Investment in people must be a key factor in stimulus plans to recover from the financial and economic crisis. This was one of the messages from EI and the Trade Union Advisory Committee (TUAC) to the Council of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), comprising ambassadors from the 30 member countries, meeting in Paris on 26 March.
TUAC General Secretary John Evans highlighted the Declaration of Global Unions for the second G20 summit, to be held in London on 2 April.
Bob Harris, Chair of the TUAC Working Group on Education Training and Employment Policy and EI's Senior Consultant to the General Secretary, said that governments had to increase not decrease spending on education. Vocational education and training would have to be stepped up in national recovery plans. Governments would also have to maintain vital investment in research and innovation, which had been partially privatized in many countries in recent years.
John Evans warned governments that anger was mounting among the members in OECD countries, who felt strongly the injustice of massive job losses due to a crisis caused by imprudence and greed.
Bob Harris asked the ambassadors to convey to their governments that EI member organisations were ready to present propositions for investment in people as part of the solution. “It is going to be a long road, and we will have to rebuild economies brick by brick, based on education and training,” he said, while warning that “education and training can’t do the whole thing – at the end of the day, there must be jobs for people, and that depends on getting the fundamentals of the economy right.”
He also told the ambassadors to convey to their governments the critical importance of engaging with education unions at this time of crisis. “Just governing by announcements will not work. Governments need social partners, including the education unions, and that means active engagement,” he said.
Harris also called on governments to engage support staff in schools, colleges and universities, who are needed to ensure safe learning environments for children and young people. “The jobs of these support staff are often at risk because they have been engaged on short-term contracts by agencies,” he pointed out. “Yet there are schools and educational establishments in all communities, so keeping them in employment has a direct stimulus effect across each country.”
He also stressed the importance of the United Nations Secretary General’s call to the G20 to set up a stimulus fund for the developing countries. “Otherwise, progress towards the MDGs, including Education for All, will grind to a halt,” he said.
OECD Secretary General Angel Gurria agreed with the TUAC representatives that the way out of the crisis required not only technical measures, but a return to values, with liberties guaranteed in a framework of rules, and a restored sense of fairness needed to prevent breakdowns in social cohesion.
To be submitted to the representatives of the G20 countries meeting on 2 April in London, UK, the international trade union movement produced a "London Declaration" outlining a set of actions vital to the recovery process.
Put People First: Join the pre-G20 demonstration in London on 28 March!
On 28 March, thousands will march through London as part of a global campaign to challenge the G20, ahead of their 2 April summit on the global financial crisis. Both EI and the International Trade Union Confederation and their member organisations, and in particular those in the G20 countries, will be represented at the rally organised by the UK Trade Union Congress.
Click on the links below to download the London Declaration as well as EI's circular to its member organisations on 20 March regarding G20 Summit in pdf format.