the occasion of the Third Trade Union Summit, parallel to the Ministerial
Meeting of the FTAA in Belo Horizonte on the 12th and 13th of May 1997,
representatives of the trade union organizations of the Americas, affiliated
and fraternal organizations of the ORIT/ICFTU and a number of important
social organizations have had the opportunity of sharing our respective
work on the social dimension of integration.
a part of this meeting, the trade union movement has reviewed the joint
text prepared by networks of organizations from Mexico, the United State,
Canada, Chile and El Salvador and presented to U.S. President Clinton during
his recent tour of Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean and signed
by other organizations.
an example of the will to achieve an effective complementarity between
the perspectives and actions strategies of the trade union movement and
other social movements, we have approved this declaration based on the
aforementioned document and on the trade union experience acquired in the
various subregional processes of integration. Therefore this declaration
can be seen as complementary to that of the III Trade Union Summit.
should be no FTAA if it is to be converted into an agreement similar to
other existing agreements such as NAFTA. We need an agreement which promotes
genuine development for all of the peoples of the hemisphere; one that
recognizes and attempts to reduce the differences in levels of development;
one that allows for integration of our economies, based on democratically
determined national development models; and one that is based on a consensus.
Strong national economies must be the basis for a strong continent. We
are proposing an agreement designed for sustainable development rather
than for trade liberalization.
agreements are not an end in themselves, but rather a means toward combatting
poverty and social exclusion for achieving just and sustainable development.
We do not support isolationism or traditional protectionism. We are not
nostalgic for the past. We are looking forward and we have viable proposals.
We know that our economies cannot be isolated from the dynamics of the
world economy, but we do not think that free trade is the solution. The
problem is that free trade involves more that the opening of borders; it
involves the abandonment of national development models and poses a serious
threat to democracy.
national development model, to be viable, must take into account trade
and world economic conditions. It must also build on each nationís potential
and develop a strategy to establish its unique position in the world. It
has never been demonstrated that the market achieves optimal distribution
of resources and the fruits of development. So-called free trade is actually
trade regulation that increases the advantages of international capital,
speculative or not, over productive investment, and over the rights and
well-being of workers.
should be no FTAA if it does not include a social agenda that contains
at least the following fundamental elements.
was a first step toward complementary work between trade unions and other
social organizations, which could be made more concrete at the time of
the Second Summit of Heads of States of the Americas next March in Santiago,
Chile with the convening of a Peoplesí Summit of the Americas, in order
to build a hemispheric social alliance. Towards that end, in the coming
months, we must establish mechanisms of communication and coordination,
draw new organizations into the initiative, exchange joint proposals, and
participate together in activities linked to these goals.
must be broadly-based citizen participation in the negotiation of any agreement,
and its ratification must occur in each country through genuinely democratic
for our countries must not be based on the exploitation of workers and
social dumping. The current tendency towards downward harmonization of
working conditions and wages must be stopped, promoting instead an upward
harmonization of labour conditions over the medium term and a recovery
of wages. The starting point should be ILO conventions that guarantee freedom
of association, collective bargaining, prohibition of child labour and
forced labour and no discrimination based on sex, race or religion. Moveover,
we demand a Charter of Social and Economic Rights for Citizens of the Americas
accompanied by democratic and transparent enforcement mechanisms.
agreement must include respect for and improvement of the social and economic
rights of workers, women who have suffered the greatest impact caused by
restructuring of production, campesinos, indigenous peoples and migrant
should be no FTAA if it does not also include protection and improvement
of the environment, ensure respect for the rights of migrant workers and
place special attention on food security, and therefore, on the protection
and support for campesinos, small-scale farmers, and the social sector
without subsidizing large agribusiness corporations. It should also protect
and promote micro and small urban enterprises, because of their capacity
for generating employment.
should be no FTAA if it does not protect people from the vulnerability
and instability caused by speculative capital and fly-by-night investments.
Chile, despite the fact that it is the Latin American pioneer in free trade
has protections on portfolio investment: authorization is required; a percentage
must be deposited in the Central Bank; and it must be held in the country
for a minimum period. Regarding foreign investment, performance requirements
must be negotiated with regulation that protects labour rights. Intellectual
property, which is primarily held by large corporations, should be protected,
but not at the expense of global progress toward a social dimension, including
national sovereignty. The subject of foreign debt must also be taken up
again, as it continues to reduce the ability of governments to act in key
areas of development, such as housing, health, education and environment.
trade issues, the problem of non-tariff barriers must be resolved. The
elimination of non-tariff barriers to legitimate trade should not be confused
with lowering sanitary and phytosanitary barriers for environmental protection.
The interaction of our economies should support national integration of
productive linkages, for which we demand rules of origin with national
will work in our respective countries to defeat any agreement that is not
consistent with these demands.
Declaration remains open to endorsements by other trade union and social
May 15, 1997.
Action Network on Free Trade (RMALC)
for Responsible Trade (ART-US)
Network for a Peoplesí Initiative (RECHIP)
Association of NGOs (ABONG)
for Justice in the Maquiladoras (US)
Indigenous Council of Mexico
Union El Barzon (Mexico)
Québécois sur líintégration continental
des syndicats nationaux (CSN - Québec)
Association of Labour Lawyers