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G20 Labour and Employment Ministers choose to narrow agenda despite global employment and wages crisis for people

04 September 2019

The Japan G20 presidency ends with a G20 Labour and Employment Ministerial which narrowed its agenda to focus on ageing, demographic change and gender equality.

This year’s Labour Ministers communique did not build on past G20 commitments, nor commit to implementing the ILO Centenary Declaration, Goal 8 of the SDG’s or OECD recommendations on non-standard forms of work – all of which call for rights, just transitions and decent work.

Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary, said “The Ministers’ communique fails to acknowledge and act on the rising inequality and massive wealth concentration creating the wages crisis, the urgency of job creation, the breakdown in secure employment along with digital disruption and climate shifts requiring just transition measures.”

“In an adverse multilateral context, achieving agreement on a declaration is apparently itself seen as an achievement. Without comprehensive action across the wealthiest countries, this raises questions as to the effectiveness of the G20 employment track with concerns that the G20 labour and employment process could become less relevant with next years Saudi presidency,” said Pierre Habbard, General Secretary of TUAC.

“It is essential that G20 countries take social dialogue seriously, domestically and internationally, and work with social partners. They should take the recent G7 tripartite statement as a basis for dialogue and replicate that at G20 level” said Burrow.

Rikio Kozu, President of the Japanese trade union confederation Rengo said that as non-standard forms of work grow, it is important to secure employment protections for workers and improve working conditions for the increasing number of workers in child care and aged care. He reinforced the concern that many issues have not been addressed and urged Labour and Employment Ministers to look to these in ongoing discussions.

The L20 assessment of the communiqué finds:

Demographic change:
The workers right to “chose” longer working lives must be central to any shifts in working age, not the sustainability of pension funds. This is a precondition for unions. Governments must rebuild and secure social protection including pensions to ensure universal coverage with both adequacy and security.

Future of work:
The focus on the Future of Work is a welcome recognition of the challenges and risks of platform businesses. But beyond the recognition of the need to extend social protection the responses do not advance the need for social dialogue and strengthen collective bargaining. In essence, it is a repetition of previous statements.

Long-term care work:
Important attention is paid to long-term care workers but the text fails to acknowledge the risks of informality, discriminatory wages, occupational health and safety or other decent work deficits including the need to take decisive action on collective bargaining rights.

Gender equality:
The attention Women’s participation and violence in the workplace is welcome, but there is no firm commitment to ratify the new ILO Convention. It reminds Governments of previous commitments to increase female participation by +25% by 2025 and improve women’s job quality.

Global supply chains:
While a renewed commitment to end modern slavery, forced labour and child labour with a commitment to Alliance 8.7 is welcome, there is no call for rights in supply chains, mandated due diligence, a minimum living wage or a new ILO Convention to end the dehumanising exploitation of workers on who global trade depends.

 

For more information, please find the L20 Statement to the G20 Labour and Employment Ministers’ Meeting here.