Photo: courtesy of the ITUC
Photo: courtesy of the ITUC

Global Unions call upon the World Bank and the IMF to support public investment

published 9 October 2020 updated 4 November 2020

The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) will hold their Annual Meetings on 16-18 October. The International Financial Institutions can play a critical role in ensuring that there is a real and sustainable recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. The International Trade Union Confederation and Global Union Federations, while recognising positive action by both institution to the crisis, in a statement, call on them to lead an effort for global solidarity that reduces poverty and leads to more just development.

The Global Unions statement urges measures to provide long-term and comprehensive relief for the debt burden of developing countries as well as other actions to address the dangers of global inequality and stimulate employment.

It includes an emphasis on the importance of quality, fully-funded public services, saying, “COVID-19 should instil a shift toward supporting universal social protection, health coverage, and ensuring quality, equitable and inclusive education – not just today, but moving forward. The Bank can take a first step by making permanent the freeze on investments in for-profit K-12 schools.”

In a circular to all member organisations, Education International General Secretary David Edwards urged action at national level to support the Global Union position, including sharing it with governments and with the Executive Directors of the World Bank and the IMF.

Education International has also signed a joint statement with over 500 union and civil society organisations and academic in defence of public services that calls on the IMF to stop promoting austerity.

In the middle of the pandemic and associated crises, this year, the IMF has called on countries to return to austerity once the pandemic is over. Evidence indicates that up to 90 per cent of low-income countries were advised to freeze or reduce spending on public wages. There has already been a considerable slow-down in efforts to achieve the sustainable development goals by 2030. Many countries will be thrown even further off track on Goal 4 on education.

Education International General Secretary David Edwards stressed that “the fault lines in global solidarity, in social justice, and in public services have become more visible and injustice has been accentuated by the pandemic and related disasters”.

“People in all regions of the world have learned or re-learned powerful lessons from these crises about the value of public services and of the contributions of education workers who make those services possible. Politicians, governments, and international institutions, especially the World Bank and the IMF, need to learn those same lessons and avert the plague of indifference to injustice and human pain. We must make that happen.”

The Global Unions statement can be found here.

The Joint Statement by Education International with other trade union and civil society organisations and academics can be found here.

On 13 October, Education International, Public Services International, and ActionAid hosted a webinar on the impact of public wage cuts and freezes.