World Unions Search in Brazil for Fair Globalization

At the closing of a  4-day event at the World Social Forum, in Brazil, the  international trade union  movement and civil society  organizations outlined their vision of how a  social dimension  can properly be instilled into globalization.

The  series of debates and workshops, which opened on 27th January in Porto  Alegre, Brazil’s sothernmost state, attracted in excess of 1,200 representatives of trade unions and  civil society organizations.


Organized by the International Confederation  of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU), the World Confederation of Labor (WCL)  and the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) in conjunction with  Global Progressive Forum, Solidar and Social Alert, participants examined  a cross-section of issues ranging from migration and outsourcing to the  impact of trade rules on globalization.


The WCL and the ICFTU, who this year organized a series of events  together during the forum, showcased a new era for the labor Movement in  Porto Alegre, with a planned unification of the two organizations with  other democratic and independent trade unions.


This will involve greater  consolidation of workers’ representation to increase worker protection  and to achieve more and better jobs and rights at work, as defined in  the International Labor Organization’s (ILO) 1998 Declaration, to  ensure fairer globalization. 


“Poverty and social disparity are testaments to the serious failings of  globalization” said the international trade union organizations.


“We  fear that this will only worsen in a climate in which governments are  being forced to compete on the price of labor to attract foreign  investors. This downside of globalization needs to be addressed before it leads  to damaging consequences such as social unrest” they said.


“We realize  that globalization has the power to provide real benefits for our  members. but this requires a fundamental change in its functioning. It needs  to be governed in a transparent way which is democratically accountable  to the outside world.”  


To mark the conclusion of debates, the international trade union  movement and civil society organizations published a statement. which  heralds an important step in the development of a common program of  priorities.


In the document, the organizations reaffirmed their support  for the implementation of the recommendations in the report of the ILO’s  World Commission on the Social Dimension of Globalization.


They also called on governments to honor their commitments including  increasing levels of development cooperation to 0.7% of GDP.


The  organizations underlined that governments and international institutions would, however. need to go further than this to improve the circumstances of  millions of people condemned to a life of abject poverty.


“There can be no question about it – decent work must be at the heart  of social and economic policy. This needs to be accompanied by social  protection and equality between women and men as it is the only method  for ensuring a stable and sustainable break from poverty.” said Giampiero  Alhadeff of Solidar.


The organizations backed fully the Global Call to Action against  Poverty (GCAP), which was launched in Porto Alegre earlier in the week at a  ceremony addressed by Guy Ryder, ICFTU General Secretary and President  Lula da Silva of Brazil.


The campaign calls for trade justice, more and  better aid and debt cancellation so that developing countries can invest  in jobs, education and health.  The ICFTU and its Global Unions  partners are making the GCAP a major focus of their work in 2005.


Following participation in a series of events and meetings at the World  Social Forum, ICFTU General Secretary Guy Ryder and  World  Confederation of Labor General Secretary Willy Thys travelled on to Davos to  spread the trade union message, focusing on fundamental worker’ rights and  the GCAP, at the World Economic Forum.


A special GCAP press conference  at the Davos Forum brought ICFTU President Sharan Burrow, rock stars  Bono and Youssou N’Dour, GCAP spokesperson Kumi Naidoo and OXFAM President  and former UN Human Rights High Commissioner Mary Robinson together  with British Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown and French Finance  Minister Herve Gaymard. 


Brown and Gaymard set out their respective  proposals to tackle global poverty, and encouraged the GCAP partners to  maintain pressure on governments worldwide to take decisive action for  global development.


The ICFTU represents 145 million workers in 233 affiliated  organizations in 154 countries and territories. ICFTU is also a partner in Global  Unions: www.global-unions.org


International Confederation of Free Trade Unions
www.icftu.org

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