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The Guardian 4 February, 2009

A powerful jobs message

The global financial crisis threatens to become a social time bomb if the world’s governments don’t act together with unions to save and create sustainable jobs, according to global trade union leaders attending the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland.

A statement released by a delegation of union leaders, including International Trade Union Congress and ACTU President Sharan Burrow is pushing for a comprehensive recovery and reform package, with top priority placed on sustainable employment.

"We are in a perilous situation now, and internationally co-ordinated action is needed to save and create decent jobs," said Ms Burrow who is one of the union leaders at the Davos meeting.

"Working people and their families have a right to be angry when the financial institutions that created the mess are being bailed out with taxpayers’ dollars but those taxpayers are now losing their jobs and their homes with no support or compensation," she said.

The International Labour Organisation forecasts that 50 million more jobs will be lost, and that 200 million more people will live in absolute poverty.

"The voodoo economics that peddled endless profits leveraged from debt was always set to fail and it now haunts the homes and communities of working families around the world. Unions are now demanding that their needs come first," said Ms Burrow.

"Sustainable employment must be at the core of recovery efforts and at the same time business needs to develop a greater sense of corporate responsibility. Unions should have a seat at the table so that solutions have maximum benefit."

In their statement to the Davos meeting, the unions call for a series of measures including:

  • Further coordination of monetary policy and fiscal stimulus to maintain and create jobs.

  • Investment in infrastructure to stimulate demand and prepare for recovery, including spending on schools, hospitals and care for the aged and young children.

  • A "Green New Deal" for climate-friendly investment and jobs.

  • Actions to keep workforces employed and retrained during the crisis.

  • Strengthening of unemployment benefits and other social security schemes.

  • Tax and spending measures targeted at those on low-incomes.

  • A boost to development aid to help meet the Millennium Development Goals and action on the global food crisis.

    Discussions with the global institutions and national governments have also focused on ensuring workers’ rights to union representation and collective bargaining, coupled with investment in labour market programs.

    The global union movement is putting forward a detailed framework for new regulations to put an end to the rampant speculation and financial profiteering which has triggered the global crisis.

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