Following a three-day Global Jobs Summit with some 4,000 delegates from 183 countries, the International Labour Organization (ILO) adopted on 19 June 2009 in Geneva a Global Jobs Pact to guide national and international policies to refocus crisis recovery efforts around the Decent Work Agenda: creating jobs, safeguarding rights, protecting people, promoting voice, participation and sustainable enterprises.
The Pact is designed to offset the prospect of prolonged global increases in unemployment, deepening poverty, the systemic risks of a deflationary wage spiral as well as contribute to building the foundations of a fairer and greener, more balanced global economy.
The Global Jobs Pact amounts to the most urgent and wide-ranging response to an economic crisis ever adopted by the ILO, which marks its 90th anniversary this year. Among the Heads of State and Government that addressed the Summit were: Nicolas Sarkozy, President of France; Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, President of Brazil; Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, President of Argentina; Armando Guebuza, President of Mozambique; Bruce Golding, Prime Minister of Jamaica; Lech Kaczyński, President of Poland; and Tarja Halonen, President of the Republic of Finland.
The Pact was adopted against a backdrop of a recent report by the ILO showing an unprecedented increase in unemployment globally and a persistence of very high levels of poverty. ILO Director-General Juan Somavia said the ILO estimated that even if an economic recovery began to take hold this year or the next, a global jobs crisis could linger for six to eight years. He also said that with 45 million new entrants to the global jobs market annually – most of them young women and men – the global economy would have to create some 300 million new jobs over the next five years just to go back to pre-crisis levels of unemployment.
The Global Jobs Pact proposes a range of crisis-response measures that countries can adapt to their specific needs and situation. It is not a one-size-fits-all solution, but a portfolio of options based on successful examples, also designed to inform and support action at the multilateral level.
The Pact urges measures to retain persons in employment, to strengthen respect for international labour standards, to sustain enterprises – with special support measures for SMEs - to accelerate employment creation and jobs recovery, combined with social protection systems, in particular for the most vulnerable, integrating gender concerns on all measures.
Of special relevance in the final build-up to the UN Conference on the World Economic and Financial Crisis taking place on 24-26 June in New York, the Pact also calls for the construction of a “stronger, more globally consistent supervisory and regulatory framework for the financial sector, so that it serves the real economy, promotes sustainable enterprises and decent work and better protects the savings and pensions of people.” Such a framework would be part of the broader set of measures that require policy coherence, international coordination and full collaboration between the ILO, the United Nations and all other relevant organizations for “shaping a fair and sustainable globalization.”
The summit also provided strong support for an enhanced involvement of the ILO in the G20 on employment and social protection-related issues, which at its last meeting in London called on the ILO “working with other relevant organizations, to assess the actions taken and those required for the future.”
“We are sending a message of vision, change and realism to governments and to the women and man in the street,” said Leroy Trotman, Worker Vice-Chairperson of the Conference’s Committee of the Whole on Crisis Response. “Recovery requires a wage-led increase in aggregate demand, social protection and social dialogue, and collective bargaining. But it also means no interference by employers, when workers organise themselves and represent their interests collectively.”
Mr. Somavia said the ILO would immediately begin to provide assistance to constituents wanting to implement measures under the Pact as well as work with other multilateral agencies. He also stressed that the Pact is not about how much more governments can spend, but how they spend it.
“We need to give life to this commitment,” said Mr. Somavia. “We all have a collective responsibility to the future. Together we can make good on our common aspirations. We have a mandate to act now, and working together we will certainly succeed.”
For more information, see www.ilo.org.
This article is also available in French.