I picked up this document from a website http:/summit.sid.dk/ on November
21, 1997, having been alterted to it by a reference in an international
trade union magazine. This
was, apparently, the main document presented to the Labour Summit mentioned
below. But when I checked it I found that the titles and subtitles on the
front page did not match section heads in the document. I have there made
an attempt to re-number them - without being certain I have got it right.
But it does make this important document more accessible to possible readers.
hope to later make time to give the document the critical attention it
deserves. Other related materials, some equally interesting can be found
on the website. Unfortunately, the site now appears to be inactive. I have
not managed to get a response from the site manager. So I still donít know
who actually wrote the document, and whether the conference organisers
are planning to take the debate further.
am hoping to place this item in the discussion pages of the LabourNet website,
and also hoping it will be picked up and further spread from there.
am, finally, toying with the idea of trying to organise a seminar or conference
on new labour movement responses to globalisation, maybe mid-1998. Contact
me if interested. In the meantime, maybe we could have an electronic discussion?
New Global Agenda
and Strategies for the 21st Century
Global Labour Summit
31.May - 1. June 1997
by Poul Erik Skov Christensen , President of the SiD - the General Workers'
Union in Denmark
One : Background
1. A global revolution on the verge of the 21st century
2. The crucial role of Transnational Companies
3. Deterioration of workers' rights
4. More poverty and a further polarisation between rich and poor
5. Feminisation of poverty
6. The neoliberal wave
7. The labour movement on the defensive
8. A new global agenda
Two : Proposals for a new global strategy
1. Build strong, independent, democratic and representative unions
2. Build unity nationally and internationally - a mass international
Three: Strategic alliances
1. Political alliances
2. Alliances with NGOs
3. The informal sector
Four: The struggle for human rights
1. Workers' rights
1. Reform, restructuring and strengthening of the Ilo
2. A global campaign for the inclusion of workers' rights in the WTO
2. Women's rights
3. Children's rights and a global campaign against child labour
Five: How to cope with the Transnational Companies
A common strategy
Export Processing Zones
The political consumer / the political enterprise
Six: Trade and development
2. Development policies
3. The environment and occupational health and safety
4. UN policies
5. The debt crisis and Structural Adjustment Programmes
Seven: Information and media strategy
Eight: Seeking a viable alternative to neoliberalism with focus on social
development and equity
by Poul Erik Skov Christensen
President of SiD, the General Workers' Union in Denmark
present document "A new global agenda" is the result of SiD, the
Workers' Union in Denmark's Global Labour Summit which was held in Copenhagen,
Denmark on the 31st of May and 1st of June, 1997.
purpose of the document is to focus on central issues in connection with
globalization, and it is first and foremost the objective as labour
to give a global proposal for visions and strategies for the 21st century.
is also the objective with "A new global agenda" to strengthen the role
of the labour movement internationally and in the various countries with
some proposals for the future where the task will be to put people, the
environment, democracy and social development on the agenda. A task which
the market forces cannot handle. On the contrary, it requires solidarity
and common solutions in each country and worldwide between countries.
the document it is our ambitious goal that we - together with the
that the ICFTU - the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions -
and the International Trade Secretariats already have taken and take -
can contribute to setting the agenda for the next century.
Global Labour Summit was not a formal democratic forum in the
trade union / labour movement - nor a congress. Therefore, formally it
is also only SiD as organiser that can be responsible for the content,
but from the debate at the Summit it was obvious that there was a broad
consensus on the document which has been prepared by an international preparatory
is our hope that " A new global agenda" can be a useful tool for the
movement in the various countries and jointly internationally in
to set the agenda for the 21st century.
A global revolution on the verge of the 21st century
revolution is taking place on the verge of the 21st century. A
revolution - comparable only to the industrialization process in the last
century - yet more comprehensive and faster than anything we have experienced
technological revolution that has taken place during the last 10 to 20
years has meant an unprecedented development in the field of transport,
communication, and the media. The drastic liberalization of capital movements
and of trade which began in the 80s was further enhanced with the collapse
of the Berlin Wall. With the end of the Cold War the traditional blocks
disappeared and the road was open for a further globalization of the market.
A completely new economic and political system came into existence. New
countries adhered to market economy and opened up their markets to international
trade. The world has become one big market where competitiveness is the
order of the day. In reality, trade policy has taken over the role that
security policy had in the Cold War days. Regional economic blocs such
as NAFTA, the European Union and ASEAN have become leading actors on the
The crucial role of Transnational Companies
new structures are emerging within companies, who must seek new alliances,
joint ventures or subcontractors abroad in order to survive. But
most crucial development in the last decades has been the enormous
of Transnational Companies - TNCs, who have come to play a
economic and even political role. For the TNCs the world has
not only one global market - but one global labour market. With
huge investments - twice the size of the entire development
to developing countries and some of the hugest TNCs with yearly
that can compare in size to the GDP of certain countries - they are
for countries with the cheapest labour and places where fundamental
rights are not respected, thus setting off a downward spiral of
expansion of Export Processing Zones - the paradise for TNCs with cheap
appalling working conditions, no health and safety measures, and no
for even the most basic ILO Conventions - is a clear example of the
of respect of TNCs for basic workers' rights. But it also shows the
between the governments in the host countries and the TNCs and
governments' willingness to sacrifice core labour standards for the
of attracting foreign investors and creating the lowest standard jobs.
Deterioration of workers' rights
has, thus, to a large extent been shaped by, and in the
of, international investors. These investors have found a new
in the elites of the Third World. These voices argue against the
of trade union rights, against the abolition of child labour,
the end to discrimination and against the end to forced labour.
in most of these developing countries have been fighting for
and to win basic rights. Their governments are often ruthless in
disregard for and repression of democratic, human and trade union
They use the argument that they need to defer rights and
in working conditions in order to catch up with "advanced
even in the so-called "advanced" countries with long trade union
we experience a deterioration of labour standards and measures
adopted to weaken or undermine the trade unions for the sake of the
competitiveness. Thus, the governments in these countries are trying
emulate the practices of the developing nations using competition from
developing nations as the excuse for dismantling the rights and working
which workers have been struggling so hard for over a century to
this way governments of different countries are using each other as
for turning back the clock and to undo the hard-won rights and
turning the workers of one country against those of another.
globalization process is altogether undermining the concept of the
state. National policies are becoming more and more dependent upon
trends and decisions taken at international levels without
democratic control. In reality governments are losing their power to
their own national economic and social policies.
More poverty and a further polarisation between rich and poor
the whole, globalization has certainly not meant less poverty or more
in the world - neither within the countries, nor between North and
On the contrary, we have experienced a worldwide economic crisis,
social problems, especially poverty, unemployment, underemployment
social exclusion. We have seen a further polarisation between rich and
with the expansion of prosperity for some accompanied by an expansion
unspeakable poverty for others. Poverty, unemployment and social
that too often result in isolation, marginalization and
In many countries the crime rates have thus reached alarming
of the world's population exists in abject poverty on less than one
a day. More than 700 million people worldwide are not productively
Many are underemployed and millions of young people have little
of ever finding productive work. At the same time we experience an
in the totally unacceptable use of child labour which is one of
most terrible violations of the rights of the child to a decent
and to education.
Feminisation of poverty
economic crisis has hit women especially hard. More women than men live
absolute poverty and the imbalance continues to grow. Furthermore, with
global economic crisis discrimation against women is growing and has in
never been stronger. Millions of women have no access to education
training, health care, income or credit. And the cuts in education,
and other social services have further weakened their chances of a
life. Women get the least skilled jobs and with the growing
they are also the first to lose their jobs and the last ones
find a new one. We are in fact experiencing a feminisation of poverty.
we often see a total lack of understanding of women's role in
and the potential they constitute for the development of their
Disgracefully, we still often find this attitude in the trade
movement as well.
