ITUC OnLine – October 27, 2011


LIBYA:  The Road Ahead

Brussels, 27 October 2011 (ITUC OnLine):  With the formal “declaration of liberation” by Libya’s interim leaders on 22 October, the enormous task of building a democratic and just society, and an economy which delivers decent work and economic security for Libyans and foreign workers alike, can begin.  The interim authorities, and the international community, bear a heavy responsibility to ensure that the legitimate aspirations of the people are fully realised, in line with international standards and the rule of law. 

The road ahead for Libya must be based on democratic government, respect for the fundamental principles of international law including freedom of association and expression, full equality between men and women and protection from discrimination, and the evolution of civil society, including democratic and representative trade unions.  These principles must underpin the two stage process, announced by the interim authorities, of developing a new Constitution and holding Presidential and Parliamentary elections within 20 months.

Given the increasing evidence of atrocities both in the past and during the conflict, urgent action needs to be taken to ensure the full application of the rule of law, with proper investigation of alleged crimes and fair and open trials of those accused.

The ITUC is particularly concerned at evidence that Libyans and migrant workers from sub-Saharan Africa are being subjected to detention and repression for no other reason than the colour of their skin.  The interim authorities must ensure that the human rights of all people in Libya are fully respected, and that in particular the most vulnerable are protected.  At the same time, governments in countries to which people from Libya fled during the conflict must ensure that their rights are also fully respected in line with the relevant international standards.  The destabilising effect of events in Libya on neighbouring countries must also be addressed.

The vast wealth amassed by the Gaddafi dictatorship belongs to the Libyan people.  As much as $200bn dollars is believed to be controlled by the Libyan Investment Authority alone.  The international community must give every possible assistance to the Libyan authorities to trace all the funds invested or appropriated by the former regime and ensure that they are used for the benefit of the people of the country in a fully transparent manner.  In addition, effective measures must be put in place to avoid a “resource grab” by multinational corporations, many of which have done business with the Gadaffi dictatorship over the years.

A new and positive future beckons for the people of Libya; however, the road ahead will be difficult and challenging, with huge internal tensions to be overcome, and the real risk of external interests profiting from the country’s vast wealth at the expense of the people.  Enabling the development of the full range of civil society institutions, including a strong, representative and vibrant trade union movement supported by good labour legislation and social dialogue, will be a crucial factor in ensuring genuine democracy and an economy that delivers for the many rather than the few.

UN Rio+20 Summit Must Deliver Jobs, Poverty and the Environment

Brussels/New York, 27 October 2011(ITUC OnLine): With precarious jobs, unemployment and inequalities rising around the world, the international labour movement today formally tabled its proposals the secretariat of the  sustainable development summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 2012.

“Governments must realise that unless there is a drastic change in the way the world is governed, there is no chance that social equity or environmental protection will be achieved,” said ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow. “The trade union movement is ready to mobilise for a real transformation of production systems, for them to deliver decent work and prosperity while protecting natural resources for future generations”.

At the heart of trade union demands are the need for investment in social protection systems and in green and decent jobs. Also stressed is the need for governments to ensure that key principles such as equity between and within countries, Just Transition, gender equality and a dramatic reduction in financial speculation, form the basis of any discussion on the Green Economy.

“We are concerned at indications that little progress will be made on climate change at the Durban Conference Durban this December.  We are determined to push the multilateral system to protect people and the planet, and to recognise that trade unions are fundamental to this.

The trade union demands for Rio+20 are based on the notion that each measure and decision at Rio+20 must deliver across all the three dimensions of sustainability, as spelt out in a preparatory meeting trade unions held in Madrid, Spain. The ‘Madrid Dialogue’ delivered a first outline of unions priorities for Rio+20 through a debate with members of the UN Panel on Sustainability and representatives from civil society.

“The report of the Madrid Dialogue shows the strong consensus around decent and green jobs, the social protection floor and the need for fair and environmentally-sound taxation policies,” said Burrow. “This dialogue gave us real impetus to push for these proposals in the Rio+20 context.”

The ITUC represents 175 million workers in 308 affiliated national organisations from 153 countries and territories.

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