L20 spoke out for pro-growth strategies to ensure jobs and inclusive growth at the G20 Taskforce on Employment meeting (22 – 24 July 2014, Brisbane, Australia)

The third session of the G20 Taskforce on Employment (TFE) meeting taking place from the 22 to 24 July came at a crucial moment to define the outcomes of this year’s presidency on jobs and growth. The meeting held in Brisbane is set only 4 months before G20 Leaders will arrive there for their summit. Time for decisions on comprehensive G20 actions is running fast. The G20 Labour Ministerial in September will be decisive in paving the way for new policies (or not). This TFE meeting was an important occasion for the L20 to outline the labour movements’ priorities going into the drafting phase of G20 statements and policy proposals.

The ACTU represented the L20 at the consultation with other G20 ‘engagement groups’ (B20, Y20, C20 and T20), followed by a session on ‘safer workplaces’, and focused on what should be in the Labour Ministerial Declaration coming out of the meeting in September.

The L20 Priorities were circulated widely before the TFE and include clear-cut proposals for substantive policy changes going forward:
(1) The view that fiscal and monetary policies in place are exhausted, and that so-called ‘structural policy’ is the only option remaining to achieve an additional 2% growth over the next 5 years, is defeatist. The dire global economic situation and an alarming jobs and unemployment crisis demand concerted pro-growth macroeconomic policy settings. The L20 therefore continues to call for pro-growth macroeconomic policies with jobs targets including for youth, women and vulnerable groups in general. An inclusive job-rich recovery is essential for sustainable and balanced growth. At this point, the link between jobs plans, and the work of the TFE, and growth plans, hence the work of the G20 Finance Track, must be re-established and enforced to ensure policy coherence. Accordingly, the L20 called for a Labour and Finance Ministers meeting in 2015 under the Turkish Presidency.

(2) More austerity is more bad medicine. Economies must invest to grow, for near-term jobs and longer-term productivity, including quality training and apprenticeships (on which the IOE-BIAC / ITUC-TUAC jointly presented findings from surveys sent to G20 affiliates in pursuing the L20/ B20 work on scaling up quality apprenticeships).

(3) Taking the road towards inclusive growth is the only way to go by raising the wage share, bolstering demand at the bottom of the income distribution, creating decent work and better jobs, raising minimum wages and supporting collective bargaining; and investing in infrastructure. The L20 will present findings on the effects of a policy mix that includes raising the wage share in GDP and public investments in infrastructure before the Labour Ministerial in September to show how the G20 2% growth target over the next 5 years can be achieved in a socially and economically sustainable way that also meets the challenge of achieving a Just Transition in a climate challenged world.

At the meeting, the L20 representative also raised awareness for other key policy areas including the need for social protection floors and safer workplaces, government support for the transition from informal to formal employment, and for the strengthening of social dialogue and labour standards worldwide.

Safer Workplaces

The general session was followed by a discussion of ‘safer workplaces’ based on the work done in the G20 TFE Safer Workplaces subgroup that was recently set up and includes the L20 and the B20. At the meeting, the L20 representative repeated calls for (1) stronger recognition of ‘Social Partners’ in the work on Occupational Health Safety (OHS); (2) the need for effective national legislation and enforcement; (3) the identification and inclusion of existing instruments such as ILO OHS-related conventions and recommendations, and those applying to Multinational enterprises (MNEs), such as the OECD Guidelines for MNEs, the ILO Tripartite declaration of principles concerning multinational enterprises and social policy (MNE Declaration) and the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights in future joint work between the G20 governments, social partners and international organisations, such as the ILO and the OECD; (4) prevention and inspections, as well as awareness raising, where social partners play a vital role.; (5) referencing of workers’ rights, as these are enablers to safer workplaces, including their application to workers in irregular forms of employment; (6) the inclusion of supply chains in this work stream. The L20 will continue to work on this issue with G20 partners leading up to Brisbane and beyond.

See our proposals in more detail here.