The neoliberal wave
neoliberal wave that has swept the world since the end of the 70s with
on uncontrolled market economy, competitiveness, jobless growth,
privatisations and cutting down on crucial social sectors
certainly only further contributed to the polarisation within and
countries. The neoliberal policies have also often been accompanied
the adoption of anti-trade union legislation, undermining of trade union
and repression of trade union leaders and activists on the spurious
that they represent obstacles to economic development.
the industrialized countries the neoliberal wave was a serious and
attack on the welfare systems.
neoliberal policies followed also by the international financial
such as the IMF and the World Bank have had drastic social
in many developing and transitional countries who continue to
forced to follow the policies imposed upon them in order to get further
to encounter the debt crisis that most of these countries experience.
governments in these countries have lost their autonomy and have no
of deciding the development within their own boundaries. In some new
that have been through years of bloody civil war the policies
the IMF and the World Bank can become a real threat to the
processes, when the broad population becomes more and more
at the lack of development and social improvements.
the neoliberal wave is spent. We have seen that the neoliberalistic
just do not work. The population in an increasing number of
is rejecting these policies and demanding a much more human and
The labour movement on the defensive
collapse of the political and economic systems in the Soviet Union and
and Central Europe at the beginning of the 90s further weakened the
of the conservative policies. Many socialist and labour parties
developing countries were left bewildered and split. In industrialized
Social Democratic / Socialist and labour parties tried to
themselves from the socialist ideology and sought the support of
growing middle class often adhering more and more to the economic
of the neoliberal movement.
and liberal parties did not hesitate to proclaim that no
was now left to political and economic conservatism. And a weak
often split Socialist International - the SI - has not been able to
the forces and to create one big social movement to stand up against
and to face the new globalization process. The SI has been on
defensive, seeking but not finding viable common alternative
unions have also been on the defensive looking for new visions to
their rights in the new globalisation process. We must also admit
disgracefully there is a general tendency towards trade unions being
split, divided politically and often fighting each other rather than
together in their struggle for a common goal. Repressive measures
a growing lack of understanding of the role of trade unions have
weakened the trade union movement. In many countries trade union
has fallen to alarming low levels.
the labour movement was international, but it seems that this
there has been a tendency towards trade unions and labour parties
more concerned with their national issues and seeking national and
international solutions at the very time that power is shifting away
national structures to the international level where transnational
and international financial institutions operate.
time has come to change the development. As trade unions we must use
positive new tendency of rejecting the neoliberalistic policies and the
to make our voices heard for a new global social development, for
and human rights and for the improvement of workers' rights
in the world.
A new global agenda
must never forget that globalization is a social process driven by human
and human interests - and not some natural phenomena imposed upon
Therefore, we are also in a position to shape this globalization
to control and change it to a much more human, socially balanced
sustainable development. A development that is not controlled by the
forces, but controlled by human beings where focus is on people and
activities are a fundamental basis for social progress. But social
cannot be realized simply through the free interaction of market
Public policies are necessary to correct market failures, to
market mechanisms, to maintain social stability and to create a
and international economic environment that promotes sustainable
on a global scale. And such growth must promote equity and social
tolerance, responsibility and involvement.
has come for a turning point. Time has come for the trade unions to
the positive sides of globalization to the advantage of workers and
people all over the world. Time has come to change our own defensive
and to bring ourselves in the offensive nationally and
time has come to make governments live up to their commitments.
development and social justice are indispensable for the
and maintenance of peace and security within and among our
In turn, social development and social justice cannot be attained
the absence of peace and security or in the absence of respect for all
rights and fundamental freedoms." (From the Copenhagen Declaration on
let's also quote from one of the many commitments:
the creation of employment, the reduction of unemployment and the
of appropriately and adequately remunerated employment at the
of strategies and policies of Governments, with full respect for
rights and with the participation of employers, workers and their
organizations, giving special attention to the problems of
long-term unemployment and underemployment of youth, women,
with disabilities, and all other disadvantaged groups and
policies to ensure that workers and employers have the education,
and training needed to adapt to changing economic conditions,
and labour markets;
the goal of ensuring quality jobs, and safeguard the basic rights
interests of workers and to this end, freely promote respect for
International Labour Organization conventions, including those on
prohibition of forced and child labour, the freedom of association, the
to organize and bargain collectively, and the principle of
(From the Copenhagen Declaration on Social Development,
were some of the key declarations and commitments made at the UN
Summit in Copenhagen in March 1995 when governments from all over
world for the first time focused on social development. But the
is how much has been accomplished since then? Have we seen crucial
must be made to live up to their commitments. We must make
and employers realize that the biggest threat to peace today is
the millions of people without a job and social conflicts. They
come to realize the need for a much more equitable development on a
as well as a global level.
the biggest mass democratic movement in the world trade unions must stop
on the defensive and look for positive new visions and strategies to
the scene. It is our duty indeed not only to look at improving
conditions in our sectors and individual countries, but to get
influence on the overall national and global development.
must be able to use the positive perspectives of globalization and use
to the advantage of workers all over the world. With the globalization
there will also be an increased demand from the world population
more social justice, for more equality, for social welfare and for
for democracy and basic human and trade union rights.
to human well-being such as environmental risks have also been
Only global solutions and concerted action at national and
level will be able to help improve our crucial environment.
is an alternative to the neoliberal wave, and there is an alternative
the uncontrolled market forces and a possibility of achieving social
and equal rights and opportunities for everybody in societies based
justice, democracy and the respect for human rights. After all it is a
of men's and women's opportunities in life. We must still believe
prove that democratic socialism is the viable alternative.
must use the technological advances for much more effective interaction
trade union organisations all over the world in order to be able to
cooperation and solidarity and to use each other's experiences. We
take concerted action towards the international media to denounce
of workers' rights and to make our voices heard around effective
campaigns for our rights as workers and human beings.
must look for better cooperation with and influence in political
while at the same time securing our independence as trade unions.
and strategic alliances on specific issues should be sought
NGOs, consumer groups, environmental groups, women's and youths'
must make effective campaigns for the inclusion of workers' rights in
World Trade Organisation, for more effective measures to ensure the
for core ILO conventions, for the right to organise and to have
agreements in Export Processing Zones, for an end to
and for the respect of women's rights as well as campaigns
global child labour.
must use our global strength to force TNCs to have much more ethical and
standards, to respect workers' rights, to have codes of conduct and
accept the establishment of international works councils. TNCs are
vulnerable to consumer pressures, they can be influenced. We must
this new political awareness in consumer groups to force enterprises to
and respect labour standards and to improve working conditions
must establish new global networks for the trade unions and for trade
shop stewards. We must emphasize the need for much more information,
and exchange of experiences between our trade union
and shop stewards around the world concerning collective
must set strategies to influence national and international policies
people-centered and social development and job-creating growth.
tripartite cooperation at national and international levels must
a specific goal.
first and foremost, we must organise and unite - nationally and
- in order to become one huge global labour movement that
be in a position to alter the globalization process towards a global
system that respects democracy and basic human and trade union
we propose to focus on the following eight points for concrete steps
strategies towards the 21st century.
PROPOSALS FOR A NEW GLOBAL STRATEGY
Build strong, independent, democratic and representative unions
is time again to give first priority to organising nationally and
We must build strong, independent, democratic and
unions. In far too many countries unions are only
a very small percentage of the potential members. Even in
countries with long trade union traditions we see the
of organised workers dropping to alarming low levels. In many
employer-instigated unions or employer initiatives with focus on
with personal advantages to workers and on loyalty and
towards the enterprise are appearing with the purpose of
the genuine unions and of undermining our basic principles of
equality and cooperation.
must make workers understand the need to be organized and the role of
trade unions. We must make them accept to pay membership fees in order
secure well-functioning unions who must strive to become self-sufficient
in order to make workers feel a close relationship to the union, they
be able to feel that the union belongs to them and that they are able
participate actively and influence trade union policies. This calls for
democratic, transparent and accountable organisations with
focus must be put on continued information and education activities
all levels of our organisations in order to secure well-trained
regional and local leaders and shop stewards who are able to
to the needs of the members and to involve them actively in the
and activities of the unions.
efforts should be made to set strategies to organise the expanding
sector in developing countries.
is important to build strong independent unions that are not led by a
party or the government. This does not, however, mean that there
be a close relationship to one or more political parties. On the
trade unions are per se also political organisations and they
also have a role to play in shaping the societies in which they
as the biggest mass organisations. Therefore, a relationship of
kind to one or more political parties with the same basic ideology is
in order to get influence on the political scene, on overall
social and labour market policies, in the Parliament and in the
But it must never impede our possibilities of critizicing even
own allies if they fail to implement policies that are socially
and to the benefit of workers.
our efforts to strengthen trade union organisation nationally and
we must be able to use the new communication technology to
an efficient global labour information network through which we
able to cooperate, to exchange information for example on organising
collective agreements, codes of conduct and tripartite
to improve work in the works' councils, to denounce violations
workers' rights, to exchange education programmes and to spread mass
throughout the world on the need and role of trade unions.
global labour information network should not be a centralised,
system, but a network that is coordinated globally, but run and
in a decentralised way.
