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Policies for a more equitable world: TUAC’s reaction to G7’s 2022 commitments

30 June 2022

G7 leaders met in Elmau, Germany, on 26-28 June 2022, to reaffirm their strong commitment to multilateralism, to condemn Russia’s aggression against Ukraine and to discuss a number of key policies to build a more equitable world, from climate, environment and energy, to global economy and finance, trade, employment, health, infrastructure, sustainable development, and digitalisation.

Overall, several of the demands set out in the L7 Statement were met, although the communiqué could have been stronger on a number of issues. Key outcomes include the establishment of a standing Employment Working Group; support for universal social protection and for the proposal to set up a “Global Accelerator on Jobs and Social Protection for Just Transition”; as well as language on the importance of effective occupational safety and health; and the need to strengthen compliance with international standards, including through mandatory measures. This also reflects the discussion and commitments made at the Labour and Employment Ministers Meeting (LEMM), which took place on 24 May in Wolfsburg.

Global economy and finance

G7 leaders recognise the challenges posed by the war in Ukraine to global economic recovery in the aftermath of COVID-19, disruptions to supply chains, the risk of strategic commodity shortages (most notably food and energy) and rising inflation.

Governments “continue to strive for a strong, sustainable, balanced, gender-equal, and inclusive global recovery.” Yet, it appears that the strong consensus on the role of the public sector in guiding the economic recovery, which was prominent at the peak of the COVID-19 crisis, has started to wane. By “remain[ing] committed to a stability- and growth-oriented macro-economic policy mix, which ensures medium-term sustainability of public finances and preserves the resilience of the financial sector”, G7 leaders seem to be shifting the primary focus back again from securing a robust recovery to containment of public expenditure. The implicit goal is to curtail rising inflation, but it risks further deteriorating growth expectations in the period to come, without tackling the underlying supply-side causes of global inflation.

Employment and just transition

The G7 leaders emphasise the need to promote “decent and high-quality work, particularly in light of the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the digital and net-zero transformation on labour markets and associated demands on companies and workers, but no concrete targets were set nor specific measures for how to achieve decent work. They also committed to strengthening efforts to foster continuing education and training (CET), and to increase the share of official development assistance (ODA) for measures towards the greening of the economy.

The G7 Employment and Labour Ministers also adopted an Action Plan for inclusive Continuing Education and Training of Adults towards a Green Economy to raise the participation rate of low-skilled adults in continuing education and training (CET) measures. Measures to remove financial and structural barriers to training are crucial in order to reach the most vulnerable and increase the participation rate of low-skilled adults, but the action plan only commits governments to “consider“ the actions laid out in the roadmap.

Improving Occupational Safety and Health (OSH)

L7 made a strong case for incorporating occupational safety and health (OSH) in the ILO framework for fundamental principles and rights at work, a framework which was ultimately endorsed by the G7 at the LEMM and adopted by the ILO at the 110th International Labour Conference in June. The G7 leaders also endorsed the Roadmap towards Safe and Healthy Work in a Green Economy, which emphasises the need for preventive measures, as well as the need to strengthen compliance with rules and regulations through labour inspection and public procurement policies. Although the roadmap should be seen as a strong indication that governments acknowledge the need to improve OSH, it does not contain concrete deliverables. Finally, the G7 leaders reiterated their support for the Vision Zero Fund.

Strengthening universal social protection

The L7 also made a strong case for assisting the world’s poorest countries in establishing social protection systems. Although G7 leaders expressed their support for the UN Secretary-General’s proposal to set up a “Global Accelerator on Jobs and Social Protection for Just Transition” to create 400 million jobs and to extend social protection to low-income countries that are currently not covered by any social protection system, they fell short of making any commitment to provide funding.

Binding international standard on human rights due diligence

Progress was also made regarding the L7 call for a binding international standard on human rights due diligence. The G7 leaders committed to working towards an international consensus on business and human rights to strengthen compliance with international standards, including through unspecified mandatory measures, and to address abuses and support remedy. They also  expressed their support for the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, the ILO Tripartite Declaration of Principles concerning Multinational Enterprises and Social Policy and the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises.