19 May 2023
Japan hosts the G7 Summit of the Leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, UK, USA and the EU – on 19-21 May in Hiroshima with ‘economic resilience and security’ high on the agenda. Leaders will meet in times of high geopolitical uncertainty and in global economic slowdown, and rising inequalities.
A very wide range of people and organisations from G7 countries – the leaders’ own Labour and Employment Ministers as well as trade unions, business and civil society – agree on key messages ahead of the Summit.
G7 leaders have received a crystal-clear message from their own Ministers, and also from business, trade unions and civil society that they should promote collective bargaining for higher wages, support a socially just transition to a green and digital future, and invest in social protection. G7 leaders should follow sound advice when it comes from so many sources
In a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, L7 put the case for “adequate wages determined through collective bargaining” and pointed out that “higher wages that .. keep up with inflation .. are .. a social and economic necessity.”
At their recent meeting in Kurashiki, Japan, the Labour and Employment Ministers agreed “it is important to provide employees with adequate remuneration including through collective bargaining” and reaffirmed that ‘’the right to collective bargaining is the foundation of decent work”. Ministers further “committed to promoting appropriate improvements in working conditions, including real wage growth”. This must now be explicitly endorsed by G7 Leaders and translated into concrete actions at the national level, through social dialogue.
In a joint statement, business and unions from the G7 countries said, “In the current context of cost-of-living crisis, governments should adopt policies that promote social dialogue including collective bargaining’’.
Similarly, in their joint statement G7 countries’ civil society (C7) and trade unions (L7) stated ‘’ While in-work poverty is increasing …. we call on G7 Leaders to support pay rises and to facilitate collective bargaining”.
Socially Just transition
The G7 must do more to protect our planet and our biodiversity. Moving towards carbon neutral economies is more urgent than ever and will have far-reaching implications for the labour market, which is why trade unions call for a just transition.
In a document presented to the Japanese Prime Minister, who will chair the G7 Summit, trade union leaders urged the G7 to “urgently work towards a Just Transition to secure the future and livelihoods of workers and their communities in the transition to a low-carbon economy.”
The Labour and Employment Ministers’ unanimously acknowledged that ‘’while digital transformation and green transformation contribute to job creation, sustainability, and economic growth, they may also increase inequalities, job and income insecurity, poorer working conditions, and lead to inadequate coverage of social protection, especially for the most vulnerable. We need to support workers and businesses to adapt to the changes, promote innovation and ensure a just transition at every level.’’
Leaders must take this agenda forward and commit to a just transition in their own countries, but also globally, including through increased financial commitments and support to the developing countries, who often pay the highest price of a climate change they are least responsible for.
The G7 Labour and Employment Ministers reaffirmed “the need to be adequately prepared with well-designed labour market policies, including support for workers to remain in, enter into and return to employment, and universal and adequate access to social protection”.
While the C7 and L7 groups concurred that “Investment in universal social protection is urgently needed to protect people from crises … and foster a just transition to carbon neutral economy”.
Businesses also understand the key role of social protection in times of rapidly evolving labour markets. The B7 and L7 groups jointly stressed that “Investing in decent work and human capital would require G7 nations to place access to sustainable universal social protection, safety and health, education and skills development high in the national development agenda.” They also jointly called for “deliberate and systematic efforts to reduce inequalities by promoting decent work, respect for fundamental principles and rights at work, invest in human capital and social protection”.
TUAC urges G7 leaders to take heed of what their Labour and Employment Ministers, trade unions, business and civil society are calling for, and to prioritise economic resilience and security over excess profits and inequality. The G7 can make a difference, but only if it decides to do so.
For links to the Employment and Labour Ministers Kurashiki Declaration, the Joint L7-B7 statement and the Joint C7-L7 statement see
*Social protection includes a wide range of benefits and services such as income support, health services, child-care and care for the elderly