations between the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Korean government. Mass sackings and lay­offs as a consequence of the economic crisis when no functioning welfare system exists for the unemployed could trigger mass unrest and pull the country even deeper into depression, which would be nobody's interest, warned the two international trade union bodies. 

    To find out more, click here. 

    G8 Jobs Conference in Kobe: trade unions at the table

    The Japanese government was host of this year's G7/G8 Jobs Conference on 28-29 November in Kobe. For the first time trade unions and employers' organisations were invited by governments to take part and make presentations in the first conference session. The unions focused on four priorities for tackling the unemployment crisis, emphasizing their own role in managing labour market and structural change. Policies should focus on the quality of job creation and shift away from negative, numerical labour market flexibility. There was a need to reinforce economic growth, particularly in the light of the Asian financial crisis, and the need to enforce core labour standards world-wide. The labour side was represented by Bill Jordan, ICFTU General Secretary, Etsuya Washio, RENGO President, and John Evans, TUAC General Secretary. Click on the names to read their interventions. 

    The Kobe G8 Conference is one of a series of international high-level meetings on employment to which TUAC has prepared the trade union input. 

    To find out more about TUAC's evaluation of the outcome, click here. 

    Globalisation needs a Social Dimension

    "The Social Dimension of Globalisation" is the theme for consultations between TUAC and the OECD Council´s Liaison Committee on 12 December 1997 chaired by the OECD Secretary General. TUAC has provided a paper which discusses the impact of globalisation on labour and the policy response to it in the areas of trade and investment agreements (WTO and MAI), competitiveness and social cohesion in OECD societies, international economic policy, financial market regulation, harmful tax competition between countries and the role of the OECD. TUAC's discussion paper on The Social Dimension of Globalisation is available online. 

    To obtain a copy, click here. 


    Low pay and poverty not a solution to 
    unemployment, say OECD Ministers

    At their meeting on 14-15 October in Paris, Labour Ministers of the 29 OECD countries recognised that low pay, growing poverty and insecurity of workers are not a solution to unemployment but part of the same problem. The Chair of the OECD meeting, Minister Ad Melkert from the Netherlands, in his opening speech called for a new common approach of governments, employers and trade unions to raise labour skills and productivity, and to create good quality jobs and fight social exclusion. He said: "Efforts to deregulate labour relations in ways which are not compatible with conditioning labour skills, productivity and motivation in an evenhanded way (...) are shortsighted and will be to the detriment of economic and social balance in the long run." Labour market deregulation should be replaced by decent regulation, in order to build the bridge between flexibility and security, Melkert said. 

    Ministers also reaffirmed their commitment to observing international labour standards. They now have to implement this in practice in the OECD negotiations on the Multilateral Agreement on Investment, the World Trade Organisation as well as in the International Labour Organisation. The OECD meeting was the first of a series of high level meetings on jobs over the coming months which include the Luxemburg European Summit and Kobe G8 Jobs Conference in November. TUAC has welcomed the "high skill route" to job creation taken by OECD Ministers. 

    To find out more, click here. 


    OECD Labour Ministers' Meeting (2): 
    Unions call for a new initiative on growth
    and jobs and condemn interest rate rises

    Trade unions from the industrialised countries called on governments to take a new initiative on growth and jobs at a meeting in Paris with OECD Labour Ministers on 14 October. The TUAC delegation was led by Rodney Bickerstaffe (TUC) and TUAC Vice President Evy Pedersen (LO Norway) who stated that a two-track approach was needed - there needs to be action to support stronger demand and greater efforts to raise skills and get the unemployed into jobs. Unions welcomed the shift in thinking which is apparent in the OECD that low paid and bad jobs are not an acceptable alternative to unemployment and that broad strategies to combat low pay are necessary alongside action to reduce unemployment. Unemployed poverty must not be shifted into working poverty. 

    The unions were also calling for action to support growth and criticised the rise in interest rates by the major European Central Banks. Speaking in advance of the consultations John Evans, General Secretary of TUAC said: "Reducing unemployment must be the first priority, the October 9 interest rates rises by the European Central Banks are unnecessary and bad news for the unemployed. Inflation in Europe over the last six months has been 1.3 %, yet unemployment is 10.4%. Governments and Central Banks should be trying to encourage faster growth, not to choke it off before it can help in reducing unemployment." - The TUAC statement says: action to reduce unemployment, create good quality jobs and fight social exclusion must be a collective government responsibility involving cooperation between all Ministries and Central Banks. 

    To find out more, click here. 


    OECD Multilateral Agreement on Investment: decision time approaches for the inclusion of Labour and Environmental Standards

    Negotiators from the world's industrialised countries are now stepping-up discussions on the vexed question of whether to include a binding clause to cover labour and environmental standards in the Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI) . At present a small majority of countries are in favour of such a clause in the MAI that would subject governments to a binding dispute settlement procedure should they lower labour and environmental standards to attract foreign investment. Some powerful OECD countries, however, including the United States, Japan and Germany are hostile to a binding clause, instead preferring a voluntary clause that would merely set up a consultative process in the event that labour and environmental standards be violated to attract investment. The danger is that as the deadline of Spring 1998 approaches for the completion of negotiations, governments will trade off a binding clause for other elements of the agreement that they would prefer to have included. 

    The TUAC position on this is that a binding clause must be included in the MAI to balance the rights of workers along with protection for investors. In addition, the clause should make specific reference to universal core labour standards, as already accepted by governments, plus domestic standards. Only in this way can popular support be maintained for globalisation. Without such a clause, many unions will oppose the MAI when governments bring forth enabling legislation in domestic parliaments. At the same time, work will continue with environmental and other NGOs to seek common positions on points of mutual interest, including the need to maintain parallel treatment for labour and environmental issues. 

    To get an update on the state of MAI negotiations and the trade union view, click here. 


    International Conference on Trade Unions and Globalisation held in Seoul, Republic of Korea, on 20-21 October

    In view of the importance of Korea's development for other countries in the Asia-Pacific region, the OECD-TUAC in collaboration with the Asian-Pacific Regional Organisation of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU-APRO), the Federation of Korean Trade Unions (FKTU), and the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung from Germany held a conference on "The Social Dimension of Economic Integration: International Standards in Labour Market and Social Policy" in Seoul in September 1995. It provided an opportunity for over 100 participants from governments, business and trade unions from Korea, the Asia-Pacific, Europe and the United States to have an extensive dialogue with the TUAC and the OECD. The Chair of the OECD Employment, Labour and Social Affairs Committee (ELSAC) and representatives from the OECD and ILO secretariat, representatives from labour unions from Korea, the Asia-Pacific and Europe made important contributions to the conference. 

    A second conference being held in October 1997 is a follow-up to the meeting in 1995 and is intended to take the debate further in the light of new developments and trends. New factors to be considered include the economic change and the challenges of globalisation, the revision of the labour law, and Korea's membership in the OECD. The Trade Union Advisory Committee to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD-TUAC) in collaboration with the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) , the Asian-Pacific Regional Organisation of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU-APRO), the Federation of Korean Trade Unions (FKTU), the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) and the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung collaborate in organising this year's event. More than 60 Korean and 30 international participants, including representatives from Korean trade unions, The Korean Minister of Labour, Korean Government officials, representatives from international bodies such as OECD, ILO, ICFTU, AFL-CIO, IG-Metall and others are to participate. 

    To access the background document for the conference, click here. 

    G-7 Labour Summit Meeting 
    with US President Bill Clinton

    Prior to the G-7/G-8 Denver Summit (20-22 June 1997), trade union leaders from the world's leading industrialised countries met with the host of the Summit, US President Bill Clinton in Washington. They called on the G-7 governments to develop a genuine social dimension to globalisation and to coordinate their economic policies to stimulate sustainable growth and employment. The delegation presented a statement drawn up by the Trade Union Advisory Committee to the OECD and asked President Clinton to convey the trade union messages to the Heads of State at their meeting in Denver. 

    TUAC President Bob White, President of the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) said that an alarming gulf had appeared between the potential growth in living standards springing from globalisation and the reality of growing poverty, insecurity and persistent unemployment which was affecting a large part of the world. Profits and executive salaries were up, but few working people felt secure in the current situation. Governments had shown great energy in attacking fiscal deficits in many of the G-7 countries, they now should show energy in attacking the social deficits. 

    To find out more about the trade union views on employment, growth and globalisation, click here. 


    Sustainable Growth, 
    Sustainable Employment :
    Trade Unions and the Environment

    Five years after the United Nations Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, environment policies are slowly moving up the international agenda. The OECD Secretary General recently appointed a high level advisory group on environment to provide him with recommendations on how the OECD should pursue the broader concept of sustainable development. 

    In TUAC's view, climate change and its economic and societal impacts must be at the centre of the OECD's concerns on sustainable development and the environment. Policy instruments for sustainable production and consumption will need to integrate environmental policies with other economic and social policies (including employment and equity, workplace health and safety issues), not least to ensure public commitment to change. For TUAC, environment policy for sustainable production and consumption starts at the workplace. These were TUAC's central messages to the OECD High-Level Advisory Group on the Environment. 

    To find out more about TUAC's agenda for workplace environment for change and the OECD role, click here. 


    Minister's Agenda for OECD in 1997/98
    Jobs and Social Cohesion, 
    Globalisation and Investment Liberalisation, Future Membership

    The May 1997 meeting of the OECD Council at Ministerial Level (Ministers of Finance, Economics and Foreign Affairs) covered three issues:- promoting sustainable growth and social cohesion; pursuing trade and investment liberalisation; and the future role of the OECD itself. The Ministerial Communiqué provides guidelines for future areas of OECD work and can be regarded as a barometer for the economic and political climate in the policies of the industrialised countries belonging to the OECD. In tripartite consultations with the Ministers prior to the meeting the TUAC delegation warned that if the OECD is to be relevant to the growing discussion on the social dimension of economic globalisation, it has to continue work on labour standards in the global trade and investment system.

    To read TUAC's evaluation of OECD priorities in 1997-1998, click here. 



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