Build unity nationally and internationally - a mass international social
many countries - industrialized as well as developing - trade unions are
split due to political ideology, religious or ethnic reasons. This
the trade union organisations and only serves the purpose of the
In this way trade unions use their energy to combat each other
of serving their common purpose. The only way that unions can
a real mass organisation representative of the members is if they
in the common struggle for the interest of the workers. And the only
that we can secure that governments take account of trade unions and
they can play a real effective role in the development of their
is if the trade union movement is strong and united. A first step
be common actions to pave the road for unity.
at international level we still see a division between the various
trade union organisations - despite the developments on the
scene the last ten years and the end of the Cold War - and
too many crucial non-aligned trade unions that do not want to adhere to
of the existing international organisations due to political, personal
historical reasons. These divisions must be overcome. For the first time
we have a historic opportunity to overcome our differences and make
big united movement. It is crucial that we take this chance and unite
workers for common actions and campaigns for workers' rights and against
neoliberal policies of governments and international institutions that
our basic principles.
International Trade Secretariats have a vital role to play in their
sectors in order to unite workers across the world and to work for
for trade union rights and better working conditions within their
However, considering their global role to represent workers
the world their human and economic resources should be strengthened.
mergers within the ITS' should be considered in order to have
and more effective organisations.
should be recognized that the ICFTU - the International Confederation of
Trade Unions - and the ITS' have been the first to put globalization
its implications for workers' rights on the agenda. However, we must
strengthen our efforts to bring this debate out of the closed circles
decision-makers in these organisations and to secure that the issue is
up and discussed at every level of our national organisations.
must continue to be critical of our international organisations, and
new ways to meet challenges. We must secure that organisations from
countries have their part of influence on the structures and
It must be secured that women and young people have much better
in the international trade union organisations. We must work
have effective, democratic and representative international trade union
that can really be the voice of millions and millions of
across the world. This is the only way we can build an effective
strong international mass social movement that is able to influence
and international policies and that can make our voices heard and
the question is really whether our national unions, the labour parties,
organisations within the labour movement such as educational and
organisations as well as our international organisations are
geared at present to face the new challenges or whether there is a
need for restructuring of the whole labour movement.
mentioned trade unions are of course also political organisations
with the overall political, economic and social development in
respective countries as well as the global political and economic
is, therefore, vital that trade unions are able to establish alliances
political parties, while at the same time maintaining their
as autonomous organisations.
must also secure influence in these political parties. We have in many
seen a growing lack of confidence in politicians and lack of
in political parties. The organisation percentages are falling to
low standards, while at the same time environmental organisations
other NGOs are able to attract far more support in public opinion. It
a general tendency towards democratic demobilisation which poses a
threat to the basis of democracy.
is crucial that workers organise in political parties and that trade
are able to influence the political process.
also experience how individualism is growing at the expense of our basic
of solidarity and fraternity. Often it is the media with their
on personalities and on specific cases that are able to set the
agenda and not the political parties. This further enhances the
towards the focus on political personalities rather than on
ideology. Today it seems to be more important to have a
political leader, than to focus on ideology or a political
we see a growing tendency towards even labour parties being
predominantly by academics and technocrats who often have no contact
workers and no knowledge or understanding of the problems at the
We must therefore secure that we not only cooperate with the
parties, but that we are able to influence them from the inside by
active in the parties, putting candidates for election at all levels
local, regional and national politics. This is the only way that we can
workers' interests in the political parties.
with political parties should also be strengthened at regional
international levels in order to promote our chances of handling the
of the future.
Alliances with NGOs
are an important voice in civil society. As trade unions we must be
open to enter into strategic alliances not only with our political
but with NGOs such as women's and youth organisations, social
development and human rights, and environment and consumer
who share our general objectives. In many cases these
while focusing on a very few relevant issues are able to make
and more effective campaigns, better to attract international media
and to lobby for their goals than trade unions have been in the
They can become important partners if we are able to secure a good
and to put our objectives as workers on the agenda.
could be in the common struggle for the respect of human rights, for
rights, women's rights, and for specific rights within sectors.
we must also be aware that most NGOs do not have the democratic
that we have in trade unions, nor do they often have a
to respond to. NGO interests can also fluctuate. Therefore we
never rely totally upon these tendencies, but use them as a means of
and strengthening our own struggle.
The informal sector
unemployment grows, so does an already vast informal sector where
are rightless and unprotected. The unemployed, casual workers,
workers and landless peasants, migrant and domestic workers
largely unorganised. National and international trade unions must
strategies to reach out to these millions of workers and assist
in their efforts to become organised.
achieve these objectives, trade unions will have to form alliances with
existing organisations in these sectors, grassroot organisations and
The struggle for human rights
fight for human rights has always been an integral part of the trade
and the labour movement's struggle. Democracy, freedom, justice and
have been the basic values upon which our movement was founded -
that we have considered as fundamental principles in order to
the basic economic, social and political needs of people.
- more than 50 years after the end of World War II when the world
in a common demand for peace, democracy and human rights after the
atrocities of the war and almost half a century after the
of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights - we still see how
human rights are violated across the world.
dictatorships, despotic and autocratic regimes are still in power
many parts. Poverty and unemployment deprive millions of people of their
dignity and their most basic rights. Hundreds of millions of people
lack minimally acceptable levels of education, health and nutrition
more than one billion people in the world live in abject poverty. And
majority of these are women.
wars and conflicts throw millions of people into the search for
and better places to live. At the same time many countries in the
world - where intolerance, xenophobia and racism are
to show their ugly faces - close their borders and strengthen
asylum policies to keep out the poor masses who could threaten their
and economic rights, workers' rights, women's rights and children's
are today generally accepted as being part of the fundamental human
- at least in theory. Today we have more than 20 UN Conventions on
human rights including the two central UN Conventions on
social and cultural rights as well as civic and political rights,
many special conventions on discrimination based upon gender, race and
as well as all the ILO Conventions on workers' rights.
and neoliberalism further threaten to undermine human rights.
we have mentioned, it has certainly not meant more equality neither
or between nations. Furthermore, there is a general tendency towards
undermining of workers' rights in the name of "free market" ideologies
positive aspect of globalisation is that due to the global media today
is much easier to spread news of human rights violations and to raise
awareness about these cases which again has pushed politicians to
more seriously regarding human rights violations. The respect of human
has, thus, in a large number of countries become an important part
the political agenda.
trade unions we must keep setting human rights at the top of our agenda
use all possible means to push our political allies to take up the
We must make our governments live up to their obligations and
the commitments they have made at the many UN Summits and
must enhance our basic principles that democracy and transparent and
governance are indispensable foundations for the realization of
and people-centered sustainable development. We must keep stressing
social development and social justice are indispensable for the
and maintenance of peace and security within and among our
and that economic and social development as well as environmental
are interdependent and mutually reinforcing components of
development. Social and economic development cannot be secured
a sustainable way without the full participation of women and equality
justice between men and women must be a priority for the international
must push our political allies to focus on these issues and look at
instruments that could be used in the common struggle for the
of fundamental human rights including workers' rights.
question of possible reactions towards countries that grossly violate
human rights certainly involves the discussion of trade and human
- a discussion that has been at the forefront the last years in many
Disgracefully, we must admit that where big economic interests
at stake, most governments are willing to forget about the human rights
and prefer to use the much more pragmatic "critical dialogue" or
we know how little effect this has had on dictatorships like Burma
Iran. Just recently we saw that it was not even possible to raise
on a condemnation of the human rights situation in China.
