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TUAC Reaction to the OECD Ministerial Council 2020 – At last, OECD regains collective voice in response to the Covid-19 crisis

29 October 2020

The OECD’s Ministerial Council Meeting gathered virtually on 28-29 October. For the first time in three years, OECD members agreed on a statement recognising the importance of working in cooperation with social partners in the recovery. This could not be more timely as many countries are now facing the second pandemic waves due to the spread of the Covid-19 virus and the deepest economic and employment crisis since the second world war.

The Ministerial Statement is a sign of collective responsibility and solidarity. It is a sign that the OECD is indeed more than the sum of its 200 expert committees and can deliver an integrated approach to current challenges. This was achieved under the leadership of the Spanish Government, chairing this year’s MCM.

The TUAC called on to agree on a ‘Roadmap for fair and sustainable recovery that people can trust’ ahead of the meeting and stil believes that the organisation is best positioned to do so in the coming months.

We welcome the collective effort by OECD governments to find ways out of the greatest health and economic crisis of our time. We see an unprecedented fall in global GDP and a massive increase in unemployment. Unless governments take coordinated action, the middle class and the most vulnerable ones of our society will not recover. Governments need to maintain support to our economies and societies and engage with unions and employer groups. Social dialogue and collective bargaining are existential. So is re-building multi-lateralism. Given the inequalities our crises are revealing, we cannot just recover, we must commit to restructure to ensure growth will be inclusive, green and resilient.

— said Richard Trumka, President of TUAC and the AFL-CIO

In its statement, the OECD calls for maintaining sustainable fiscal and monetary stimuli “to support jobs restart hard-hit economies, support jobs, promote clean technology development, and sustainable, quality infrastructure while increasing new opportunities for those adversely affected by the pandemic”. This is important to safeguard jobs now through job retention schemes and for the next generation.

The commitment to implement the revised OECD’s Jobs Strategy is crucial. It is the first official endorsement of the Strategy after its adoption at the 2018 Ministerial. As a reminder, the Strategy openly recognizes the value and benefits of labour market institutions such as minimum wages, collective bargaining, job protection and unemployment benefit systems. The TUAC calls on the OECD and its members to follow these recommendations when implementing recovery plans.

Finally, the OECD made strong statements on gender sensitive policy outcomes, the need for a green recovery and for international cooperation and coordination to tackle the cross-border dimensions of the crisis including trade and to continue supporting developing countries. Ministers also reiterated their commitment to find a solution to the tax challenges of the digitalisation of the economy by mid-2021.

This MCM is closing a cycle for the OECD under the leadership of Angel Gurria and opens the door to a new era for the Organisation with the appointment of a new Secretary General and a new “Vision Statement” in 2021. The TUAC acknowledges the accomplishments by Angel Gurria in bringing the OECD closer to a truly inclusive approach to growth. As we move ahead, the TUAC will expect strong commitments on the Future of the OECD: (i) no compromise on human and labour rights, (ii) policy coherence throughout the Organisation’s 200 or so committees and (iii) consolidate the recent acquis on the Jobs Strategy and social dialogue.

— said Pierre Habbard, General Secretary of TUAC

It is reassuring that the OECD regained its collective voice back. Now, it is time to put words into actions.