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TUAC assessment of 2023 OECD Ministerial Council Statement

15 June 2023

Securing a resilient future: shared values and global partnerships

The 2023 OECD Ministerial Council meeting statement

The Ministerial Council meeting (MCM) statement mentions and renews commitments in relation to OECD core values, and many of the current challenges facing OECD countries today. Some of these commitments are useful and welcome. TUAC will work with the OECD, OECD member Governments and trade unions in OECD member states to implement them.

However, the words ‘social dialogue’ or ‘collective bargaining’ do not feature once in the four-page MCM statement covering sustainable and inclusive growth, digitalization and artificial intelligence, and the transition to a net zero economy. These and other topics mentioned in the statement, for example responsible business conduct, require social dialogue and collective bargaining precisely to achieve a sustainable and inclusive outcome and to sustain democracy.

That they are not mentioned is profoundly worrying for the trade union movement and the millions of working people it represents. It raises doubts on the commitments to be inclusive, to tackle inequalities and to seek prosperity for all.

The MCM statement recognises that the rapid tightening of monetary policy is “weighing on growth prospects”, but claims it is “necessary for reducing inflation” even though increasing interest rates will not tackle the current drivers of inflation which are specific supply side bottlenecks and corporate profit-price spirals. TUAC finds it hard to understand why an organization for economic cooperation and development would support a policy it says holds back growth.

The pursuit of restrictive monetary and fiscal policies contradicts the commitment to policies that deliver growth and social inclusion. TUAC regrets that governments do not address the need to invest in a green and digital future in the opening paragraph, giving the impression that the climate crisis is secondary to other problems.

The statement welcomes “all new and updated OECD standards adopted at this Ministerial Council” and specifically mentions the Declaration on Promoting and Enabling Responsible Business Conduct (RBC) in the Global Economy and the Recommendation on the Role of Government in Promoting RBC. The updated Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises for RBC give governments an improved package of tools to facilitate more constructive cooperation between business and trade unions, and now need to be implemented.

The statement rightly calls for “transformative action” to keep a limit of 1.5C global average temperature rise that covers the whole economy and recognizes the “need to mobilize finance from all sources” (although how this can be done when pursuing restrictive fiscal and monetary policies is not explained).  It underlines the role of the OECD in “assisting governments in just transitions to net zero” but does not set out the policies required such as investment in skills, social protection and social dialogue and collective bargaining. The statement mentions adopting targeted measures to protect the most vulnerable but does not refer to tackling inequalities in the transition to carbon neutrality. It is regrettable that the statement does not refer to OECD governments supporting Just Energy Transition Partnerships.

 The statement does not provide clear support to initiatives designed to address “loss and damages” in developing countries (although this was one of the breakthroughs of the last COP) and fails to reaffirm the commitment made by all OECD members to dedicate 0.7% of their GNI to Official Development Assistance (ODA).

The much-needed commitment to “promoting quality, reliable, sustainable, and resilient infrastructure investment, including through the G20 Principles for Quality Infrastructure Investment and the G7 Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment” is put in question by the pursuit of restrictive monetary and financial policy.

 It is regrettable that ministers, in referring to the OECD’s role in promoting free and cross-border data flows, do not acknowledge the need to ensure protection of individuals’ data. The promotion of cross-border data flows must not be used to water down national privacy and data protection laws.

The support for the OECD Declaration on a Trusted, Sustainable and Inclusive Digital Future is welcome. It contains many important commitments including to “a human-centric and rights-oriented digital transformation” and “working … with all stakeholders to promote a safe, secure, inclusive and sustainable digital environment”.

The reaffirmation of the 2019 Recommendation on Artificial Intelligence is positive as the Recommendation encourages governments to “take steps, including through social dialogue, to ensure a fair transition for workers as AI is deployed” and “ensure that the benefits of AI are broadly and fairly shared.” TUAC believes that the OECD’s role in AI should not only be to help ensure AI “drives innovation” and respects “human rights” as the statement says, but to ensure that AI leads to greater prosperity in an inclusive and sustainable way.

The commitment to “address the current and emerging opportunities and challenges presented by the twin green and digital transitions” and in that context to build “equitable education and skills systems and to supporting more women and girls including in accessing the STEM sector”.  But education and skills systems are only part of an inclusive digital and green transition, and must be accompanied by active labour market policies, comprehensive social protection coverage and job redesign schemes and social dialogue. An inclusive transition to a digital economy goes beyond supporting women and girls in accessing the STEM sector and involves tackling the ways in which digitalisation may exacerbate existing and drive new inequalities.

For the full Ministerial statement see

For the revised OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises on Responsible Business Conduct see