interests and investments were far more important issues at stake
possibilities for reactions vary from classical diplomatic reactions to
reactions. The basis must be an assessment of the nature and
of the violations of human rights and which reactions will have most
Crucial is also the opinion of the opposition in the country in
Are they calling for international sanctions as the only possible
to stop the violations of a dictatorship or do they prefer a further
and interaction with other countries?
all know that international reactions for example sanctions adopted in
UN are the most effective. The lack of such international reactions or
impossibility to reach consensus on such steps should, however, not
individual countries in reacting. A reaction by one or a few
can very well be that first step necessary to focus on the
and, thus, pave the way for international reactions.
of course we must also be aware of the risks implied of both an
and a political nature.
question also raises the debate of whether or not we can interfere in
country's internal affairs, but it does seem that there is a clear
at least in some countries towards the so-called "moral
winning over the non-interventionism concept. And, anyway,
far as the labour movement is concerned, there cannot be any "internal
of states when human rights and democratic rights are involved,
of course, workers' and trade union rights. These are universal
not subject to the interpretation of governments.
trade unions it is our moral obligation all the time to follow the human
situation in the world closely - both nationally in our
and in our international organisations. We must use the media
our networks to denounce violations and to put focus on those countries
abuses take place. We must push our political allies and governments
take concrete steps.
the Social Democratic / Socialist and labour parties must focus
all human rights including social and economic rights and seek to
their reactions within their international organisation, the
International - the SI - which has 150 affiliated parties.
for instruments for human rights:
1. Diplomatic reactions - varying from informal enquiries,
representations, calling back of the ambassador for consultations,
downgrading of diplomatic relations to the closing down of an embassy
and possibly the interruption of diplomatic relations. Postponement or
cancellation of visits.
2. Political reactions - to raise the question of human rights violations
in the relevant regional or international fora - the UN. Each of these
fora have a long range of possible reactions from the adoption of
resolutions to exclusion of the country in question. As well as
economic, political and sports reactions.
and multilateral reactions:
1. Economic sanctions - unilateral or international. From individual
products to general sanctions.
2. Arms embargo. Interruption of possible military cooperation.
Peace-making initiatives following international mandates.
3. Development assistance - reduction or possible interruption of
development assistance. Set conditions for further assistance. Take up
the issue of human rights including workers' rights (for example in
Export Processing Zones) at negotiations with the government in
question. Possible alteration of assistance - i.e. more focus on
democratization or assistance through NGOs to mass organisations
including trade unions, human rights groups. Influence the policy of
the international organisations and institutions (see the paragraph
"Trade and development").
4. We must lobby to have the Collective Complaints Procedure of the
European Human Rights Court signed and ratified by members of the
Council of Europe.
5. Sanctions regarding sports and culture.
6. Mass information and hearings to influence consumers.
7. Legal assistance: for example assist at court cases against opposition
leaders, trade unionists, human rights activists in order to secure
fair trials and public awareness of these trials.
8. Strengthen the cooperation with and assistance to legitimate and
democratic opposition groups and repressed trade unionists in
countries where human rights are not respected.
* Specific rules and conditions for intervention against governments who
are systematically violating human rights including workers' rights
should be adopted in the UN and regional organisations.
* Reform and restructuring of the UN system - less bureaucracy and more
fficiency. Member countries must be obliged to pay their membership
* There should be a much better coordinated policy within the various UN
organisations and international financial institutions where human
rights including social, economic, workers', women's and children's
rights are a basic, integrated part of that policy.
* The ILO's possibilities of specific intervention and eventually
sanctions against countries that violate the core ILO labour standards
should be strengthened.
* Workers' rights should be included in the World Trade Organization
(see specific paragraph on the WTO and workers' rights). The global
efforts to ensure the respect for the seven core ILO Conventions
should be enhanced at every level - national, regional and
* Regional and global sanctions should be adopted against the export of
weapons and other military equipment, the sending out of military
experts or military training to states that grossly violate basic
rich and poor countries alike there are fears of rising insecurity as
change, expanding international interactions and the decline
traditional community structures seem to threaten jobs, wages, and
for the elderly. Nor have economic growth and rising integration
the problem of world poverty and deprivation. Indeed, the numbers of
poor could rise still further as the world labour force grows from 2.5
today to a projected 3.7 billion in 30 years' time.
nearly one billion people around the world, approximately 30%
the entire global workforce, are unemployed or underemployed in
and developing countries alike, according to a new ILO
global economic crisis since 1973 together with the globalization
has meant increased insecurity for workers in the industrialized
where relocation of enterprises to countries with cheaper labour
poor labour standards, deregulations and the flexibilization of the
market are becoming growing threats to those rights that workers
battled for over 100 years to attain.
developing countries weak, repressed and often divided trade unions are
to secure workers minimum rights.
the newly industrialized countries the economic boom has most often been
by a total violation of workers' rights. Only state-controlled
unions are allowed to function and the genuine trade unions that are
to emerge are exposed to all kinds of repression. Typically,
advancement has not been followed by the necessary social equity.
is only through a common global campaign that we can make our voices
for the respect of workers' rights everywhere in the world.
Reform, restructuring and strengthening of the ILO
the only tripartite UN organisation the ILO has a most important role to
The ILO sets the international standards for workers' rights.
ILO's role and supervisory machinery must be strengthened, so as to
it back to the original mandate to defend the rights of workers and
secure that the observance of each convention is systematically pursued
all countries and in all international organisations and institutions.
ILO should be given binding instruments to secure the implementation of
constitutional conventions (Nos. 87 and 98 on the rights of
and collective agreements) and of conventions ratified by the
Today it is far too easy for a country to ratify ILO Conventions
not to live up to its obligations of implementing the content.
must be secured that the various ILO committees work efficiently and are
to cope with the new international situation arising from the
of the market. Trade unions - both national and international
have a role to play to secure that these committees are made workable.
should be introduced to secure that trade unions participating in
ILO Labour Conference and the various Committees are really
unions. Today we experience that some governments are able
to appoint trade unions of their own choice which are not
of the workers to participate, while the genuine unions are
without any influence or possibility of participation.
ITS' should enhance their cooperation with the ILO in order to secure a
of the specific ILO Conventions and the planning of a strategy
the fields of their individual sector.
the WTO Ministers' Conference in Singapore in December 1996 it is
important to secure that the role of the ILO is strengthened in
to the WTO.
A global campaign for the inclusion of workers' rights in the WTO
it was not possible to reach our goal of having workers' rights
in the WTO - the World Trade Organisation - or even to set up a
group to pursue this objective at the WTO meeting in Singapore in
1996, we must strengthen our efforts to achieve this. In the
years up to the next conference in 1998 we must make an effective
and lobbying campaign nationally and globally towards
employers, consumers and even some trade unions to make them
the need for and to accept the inclusion of workers' rights in
trade agreements. Special focus should be put on governments
trade unions from Asia as well as NGOs in general that have been the
reluctant towards the whole concept. It is especially important that
unions and governments from developing countries make it a top
and use their cooperation with other developing countries in order
avoid that it is mainly unions and governments in industrialized
who are calling for the inclusion of workers' rights.
inclusion of workers' rights in trade agreements is necessary because
is an additional instrument which can force countries to enforce
recognized and enforceable labour rights, especially in
where workers' rights hardly exist, are wanting, or where they
simply not enforced. The inclusion of workers' rights or a social
would link social responsibility to trade, thereby rejecting the
and inhuman mercantilist doctrine of trade without any social
social clause would, thus, be an additional instrument for the
of labour rights and an aid in the organisation and education of
It would, however, require a close cooperation between the WTO and
ILO in order to ensure the effective implementation of the workers'
and some effective instruments - whether sanctions, embargos,
or the use of positive actions including assistance for
training and social programmes towards countries that do change
attitude towards workers' rights - in order to be able to react when
rights are violated.
must be stressed that these workers' rights are based upon the seven
* ILO Conventions Nos. 87 and 98 on the rights of organisation and
* ILO Convention No. 29 on forced labour
* ILO Convention No. 105 on the abolition of forced labour
* ILO Convention No. 100 on equal pay for men and women
* ILO Convention No. 111 against discrimination and
* ILO Convention No. 138 on child labour.
