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(10 September 1998) International Trade Unions call for action from the
G7 to stem the risk of recession and establish an international Commission
on financial markets.
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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.
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