Notes for G8 Consultation Meeting in Trieste
(Italy 2-4 March, 2001)
International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU)
Trade Union Advisory Committee to the OECD (TUAC)
Trade unions have focused on poverty elimination, decent employment
and core labour standards as key elements of sustainable development. In
order to ensure proper implementation of objectives (including for climate
change) they have also promoted roles for workplaces, workers and trade-unions,
as contemplated in Chapter 29 of Agenda 21.
Understanding the Social Dimension: Trade unions,
along with a growing number of organisations, have called for the social
dimension of sustainable development to be recognised, measured and reported
along with environmental and economic aspects. Decent employment and job
creation must be central, not peripheral to this dimension, as they address
the issue of access to essential goods and services, as well to the environmental
effects of population increases. The G8 should reinforce the principle
that policies and strategies related to the implementation plans for sustain-able
development (e.g. for water, energy and other resources) should be measured
against employ-ment specifically, and social indicators generally, in addition
to their environmental implications.
|The Social Dimension refers to the alleviation of poverty, security
of livelihood, access to food, shelter, water, health & welfare, social
security, sanitation, education, transport, and incorporates protection
of basic human and economic freedoms as enshrined in international Conventions
and Protocols. Full social impact assessments must become the norm,
to be fully integrated with envi-ronmental and economic assessments. Theoretical
prediction models must pave the way to real-life assessments of impacts.
A Focus on Workplaces: It is crucial that the G8
focus on the worlds workplaces, as they are at the hub of production,
and major consumers in their own right. Effective change in the workplace
can only be achieved with the full engagement of workers and trade unions,
however. Trade union capacities for training and education, as well as
their expertise in occupational health and safety, can be effectively utilised
in such strategies as Workplace Assessments" for sustainable develop-ment
generally, and wiser uses of resources, specifically.
|Workplace assessments are undertaken by workers, their representatives
and employers to identify where workplace performance can be improved.
They lead to joint target-setting, monitoring, rec-ord-keeping, and implementation,
in tandem with enterprise management systems for environment (e.g. Cleaner
Production or ISO), health and safety (e.g. ILO Guidelines or Government
regula-tions), internal or 3rd party enterprise audits, or Government-based
programmes (e.g. EMAS). To some extent, they must also link and be evaluated
by community organisations or local govern-ments, and can also be made
to work with collective agreements or other special partnership ar-rangements.
Workers & Sustainable Consumption: The scale
change required to achieve Agenda 21 requires that workers also become
more responsible consumers of resources like water and energy. Pro-grammes
must not only improve workplace performance; they must also seek to impact
on personal and domestic consumption of workers, and the community.
Creating Positive Attitudes For Change: Major barriers
to worker involvement must be addressed, as identified by the ILOs Socio-Economic
Security Programme. Socio-economic security policies, for example, can
pave the way for poverty elimination through secure employment, as a corner-stone
of sustainable development, as well as by enhancing the engagement of workers
in workplace and social change. Workers are prepared to support change,
but only if they believe that transition programmes will provide retraining,
re-employment, compensation, or otherwise continued liveli-hood. The close
relationship between poverty, population increases and incomes makes the
devel-opment of social and employment transition plans a necessity. It
also depends upon respect for internationally-recognised ILO core labour
standards, above all the freedom of association and the right to organise.
|OECD Guidelines on Multinationals should be promoted as instruments
for sustainable develop-ment and G8 should promote their use by all countries.
Climate Change & employment Impacts: Climate
change strategies reveal problems associated not just with energy, but
with attempts to implement Agenda 21 generally. While a few national and
regional reviews have been conducted on social and employment impacts of
climate change (or its mitigation), overall effects have yet to become
a priority in international discussions. Although jobs are sure to be lost
and created in any climate change scenario, there has been no significant
attempt to ascertain the extent of these casualties, globally.
|Business & Trade Union Call For Cooperation Between OECD, ILO
and EU: In October 2000, OECD hosted a climate change meeting with
BIAC (Business Advisory Committee to the OECD) and TUAC (Trade Union Advisory
Committee to the OECD). Experts urged governments to en-courage more co-operation
between ILO, OECD, the European Union and others to study the em-ployment
implications of climate change. The G8 should seek to echo this recommendation.
Preparing For Social and Energy Transitions: Social
and employment transition programmes to in-sure full worker/union collaboration
with employers, environmentalists, and governments must also be a focus
for the G8. Social & employment transition measures must ensure a continued
livelihood and orderly conversion for workers and affected communities,
with minimum income protection, access to new jobs, educational assistance
and social programs to ensure uninterrupted access to basic needs and services.
It must also be integrated with the development of alternative energy sce-narios,
which incorporate green job promotion.
Understanding Financial Flows in the Energy Sector:
As few employers can sustain the cost of transition on their own, transition
issues must be addressed within sectors or across borders, and provide
equitable distribution of the costs or benefits. Given the substantial
financial flows the global energy sector generates, it could hold the key
to the financing of successful transition pro-grams. A full range
of financial and economic instruments must be used to redirect, traditional
en-ergy financing toward improving transition, which should take place
in concert with the develop-ment of alternative energy scenarios.
Subsidies & Investment Practices: G8 must respond
to growing demands for a review of subsidies. A recent OECD study, Reforming
and Transport Subsidies, proposes that many transport subsidies work
directly against the goal of sustainable development, and that their removal
would result in substantial reductions in CO2 emissions and stimulate economic
growth. This could yield positive results, on condition that any changes
to subsidies are first measured against their employ-ment and social impacts
and form part of a well integrated process toward sustainable development.
Subsidy reform does not necessarily mean removal. Where subsidies and fees
exist for sound policy reasons, such as employment, a solution might be
to convert subsidies into local incentives for em-ployment, or grants for
home insulation, or for improving facilities for non-motorized and public
|Export Credits: The G8 should call on the OECD to review the
role of Export credits, so as to en-sure that they are compatible
with and promote in practice the social and environmental pillars of sustainable