fight to include labour standards in the WTO rules centers around these
conventions. They do not include wages or social provisions, and
are they about attacking the low wage comparative advantages of
less developed economies. It should also be stated that these
are not about protectionism, but are about making sure that
is fair and not at the expense of workers' fundamental human
must, therefore, redouble our efforts to lobby governments to make sure
these core conventions are enshrined in the WTO and that they are
by a procedure for multilateral sanctions at the WTO.
campaign focusing on these seven conventions does not diminish the
of other conventions such as ILO Convention No. 135 (workers'
in the enterprise) which ensures the representation of
by legitimate institutions and organisations.
it is also important to make full use of existing WTO mechanisms
exert maximum influence in support of the rights of workers.
some countries the principle of tripartism - i.e. government, employer
trade union cooperation - is well-advanced and secures trade union
an effective platform to influence national policies. This is
well-known phenomenon in the Nordic countries.
are other positive examples of effective tripartite cooperation.
the National Economic, Development and Labour Council in South
should be mentioned. In NEDLAC all macro-economic, developmental,
labour market policies must be debated in tripartite committees and in
areas even with the participation of civic organisations before being
in Parliament. This enables trade unions to deal with the much
overall policies affecting the whole development of their societies
not just bread and butter issues or their specific sector-related
However difficult this cooperation sometime appears, it does give
unions a voice in society and huge possibilities of getting
many countries tripartite fora have been established merely to fulfill
from the ILO. Governments and employers do not respect the trade
participation, and the fora end up being just some kind of cover
Clear examples have been seen in various Central American countries.
must make active efforts to force governments and employers to accept
tripartite institutions. As representatives of a large section of
population trade unions must have a say on overall policies as well as
specific sector policies. This of course also requires that trade unions
able to live up to their obligations. It requires comprehensive
activities for trade union leaders in order to be prepared to face
and employers on difficult issues.
is also crucial that trade unions are not always on the defensive but
in a position to come up with viable alternative policies and
This will require extensive research and analysis activities
the trade unions.
is, however, vital that trade union organisations are able to involve
members actively in the overall policies they are engaged in. This
require continued information and education activities in order not to
the gap between the membership and the trade union leadership. Local
and shop stewards must always be in a position to understand, to
and to defend their union's policy.
should, nonetheless, also be stressed that there are certain dangers in
with tripartite cooperation at overall level. It is important to
trade unions' independence. Trade unions may at some point be at
of being bound to and made responsible of certain political decisions
might be against their general objectives.
at international level is in reality only recognized in the ILO
the International Labour Organisation. As the biggest democratic mass
in the world, trade unions should be engaged much more in overall
at international level. For example in the WTO - the World
Organisation - which so far is completely dominated by governments
are deciding the fate of millions and millions of workers around the
It would only be reasonable if the WTO were a tripartite
with representatives of the social partners as well as
It is after all the organisation setting the framework for
trade - one of the most important economic and political issue in the
after decades of focusing on women's rights and many international
calling for equal rights and opportunities for women,
against women has never been stronger. Globalization has
not meant better conditions for women. On the contrary, women are
most affected by the changing labour markets, by the unemployment and
deregulations. They get the least skilled jobs, they are the first ones
lose their job and the last to get a new one, and equal work is by no
rewarded by equal pay with men.
more and more women are joining the labour market, they are also
ones who mainly work in the new bastions of globalization in the
countries - namely the informal sector, the export processing
and home working, where they are exposed to harsh working conditions,
sexual abuse and fierce anti-union repression.
the role of women in society is consistently underestimated.
is, thus, still an urgent need to change men's and society's attitude
neoliberal policies and structural adjustment programmes carried out in
developing countries and economies in transition have hit women
hard with their privatizations and cutting down on crucial
like education, health care and social programmes.
is in a way ironical and really proves the lack of coordination of
within the UN system and the emptiness of the many declarations
commitments at Summits and conferences, that while we in some fora and
organisations keep focusing on gender issues and the need for
and health care facilities as one of the best means of
girls' and women's situation across the world and thus to promote
socially balanced development, structural adjustment programmes with the
opposite policy and objectives are carried out in so many countries -
the most negative consequences for women.
rights are human rights - as it was established so clearly at the
Women's Conference in 1995. Therefore, women and gender aspects
be an integrated part of all policies and planning activities at all
Trade unions have a most important role in securing the follow up
the Beijing Women's Conference and the adoption by governments and
organisations and institutions of plans of action to
the many commitments. Focus should be put on:
* Equal rights and opportunities for women
* Equal access to education, training and health care
* Secure women's reproductive health
* Secure paid maternity leave
* Provision of child care facilities
* Equal pay for equal work
* Access to income and credit
* Promotion of women's participation in decision-making positions
* Steps against sexual harassment and violence against women.
the trade union movement we certainly also still have a long way to go
industrialized as well as in developing countries and in the
organisations. Trade unions are still dominated by men and
often not enough focus is put on women workers' special situation and
Trade unions must realize the enormous potential there is in
workers and improve their efforts to promote equal rights and
for women. Trade unions need to look at their structures and
to make sure that these rather than hinder the participation of
enable them to play a full part.
focus should be put on training activities for women in the trade
Women's committees should be established. It is, however, crucial
these women's committees do not end up like parallel committees
any influence in the unions, but that they are taken seriously by
leadership and the organisation as such and that they are an integrated
of the organisations with direct relation to the decision-making
Gender perspectives and women's special problems should,
be an integrated part of all trade union training activities
order to be able to change men's attitude towards women.
women should be represented in the decision-making bodies of the
Quota systems could be used to promote this tendency and women must
encouraged to run for leadership positions at all levels through
awareness-building, training and education activities.
rights such as equal pay, maternity leave, child care facilities
be an integrated part of trade unions' demands in collective
and focus must be put on women workers' special situation and
conditions in areas such as the export processing zones, home
and the informal sector.
and global trade union activities for women should be promoted in
to establish networks across borders and continents to exchange
to strengthen women's awareness and self-consciousness and to
on many of the same problems that women are experiencing everywhere
must make alliances with NGOs and women's organisations in order to
the continued focus on women's rights and the follow up to the
at the Beijing Conference.
our campaign for the inclusion of workers' rights in the WTO which would
the ILO Conventions against discrimination and on equal pay we must
on the need for the recognition of women's rights and their crucial
in society. Workers' rights in the WTO could mean a giant step forward
our struggle against centuries of discrimination against women.
Children's rights and a global campaign against child labour
to ILO estimates some 200 to 250 million children under the age
15 are working in the world today. This is simply unacceptable. It is
result of employers' greed and pursuit of profit at all costs, as well
governments' acceptance and the complacency on the part of all of us.
unions must make active efforts to denounce child labour and to make
national, regional and global campaigns against the use of child
The aim is the elimination of child labour.
have a right to a decent childhood and to education as established
the basic UN Convention on the Rights of the Child from 1989 and in the
Convention No. 138 on the Minimum Age for Workers from 1973. A child's
is at school and not at the workplace. Children are the whole basis
our future societies and the education of our boys and girls alike is
most important condition for establishing a viable socially equitable
many trade unions close their eyes to the problem and are reluctant to
with the matter, because it is not their sector or it could affect
members or potential members, because children often make a
contribution to relieving the extreme poverty of their
But as trade unions we must accept as a basic principle that
labour cannot be tolerated and that we must use every means to have
abolished while focusing on the need for compulsory education for all
and on the creation of jobs for adults.
is obvious that one of the best methods to combat child labour is to
strong representative trade unions. This again enhances the need to
and to build a strong democratic and united trade union movement
is in a position to influence national and international policies and
make collective agreements with the employers.
we propose to focus on:
* Investigations: It is crucial to investigate the exact extent of child
labour and the conditions under which children are working.
* Massive information about all sorts of child labour, awareness-raising
and campaigns at every level for the enforcement of UN and ILO
* Extensive use of the media and international communication networks to
denounce governments that allow child labour and employers who use
children as workforce.
* The creation of special units or committees within our trade unions at
local, national, regional and international levels to deal with child
labour, to establish contact with the children who are working, to
promote educational and training programmes, to inform them of their
rights and of the trade unions' role and to develop alternative
strategies to avoid child labour and to promote job creation for adult
* To establish networks with NGOs in order to promote the struggle
against child labour and to raise consumer interest and actions.
