Fwd: ICFTU OnLine - World Economic Forum Davos

Doug Henwood dhenwood at panix.com
Wed Jan 26 09:36:20 PST 2000

From: Press <press at icftu.org> Date: Wed, 26 Jan 2000 13:19:39 +0100


ICFTU OnLine 018/260100/DD

World Economic Forum: 27 January - 1 February 1999 World Labour Leaders promise a fresh start for Globalisation and call for social alliance

Geneva and Brussels, January 26 2000: "Davos is the time for government and business leaders to recognise the need for a fresh start that would give globalisation the social dimension which it lacks. We are calling for an alliance involving the social partners to make the trading system sustainable, to tackle the concerns of developing countries and to protect workers everywhere during globalisation," said the world labour leaders attending the World Economic Forum.

"The failure of the WTO Ministerial Meeting last December, and the way it demonstrated the fragility of globalisation, has shown that people are no longer prepared to accept that world trade can operate free of ethical considerations", say the labour leaders. "If world trade is to regain popular confidence, it must have a more human face, and the power of working people can build policies to make that happen".

A team of nine international labour leaders will be presenting their call for world leaders to globalise social justice. "People are waking up to the wrongs which have been done in the name of globalisation. We are asking those present to commit themselves to work towards universal social justice".

Six wrongs to be righted: * Trade union rights violations are worsening: 123 trade unionists were murdered in 1998, 1650 individuals were attacked or injured, 3660 were arrested, and a massive 21,427 were sacked for trade union activities. * Social inequality is on the increase worldwide. Throughout the world the rich/poor gap is turning into a chasm both within and between countries. Of the 45 countries classified by the United Nations as the least developed nations, 33 are in Africa. * Two thirds of illiterate adults are women, who bear the brunt of the world's economic and social crisis. * Over US$1.5 trillion is exchanged every day in currency markets around the world; approximately 95% of which is speculative, and which fails to benefit the world's poorest countries. * The real beneficiaries of the globalisation are the transnational corporations. Of the top 100 economies, 51 are these corporations. The combined sales of the world's top 200 companies surpass the combined economies of 182 countries. * Over 250 million children are child labourers, who should be at school, being educated as their country's future.

The labour leaders' programme for 2000 The labour leaders have a six-point programme, which if carried out, could make substantial moves to right these wrongs. * There must be full respect of fundamental labour standards in all countries if trade is to create better conditions for the world's working people. * There must be a social strategy for the new global economy, with a strong emphasis on social protection systems within individual countries. * There should be a greatly increased financial commitment by industrialised countries to development programmes in which gender issues are of principal consideration. * Aid should be targeted at social programmes, and there should be a determined campaign to wipe out poverty, reduce developing country debt and support democratic institutions. * Employment must be given a central role in the preparation of economic and social policy. * There is a need to develop good global industrial relations, which would include social partnership on general issues as well as addressing concerns from both sides of industry to resolve problems which arise inside global firms and sectors.

This year's labour leader's group consists of: Dieter Schulte, President, Deutscher Gewerkschaftsbund, (DBG) Germany, John Evans, General Secretary, Trade Union Advisory Committee, OECD, Emilio Gabaglio, General Secretary, European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC), Kenneth Georgetti, President, Canadian Labour Congress, Canada; Philip Jennings, General Secretary, Union Network International (UNI) who is available on ++41 22 79 200 6858, Bill Jordan, General Secretary, International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU), John Monks, General Secretary, Trade Union Congress, United Kingdom, John Sweeney, President, American Federation of Labour and Congress of Industrial Organisations (AFL-CIO), United States, Ursula Engelen-Kefer, Deputy Chair, Management Board, Deutscher Gewerkschaftsbund, (DBG) Germany.

Sessions with the Labour Leaders at the Forum

Labour unions: strategies for the 21st century. Saturday, January 29, 17.00 - 18.15. Labour leaders will discuss how unions can remain relevant in the new economy, with greater job flexibility, and whether they will be able to remain the interlocutor between management and the workforce.

Labour Leaders Press Conference Monday, January 31, 9.50 Labour leaders will present the major issues for labour which arise out of the Forum debates.

Unions and Globalisation Monday, January 31 13.15 - 14.15 All the labour leaders will attend this session and will address the issue of unions taking a global role in the global economy.

Plenary Session: Can we take open markets for granted? Friday, January 28, 10.30 - 11.40 John Sweeney will participate in this session with Michael Moore, Director-General WTO, Ernesto Zedillo Ponce de Leon, President of Mexico and Percy Barnevik, Chairman, Investor AB, Sweden.

Future trade wars: defining trade policies to meet social and ethical concerns, Friday, January 28, 13.15 - 14.45 Bill Jordan will attend this session, with political and industry leaders. They will discuss whether it is possible to trust trade experts to find the right policy for issues such as genetically modified foods, and how these issues should be deal with in future deliberations. Moderator: Martin Wolf, of the Financial Times.

For further details in Brussels please contact: ICFTU Press Office on : ++322 224 0212. To contact Bill Jordan in Davos call: Hotel Bahnhof-Terminus, 41 81 413 25 25 or mobile: ++32 75 42 66 43

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