07 April 2023
Labour 7 urges the G7 to support wage increases and access to social protection
Trade unions from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, UK and USA met in Tokyo yesterday and today, ahead of the G7 Labour and Employment Ministerial Meeting to present their concerns and proposals to the Japanese Presidency of the G7, including in a meeting with the Prime Minister of Japan, Fumio Kishida.
Top of the agenda was the need to raise wages, tackle inequality and increase investment in green energy rather than raise interest rates and cut government spending in response to the global cost of living crisis.
"The cost-of-living crisis is hitting workers and their families the hard, and increasing poverty and inequality are threatening social cohesion.
"For real wages to catch up, governments need to provide an enabling environment, not least by promoting social dialogue and collective bargaining."
Higher wages are an economic and social necessity. Unions noted that the Government and Central Bank of Japan as well as employers supported wage increases in March at the “shunto” annual wage talks, resulting in biggest average wage increases for about 30 years.
“The G7 should follow the example of the Japanese Government and Central Bank and support pay rises” said Veronica Nilsson, Acting General Secretary of TUAC.
“G7 countries also need to invest in key sectors such as health and education, and in the green economy, so we can transition to carbon-neutral societies while upholding workers’ rights and livelihoods.
Other key issues raised by the trade unions with the Japanese Presidency of the G7 were
While inequalities are rising both between and within countries, and the crisis affects the most vulnerable the hardest, the Labour 7 also discussed how to provide access to social protection such as health care and income security (for the elderly, the unemployed and children) to the 4 billion people without any social benefits with UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights, Olivier de Schutter.
‘’The right to social security is a human right. The lack of social protection is a cause of suffering as well as social, economic and political instability,” said Veronica Nilsson. “Trade unions strongly support the proposal for a Global Fund for Social Protection and will not rest until there is social protection in every country in the world. We expect the World Social Summit in 2025 to deliver tangible progress and Governments, financial institutions and businesses to take concrete actions to foster social justice”
“Increasing wages with inflation would go a long way towards guarding against in-work poverty – with IMF researchers concluding that fears of a wage-price spiral feeding inflation are largely ill-founded.
“Perhaps most importantly of all, a Global Fund for Social Protection – an international financing mechanism supporting the funding of minimum levels of social protection – could fill the dangerous gaps in social protection facing many of the world’s workers.
UN Special Rapporteur Olivier de Schutter said “The world has been left reeling from the Covid-19 pandemic and invasion of Ukraine, both of which have contributed to the first rise in global poverty in decades and a cost-of-living crisis that has hammered households already struggling to get by.
“The world is seriously off-track and in need of a change of direction. Now is not the time for G7 members to bring out the same tired solutions that got us into this mess in the first place.
“Without decent and fairly-paid work there will be no end to poverty. Without social protection there will be no social justice. I urge G7 Leaders to remember this as they navigate the enormous challenges of our time.”
The L7 was organized by TUAC and Japanese trade union RENGO in cooperation with the ITUC and the Japanese Presidency of the G7.
For the full L7 trade unions’ statement to the G7 governments see https://tuac.org/news/labour-7-urges-g7-leaders-to-uphold-workers-rights-and-commit-to-social-justice/
See below for full message of UN Special Rapporteur, Olivier de Schutter, to TUAC and L7