ITUC OnLine – July 10, 2009

G8: Trade Unions Response to Summit Conclusions
Brussels, 10 July 2009 (ITUC OnLine): The Global Unions’ statement to the G8 L’Aquila Summit ”Putting Jobs and Fairness at the Heart of Recovery: the Role of the G8”, called on governments to confront the jobs, climate and development crises, as working families around the world suffer the effects of the errors of the financial elites.
Instead, the summit’s economic statement “Responsible Leadership for a Sustainable Future” covers a vast range of issues, failing to prioritise the actions that need to be taken to move out of this triple crisis.
“The commitments on employment and social protection are positive, as is the more extensive role given to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the recognition of the worldwide relevance of the tripartite ‘Global Jobs Pact’. But there are no explicit commitments to making the necessary resources available for achieving employment and social protection goals, although the focus on the need to protect the tax base represents a welcome step in this direction,” said OECD-TUAC General Secretary John Evans, who represented the ITUC, TUAC and Global Union Federations at the summit.
On climate change, the G8 countries, for the first time, collectively commit to the objective of limiting the rise of temperature to 2° C. But they fail to set out the medium-term objectives or to address how to move to a low-carbon economy in a manner that is fair to workers and communities dependent on resource-intensive sectors. Five months from the UN climate change negotiations in Copenhagen, G8 countries have still to provide the necessary support to secure the engagement of developing countries.
The most significant outcome of the G8 L’Aquila Summit may turn out to be the accountability mechanism, which will be finalised in 2010, alongside the agreement to report on the steps to be taken to meet the Millennium Development Goals. With several G8 countries cutting their development assistance budgets, including Italy, the G8 host, the question is what difference accountability mechanisms will make without the political will to make the resources available?
The L’Aquila Summit is most probably a transitional event, with the greater participation of countries and international organisations marking a shift to a more representative process. Unions have long-called for more inclusive governance of the global economy, with workers having a seat at the table in key fora such as the G20 and the Financial Stability Board. Attention must now turn to the G20 Pittsburgh Summit in September, which unions are demanding must be a summit focused on jobs, reducing inequality and eradicating poverty. 

ITUC Launches Campaign Against Nuclear Weapons
Brussels, 10 July 2009 (ITUC OnLine): The ITUC is launching today an international campaign for nuclear disarmament, in the lead-up to the critically important United Nations Review of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in May 2010.  A focal point of the campaign is a petition addressed to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon calling for strong and clear conclusions to the MPT Conference, and signing of the treaty by all UN member states.
The campaign is being run in cooperation with the worldwide “Mayors for Peace” group, which covers more than 2,000 cities in over 130 countries.
“Peace and disarmament are founding principles of the ITUC, and while there are positive signs from Russia and the USA on reducing nuclear stockpiles, the international trade union movement is extremely concerned about the prospect of further nuclear proliferation, particularly in North Asia, South Asia and the Middle East.  The only way to deal with this is through multilateral negotiations, and the 2010 NPT Review is tremendously important in that regard,” said ITUC General Secretary Guy Ryder.
There are currently almost 24,000 nuclear warheads in existence, with a destructive power equivalent to 400,000 times the power of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945.  Nuclear arms account for a significant portion of global arms expenditure, which reached an all-time high of US$1.4 trillion in 2008, an increase of 45% over the preceding decade.
The ITUC is also calling for international momentum on other agreements to curb nuclear proliferation and the spread of other weapons of mass destruction, and for effective regulation of the global trade in conventional weapons including light arms, which are responsible for at least 500,000 deaths worldwide each year.
“Success in achieving major cuts in arms spending would free up resources for urgent economic and social spending needs, to help the global economy pull out of the deep worldwide recession which is costing tens of millions of jobs.  Crucially, it would go a long way towards helping the international community meet the UN’s Millennium Development Goals, which look less likely than ever to be achieved.  Dealing with the root social and economic causes of conflict to avoid further wars would be far more feasible if the sufficient development aid funds were available,” said Ryder.
The ITUC campaign also stresses the vital importance of ensuring that the transition from military to socially-useful expenditure be done in a way which supports and protects the livelihoods of those working in the arms industry, through “just transition” measures along similar lines to the adjustments needed to tackle climate change.
Copies of the petition and other information resources can be found on the campaign website.
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