* To lobby with political parties and governments for the ratification
of the relevant UN and ILO Conventions and their implementation, i.e.
active steps towards the elimination of child labour, compulsory
education and job creation for adults, and to report every violation
to the ILO Committee of Experts, the Working Group on Contemporary
Forms of Slavery and to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child.
* In development assistance programmes to focus on the need for
compulsory education and for special educational and training
programmes for children who are working. The industrialized countries
should take up the issue of child labour in their annual consultations
with governments from developing countries.
* The inclusion of workers' rights in the WTO which would mean an
important step in the struggle against child labour.
* Lobbying and campaigns towards enterprises and TNCs to have collective
agreements and codes of conduct.
* Trade unions should lobby in the preparation of the new ILO Convention
on Child Labour to ensure that any new convention supports and
complements Convention No. 138.
How to cope with the Transnational Companies
expansion of the Transnational Companies and their global investments
one of the most fundamental characteristics of globalization. Today
are some 39,000 TNCs led by Shell, Nestlé and General Motors that
one third of the world's production and that were behind the ever
direct foreign investments, which in 1995 rose to 135 billion
Some 30% of these investments were placed in new production sites
developing countries, especially in South East Asia.
to the World Bank TNCs control 70% of the world trade and more
one third of this trade takes place within these global production
is an increasing tendency towards the formation of big conglomerates
the on-going mergers and alliances between TNCs. This means a further
of power and bigger market shares for the big TNCs who are
genuine enterprise empires that are gaining enormous power to
the economic conditions and the fates of millions of people - a
that is able to influence the policies of governments, international
and financial institutions - and a power that is totally
of popular control.
nations and regions are entering into a harsh competition in
to attract the investments of TNCs, thus competing on a
of the labour market, deregulations, lowering of labour
minimizing of enterprise taxes, investment deductions etc. One
the most outstanding examples is the growing number of Export Processing
that will be further described below.
growing number of subcontractors and franchises makes it more difficult
get a clear picture of the magnitude and extent of the TNCs.
what can we as trade unions do to cope with this development? To cope
the TNCs in order to secure better working and living conditions and
respect for workers' rights for the millions of people employed in or
by the TNCs?
inclusion of workers' rights in the WTO and in regional trade
would of course also in respect of the TNCs be a giant step
treaties based upon ILO Conventions and other international
on labour rights and standards should be introduced at regional
for example in the EU, NAFTA, MERCOSUR, SADC and APEC. The social
must be actively involved in the preparation and monitoring of
about respect of fundamental labour rights and ILO Conventions must
added to agreements on trade, economic and other cooperation between
with NGOs and consumer groups should be promoted in order to
from the growing social and political awareness among consumers
are open to pressure from consumers, investors and shareholders. Trade
must learn to make full use of the leverage that this provides them
to alter some of the practices of TNCs.
we cannot rely solely on these measures for the improvement of
conditions in TNCs. It is first and foremost our own task as trade
to set some strategies to be able to think and act globally just as
TNCs have now been doing for years.
A common strategy
* One of the basic and most important tasks is again organising - it
cannot be stressed enough. Only strong trade unions will be able to
influence TNCs. But these organising efforts must also, somehow, be
directed at covering workers in subcontractors, home workers, seasonal
workers, casual workers, migrant workers etc. who have a connection to
the TNCs as well as workers in the Export Processing Zones.
* There is a need to establish some global collective bargaining
procedures. At the same time we must improve our means of actions and
secure a close cooperation and relation between local, national and
* Collective agreements must be negotiated with TNCs wherever they are
operating. Global coordination and cooperation between trade unions in
this respect is crucial. Agreement should be made to seek a role for
collective bargaining on some issues, beyond the boundaries of the
nation-state. An important start can be made through unions
coordinating their strategies within regional economic blocs, to
ensure the levelling up of labour and social standards.
* Efforts should be made to build global shop floor structures. This can
be facilitated through the setting up and strengthening of
international company councils for union representatives. These
councils should seek agreement to guarantee similar trade union
organising facilities and observance of basic labour rights at all
workplaces owned by the companies, irrespective of where they are
* The establishment of Global Works' Councils. Some TNCs have already
accepted this principle for example in the food, metal and banking
sectors. The EU directive on European Works Councils - the EWCs - must
be used to strengthen workers' role and influence in relation to the
1,100 to 1,200 transnational companies that are involved in European
operations. Since also American, Japanese and other international
companies are covered by the EWC directive, workers and the trade
union movement in Europe must strengthen global coordination through
their European and international trade union secretariats, the
European Trade Union Congress (the ETUC) and the International
Confederation of Free Trade Unions (the ICFTU) with the trade unions
in those countries.
in Europe, the EWC work must be used as a platform for the
establishment of Global Works Councils and agreements between
companies and the international trade union movement.
* A campaign should be carried out for specific Codes of Conduct in key
* Efforts must be made to strengthen the education and training
activities for trade union leaders and shop stewards. It is crucial to
have well-trained trade unionists if we want to be able to negotiate
effectively with TNCs and to participate actively as representatives
of the workers in the works councils.
* As the labour market demands increasing numbers of skilled workers,
more focus should be put on the need for vocational training and
governments' and employers' responsibilities to secure these training
* Trade unions must emphasize the need for a safe and healthy working
environment and we must make enterprises feel a moral obligation to
secure this. Health and safety measures must be introduced, trade
unions must have health and safety representatives at workplaces and
funds must be made available for health and safety training
this respect we must keep pushing TNCs to have them accept their
to secure the same health and safety standards in developing
as in industrialized countries.
is also vital to secure that TNCs are not able to export for example
and pesticides that are forbidden in their home countries to
countries where these products most often are being used without
a minimum of safety measures for the workers.
Export Processing Zones
Export Processing Zones - the EPZs - started appearing in the 60s in
and in Mexico. They soon spread to other countries and have further
in numbers with the globalization process. Today they can be
in a very large number of developing countries, in Central and
Europe and also in some industrialized countries.
purpose of establishing EPZs was to attract foreign investors in order
create jobs, to generate income for the country and to increase the
technological capacity. In reality EPZs have been adapted to meet
interest of capital. Their greatest drawback is the absence of workers'
to a recent ILO investigation of EPZs in Central America and the
Republic the first objective of attracting foreign investors has
reached, although in this connection they stress that it is important
focus on the quality of the job, on working conditions and on the labour
in the EPZs. We will come back to this later.
the second objective - the generation of income - the ILO report
that the income from EPZs has not made a substantial contribution to
countries' GDP taking into consideration that EPZs are not a part of
national economy and all the advantages that investors are getting both
the form of tax and customs exemptions and subsidies for export as well
the institutional and infrastructural facilities that the governments
providing for the zones.
last objective - an increase in the national technological capacity -
not been obtained. EPZs remain as closed social and economical areas
any interaction with local companies or producers. Furthermore,
in EPZs usually do not use advanced technology, which means
the workers there do not get any knowledge of new technology either,
could otherwise be used at a later stage in national companies.
establishment of EPZs has been further promoted by the neoliberal
adjustment programmes of the World Bank and the IMF with their
on an export-oriented industrialization.
are enclosed and guarded areas where foreign investors establish their
These foreign investors are allowed to import their raw materials
to export their merchandises without customs. Often they are guaranteed
trade union organisation in the EPZs and get exemptions from
is especially companies from the USA, Korea, Taiwan and some from Europe
are investing in EPZs looking for the low salaries and the lack of
rights or health and safety measures. The most frequent industries
textile, clothing, shoe, leather, tobacco, electronics, radio, TV, soft
and spare parts for cars.
is estimated that some 80% of the workers in EPZs are young women who
work 12 hours a day, 6 days a week under harsh conditions, severe
and without even a minimum of facilities in the workplace. Sexual
and even physical punishment are not unusual phenomena. There
cases of forced family planning in order to avoid pregnancies and even
Honduras in Central America child labour is also being used in the EPZs,
it is very difficult to estimate the global extent of child labour in
due to the lack of accurate data.
mentioned it is typical of EPZs that no trade union activities are
Most often trade union activists will be fired and attempts to
have often been met with police and even military intervention.
we have seen examples in the Dominican Republic, in Honduras
in Nicaragua where trade unions have succeeded in organising workers,
having their union recognized by the government and finally obtaining a
agreement with a company. So it is possible after all.
big dilemma with EPZs is of course that - as mentioned in the ILO
- they do create jobs. And these jobs are badly needed in countries
the unemployment often affects 40 to 60% of the population.
in many of these countries the jobs - however bad the quality
the work is - give young women a chance at becoming economically
for the first time. For the workers it is not easy to start
engaged in trade union activities. They can very easily lose their
And companies often threaten to move to other countries if workers
it is quite unacceptable that workers across the world are working
such conditions and in this way also contribute to the undermining of
rights and standards. But it is only through a comprehensive
organising and lobbying campaign that we can force employers
accept basic workers' rights and to improve the working conditions in
EPZs. In this connection the following steps are proposed:
* Organising activities in the EPZs, information about workers' rights
and training activities (possibly underground activities using social
activities as cover up).
