Member area

OECD Ministerial Council overlooks collective bargaining and social dialogue

06 May 2024

TUAC says the OECD Ministerial Council Statement is positive in

  • committing to strengthening implementation of climate action; developing closer cooperation with the Indo-Pacific region and Africa, and reaffirming universal respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms,
  • acknowledging the need to tackle inequalities and recognizing the importance of improving the quality of employment.

TUAC also considers the Ministerial meeting’s adoption of a strengthened Recommendation on Artificial Intelligence as a positive step.

“It is disappointing that the Ministerial Statement merely commits to take into account socially just transitions to a net-zero economy,” said Veronica Nilsson, General Secretary of TUAC, “rather than to ensure that the transition is socially just.”

While strongly supporting closer ties to African, Asian and Pacific countries, TUAC insists that this must include dialogue with trade unions.

“It is a missed opportunity that the Ministerial Statement makes no reference to trade unions, collective bargaining or even social dialogue”

— Veronica Nilsson, General Secretary of TUAC,

TUAC argued at the Ministerial Council Meeting (MCM) that development aid and policies to tackle poverty in developing economies should prioritise enabling workers to join trade unions and encouraging governments to support collective bargaining – as most adults in poverty are in work, and collective bargaining increases wages and reduces inequality.

TUAC also called on OECD countries to enforce labour standards in trade agreements, and to prioritise enforceable labour clauses in future trade deals.

The MCM adopted a Revised Recommendation of the Council on Artificial Intelligence. The Recommendation states the need to respect internationally recognised labour rights, calls for social dialogue to ensure a fair transition for workers, and for governments to work closely with stakeholders to enhance the quality of jobs.

“Governments must now implement the recommendation on artificial intelligence, to develop and update regulation to address the risks and ensure the benefits are fairly shared. The Recommendation represents a starting point, TUAC calls on the OECD to guide countries in putting it into practice.”

— Veronica Nilsson

The MCM adopted Roadmaps for the accession of Indonesia and Argentina to the OECD. TUAC insists that respect for labour rights, and the promotion of strong industrial relation systems with wide collective bargaining coverage, must be a condition for OECD accession.

The theme of the 2024 MCM, which took place on 2-3 May, was ‘Co-Creating the Flow of Change: Leading Global Discussions with Objective and Reliable Approaches towards Sustainable and Inclusive Growth’. TUAC appreciated the emphasis placed on sustainable and inclusive growth, and its prominence in the Ministerial statement.

Taking part in the MCM were Veronica Nilsson, General Secretary of TUAC; Hideyuki Shimizu, Vice President of TUAC and General Secretary of Japanese Trade Union Confederation RENGO; and Eric Peres, Secretary General of FO Cadres, France.

TUAC submitted detailed comments ahead of the OECD Ministerial Council, which were also presented to a pre-MCM consultation between social partners and the OECD and the Japanese Presidency of the MCM.

For more information: the full OECD Ministerial Council statement.