General Secretaries of the International Trade Union Confederation and the Global Union Federations met on the fringes of the International Labour Conference in Geneva today to discuss joint action on cross-sectoral labour issues.
Rosa Pavanelli, General Secretary of Public Services International and Chair of the Council of Global Unions, opened the discussion with a stocktaking on global supply chains, which are often based on a model of low wages, insecure and unsafe workplaces, and increasing informal work situations.
While e.g. the recent discussion of these issues by G20 labour ministers in Bad Neuenahr (Germany) sent positive signals, the global labour movement is urging the global community to take measures to combat such problems. "We would like to see every country mandate the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights for workers in global supply chains, with due diligence and grievance procedures that enable remedy against exploitation for the millions of workers on whom multinationals rely on for their products and services," said Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary.
The global labour movement also unites around tax justice solutions as means to combat inequality, corporate power and corruption. Led by PSI and supported by EI and partner organisations such as ActionAid, this work is an essential part of the response to the rise of right-wing populist reactions to inequality and a globalisation that seems designed only in the interests of wealthy elites. It exposes and explains how neo-liberal economic approaches have tended to bolster corporate power and undermine efforts to tackle inequality - but also outlines a realistic, achievable, and progressive alternative.
Finally, outgoing President of the ILO Workers’ Group, Luc Cortebeeck of Belgian trade union center ACV/CSC highlighted the importance of tripartite social dialogue as ingrained into the structures of the International Labour Organsiation, and was joined by the labour leaders present in an reaffirmation of the importance if ILO mechanisms such as the Freedom of Association Committee and the Committee on the Application of Standards, which national unions are able to use as foundational frameworks in their daily struggle for the improvement of working conditions and labour rights.