* Regional and global cooperation between trade unions trying to
organise workers in the EPZs / coordination of activities in the
* Mass information campaign about working conditions and the lack of
workers' rights in EPZs locally, nationally, regionally and globally.
Special focus in industrialized countries where there is in fact very
little knowledge of EPZs in order to influence the consumers,
employers and politicians/governments to take concrete action
* Governments in industrialized countries should take up the issue of
EPZs and require respect of workers' rights in their annual
consultations with the governments in developing countries
* Contact to the TNCs involved in EPZs requiring the respect for
workers' rights and codes of conduct.
The political consumer / the political enterprise
mentioned before globalization does have some positive aspects. The
information technology with global media networks and coverage, and
development of the Internet have implied that news from all corners of
world are brought to us. There is more transparency, monitoring and
of what is happening around the globe than ever before.
is bringing about a new awareness and responsibility among consumers,
in industrialized countries. Consumers are becoming much more
in issues like human rights, ecology and social conditions. A
concept is appearing - the political consumer who will demand some
and moral standards from the enterprises from which they have to
constitute an extremely powerful pressure group towards
and also towards politicians. We have seen how threats of
of products have been able to influence the investment policies of
enterprises are beginning to react to this growing awareness in
In the global market where competitiveness is the order of the
and where employers and TNCs are always looking for new market shares,
attitude of consumers is vital. Therefore TNCs are vulnerable and are
to realize the need to develop new strategies and policies.
and ethic standards and a so-called social responsibility is
on the agendas of TNCs and even in international fora such as the
Economic Forum. It is certainly not out of idealistic reasons, but
a pragmatic attitude, the need to create a positive image to satisfy
political consumers. A new form of enterprise is in reality developing
the political enterprise. This could very well be trend-setting.
consumers could become important allies, if we are able to inform
of workers' conditions and of the need to respect workers'
use of social labelling such as Rugmark should be further explored. We
also support, wherever possible, the introduction of properly
codes of conduct.
as stressed before, we cannot rely solely on the new trend in
It fluctuates and often it is depending on the stories that the
chose to focus on. But it can complement our activities and we must
ready to use and influence it if it can strengthen our global struggle
human and trade union rights.
Trade and development
mentioned globalization and the liberalization of trade has not meant
equality between rich and poor, between North and South. On the
there has been a growing polarisation. During the last 30 years
share of the global income of the poorest 20% has fallen from 2.3% to
while at the same time the share of the richest 20% has increased
70% to 85%.
increased polarisation is reflected in the growing differences in
between regions. The percentage of the population living in
is falling in East and South Asia, it seems to stabilize in Latin
and North Africa, while it is increasing in Sub-Saharan Africa. But
in real figures the number of people living in poverty is
every year. If we do not succeed in making the necessary changes
the global development, the total number of poor people in the world
reach 1.5 billion by the year 2025.
there has been a drastic fall in development assistance from
countries, there is also a tendency towards investments
over the role of development assistance. Private investments have
in five years and have grown to 90 billion US dollars. Thus,
have become the greatest source today of external financing of
development in the South.
investments have primarily gone to Asia, where they have grown with
65%, whereas in Sub-Saharan Africa investments have fallen with one
and only make up 2 billion US dollars.
it is the weakest economic and political regions that are hit
hard and are kept outside of development. 47 of the poorest
in the world - and most of these are African - only make out 0.3%
world trade compared to 2.3% in 1960.
liberalizations and regional trade agreements have increased world
and, thus, also global economic interdependency. But not all
will benefit from the world economic expansion. There is a very
risk that those countries that are badly integrated in the world
will be further marginalized.
is especially being expanded between the USA, South East Asia and the
and a closer cooperation is developing between these areas - between the
and APEC, between NAFTA and the EU and between the EU and South East
more developed Third World countries are doing pretty well in the new
market using every method to attract investments - including as we
mentioned before the violation and undermining of workers' rights.
WTO's objective of removing all trade barriers means that the 48 least
countries (mostly African countries) with 570 million people will
forced to open their markets to the products from industrialized
and they can, thus, lose further market shares. The problem is
these countries mostly still depend upon the export of their raw
Furthermore, they are not competitive because of the very low
level, unskilled workers, ineffective production and lack of
these countries to be given a fair chance to compete on reasonable
it would require that the markets in the EU and in other economic
be opened to their products and that they be given substantive
and technical assistance for education, training, technological
how, development of the infrastructure and of industrial production.
so far the promises made to the least developed countries have not been
There are no obligations on industrialized countries in the plan of
adopted at the WTO. It is quite obvious that the WTO is dominated by
big economic powers - the USA, the EU and Japan.
lack of solidarity in the world is unacceptable as it will only lead
further poverty, further marginalisation of countries, more conflicts
wars. We must secure that the poorest developing countries are given
chances. For years we have been saying that trade would be better than
assistance. Now we must say: "more trade and more development
the other hand, in order to guarantee the social dimension of trade, we
* A gradual and sovereign adhesion of countries into trade agreements.
* The democratization of negotiations with participation of workers and
other sectors of society, and guarantee final approval of agreements
by democratic structures.
* Adoption of social charters in the agreements, guaranteeing the
respect for basic labour and environmental standards.
1970 an objective of using 0.7% of the industrialized countries' GDP in
assistance was adopted in the UN. Today development assistance
never been lower and only reaches 0.27% of the GDP of the
world. Only the Nordic countries and the Netherlands have
the 0.7% goal. Furthermore, development assistance has fallen
to the least developed countries.
poor figures in development assistance are due to the economic crisis
the industrialized countries, the huge unemployment, a certain mistrust
the effectiveness of development aid and the assistance to East and
Europe and the countries in the former Soviet Union. Furthermore,
end of the Cold War has meant for example for the USA a lack of
in Third World countries where development assistance was often
before for political reasons.
must make governments in the industrialized countries live up to their
to reach the UN goal of 0.7% in development assistance and
obligations to assist especially the least developed countries to a
and socially and environmentally sustainable development.
resources should be secured for primary education, training and basic
service. In this respect the 20/20 principle (20% of donors' funds
20% of the recipient country's GDP for the social sectors) should be
it should be stressed that development assistance alone can never
a sustainable development. It is crucial that the governments in
countries adopt a coordinated policy towards a socially
and sustainable development with focus on democracy and human
good governance and an end to corruption, the involvement of civil
land reforms, social services (education, health care etc.),
training, development of the infrastructure and job creation.
in the often far too high military expenses should also be a priority.
we also know how little space third world countries often have to
their own fate. The structural adjustment programmes imposed upon
by the World Bank and the IMF - the International Monetary Fund - with
neoliberalistic approach have been decisive in this respect.
1. 6.3. The environment and occupational health and safety
has meant a further deterioration of the environment,
due to changing unsustainable consumption and production
particularly in industrialized countries.
is crucial that the world's leaders now seriously consider the negative
of globalization on the environment. Many agreements and
have been made, but it is time to implement these.
progress has been made and a growing consciousness for the need of
protection is appearing, we still experience how the world's
are being worn down. The industrialized world must change its
to the environment and its energy consumption.
the industrialized countries should increase their assistance to
countries and transition economies to help them in their efforts
develop environmental policies in order to secure a sustainable
health and safety must be seen as an integrated part of
policies. Trade unions must work to have legislation adopted
occupational health and safety measures just as health and safety
and monitoring systems should be introduced. Trade unions must have
and safety representatives at the workplace, and special focus
be put on information and training activities on health and safety
Employers should be forced to secure a healthy working
and to provide the necessary protection equipment. Special
must be taken towards TNCs in order to secure the same occupational
and safety standards, wherever they are located.
there is an urgent need for a reform and restructuring of the UN
as well as a need to make it less bureaucratic and more efficient,
must admit the crucial role that the UN has in promoting peace and
We may criticize the UN, but we certainly cannot do without
role of the UN must be strengthened in general. This also requires that
member states make an active contribution towards paying their debt and
contributions to the UN.
policies of the various UN institutions and organisations must be
much better. While in some organisations the social sectors,
and gender issues have the highest priorities, these policies
be undermined by the very negative social consequences of the policies
by the international financial institutions under the UN.
trade union movement must influence the UN organisations towards
that promote social development, the respect for workers' rights,
and reduction of military expenditure in developing countries.
this respect it is vital that the resolutions of the UN Social Summit in
have a high priority and that the goals set out in the
and the commitments are systematically complied with. The role
the ECOSOC - the Economic and Social Council - in the monitoring of the
up to the Social Summit must be clarified and strengthened.
UN must strengthen its efforts to promote human rights and trade union
in relation to countries that do not respect the declaration of
rights or the ILO Conventions.
strategy on how to lobby towards politicians, governments,
enterprises and international organisations should be adopted
and internationally within the trade union movement in relation
the follow up on the various UN Conferences and Summits.
The debt crisis and Structural Adjustment Programmes
the poorest countries in the world the debt burden is one of the most
barriers to development and the struggle against poverty. There
an urgent need to find viable solutions to this problem. Often the debt
constitutes 25 to 30% of the already limited public income of these
The problem is especially serious in the least developed
issue of the need for debt relief for these countries was taken up at
Social Summit in 1995, but very few of the industrialized countries
willing to accept an immediate relief. However, in september 1996 the
Bank and the IMF adopted an initiative for debt relief for some of
poorest and most indebted countries. But the industrialized countries
actively support this positive new initiative and secure that it is
the Social Summit it was broadly recognized that there was an urgent
to change the structural adjustment programmes that the IMF and the
Bank have imposed upon developing countries for the last 10 to 15
The serious social consequences that the programmes have had were
and the need for a more social development was underlined. It
that the IMF and the World Bank have understood these signals and
there is a changing attitude in the institutions. However, there are
no clear signs of a change of policy in the countries affected.
adjustment programmes or SAPs have been implemented almost as a
model across the Third World without any regard for the culture,
special situation or problems of the specific country. Focus
been on growth, fight against inflation, the opening up of societies to
investments (without any focus on workers' rights), liberalization
the market, a blind belief in the market forces, export-orientation,
down of the public sector and cuts in social expenditure for
health, social systems etc.
is very difficult to make an overall assessment of the SAPs - the
of the countries is of course also dependent upon many other
But it does seem quite apparent that the programmes have
to widening the gap between rich and poor, have affected the
and especially the more vulnerable groups like women and children,
hard because of the social cuts, have not contributed to
the rural sectors, have minimized the role and size of the state
any planning or strategies, but rather for the sake of cutting
Thus, altogether they have not contributed to a long term sustainable
unions must keep revealing the disastrous social effects of the SAPs
keep lobbying towards governments, the UN and the World Bank/IMF for a
social development. Just as we must demand that they take up the issue
workers' rights (also in EPZs) and child labour.
contact committee between the World Bank, other development banks,
IMF and the international trade union movement about workers' rights
labour standards should be set up.
international and national development banks and organisations
as the World Bank and the IMF must introduce a clause concerning
of labour and union rights in the loan agreements and guidelines
purchases and specifications for tenders that control the award of
contracts. Borrowers and their executive bodies must be required to
from tender procedures any contractors/enterprises that do not
international standards concerning workers' rights.
Information and media strategy
of the press and the electronic media are controlled today by the
forces. It can, therefore, be difficult for trade unions to
our voices heard. We have also seen too many examples of our campaigns
getting any impact outside our own circles.
yet we all know how important a tool the media are today. A few minutes
television can start off a chain reaction from consumers to politicians
an issue can this way very easily become a top priority political
must work out a strategy nationally and internationally to deal with the
to make our campaigns for example for workers' rights visible and
We must use the media for continued denunciations of regimes
enterprises that violate human and trade union rights.
have used the new global networks very efficiently for quite some
In the trade unions we are just beginning to have them introduced,
we still do not have a clear idea of how effectively we could use them
our common goals.
propose the setting up of a Global Labour Information Network where we
coordinate our activities and exchange experiences regarding for
organising efforts, collective agreements, international works
codes of conduct, labour codes, international labour standards,
conflicts, common actions, women's rights and activities, child
health and safety measures etc.
could also be used effectively to exchange and coordinate educational
and programmes that could then be adapted to the reality of each
and country. Today far too many materials are produced for
on projects that are never exchanged with any other organisations.
mentioned before, it should not be an expensive centralised system, but
global and coordinated system that is run and financed in a decentralised
propose that a working group be set up with representatives from the
trade union movement, the ITS' and national centres and
to come up with a concrete proposal for strategy and content for
a Global Labour Information Network.
Seeking a viable alternative to neoliberalism with focus on social
has failed because it did not create equity within and
nations. As an economic and political doctrine it was rejected at
Copenhagen Social Summit by the majority of the world's heads of state.
spectacularly the electorates of its two major proponents, Great
and the United States, resoundingly rejected these policies. The
climate is changing.
cannot accept that market considerations have priority over human beings
the environment. It is not the market forces that should be steering
societies and our world. We reject the so-called market societies,
they have only led to increased social and global inequality and a
of consideration for broad popular interests. We must put social
economy on the agenda. Social and economic development must go hand
hand, complemented by conscious redistributive policies and social
a virtual world government has been created which is not subject to
form of democratic control or accountability. The democratic
of international capital and the democratization of global
is the central issue of the 21st century.
must create a world where considerations for the individual's
rights and freedoms together with solidarity and
for the community are accompanied by social welfare, justice
full employment without destroying the ecological balance.
the labour movement with its basic principles of freedom, equality and
can come up with global solutions that can create a social and
growth is important, but with the wrong policies we achieve a
that is only benefitting the big enterprises. Increased growth does
automatically lead to increased equity.
neoliberalism we have seen a growth at the expense of the poor - for
in the US and Great Britain under Reagan and Thatcher.
is crucial that we are able to change the neoliberalistic jobless growth
a sustainable growth that can lead to the creation of jobs and thus
a sustainable development of greater equity. A growth that can
an important basis to finance a rising standard of living, that can
employment, and that is able to finance increased tax revenues to
for the delivery of social services to the poor.
is fostered by investment, training and technological innovation.
key engines of growth both contribute to, and are encouraged by,
should be on specific programmes and social sectors that can promote
equity while contributing to further growth and increased
like investments in public infrastructure, basic health,
education, vocational training and land reforms.
role should be defined for the state. We do not believe in the
concept of the minimal state. And we cannot accept the
ideological privatisations of the neoliberal movement.
reassert that basic social services must be a public task to secure
rights and opportunities for all. However, we must also be ready to
well-prepared privatisations in other sectors or areas in order to
better and more efficient service and productivity. It is then the
of trade unions and employers to secure that these privatisations do
occur at the expense of labour standards and working conditions.
believe that the state has an active and vital role to play in the
and shaping of the society, in securing democratic principles,
governance, justice and stability. It is the role of the state to
a social and sustainable development that can bring about equal
and opportunities for everybody.
is through its economic, fiscal, trade and industrial policies that the
is able to intervene and shape the development of the society.
is vital to secure that civil society can be actively involved at all
in the shaping of the society and in the monitoring of democratic
and the respect for human and trade union rights.
is the time for trade unions across the world to join forces and to
for the respect of workers' rights everywhere and for a new world
in the 21st century based upon democracy, human rights, solidarity,
and justice in order to secure a socially balanced, sustainable
within and between nations.