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Trade Union bodies call for UNCTAD expanded role


Trade Union bodies call for an expanded role for UNCTAD

Brussels 11 June 2004 (ICFTU Online): As the United Nations conference on trade and development (UNCTAD XI) gets underway in the Brazilian city of Sao Paolo (13th- 18th June), the ICFTU together with TUAC (Trade Union Advisory Committee to the OECD) have said that moves to turn UNCTAD into a conveyor belt for untrammelled trade and investment liberalisation in developing countries must be resisted. A vital force in helping developing countries to participate effectively in trade negotiations, UNCTAD's role should be expanded to develop a fuller evaluation of the impact of trade and investment policies on poorer countries' citizens and their economies.

The social implications of economic policies, including their impact on women, provide one area on which UNCTAD should increasingly focus, according to the international trade union movement. All too often, the rewards for women of a globalised economy are fewer employment opportunities, discrimination in the labour market and poverty wages. Without changes to the present model of globalisation, cases of women being dismissed from their jobs in EPZs on account of pregnancy and other alarming violations of workers' rights are likely to continue unabated.

The trade union movement has also renewed its calls for the establishment of an inter-agency Globalisation Policy Forum, reflecting the growing need for a fairer form of globalisation and for monitoring the social impact of development policies in the global economy. This echoes the recommendations made in the ILO World Commission's report on the social dimensions of globalisation, released earlier this year. The international trade union movement is stressing the importance of UNCTAD playing a key role in any such inter-agency forum.

A further trade union proposal is that the OECD's guidelines for multinational enterprises should form a standard part of all the UN agency's recommendations for investment policies. The OECD guidelines include respect for core labour standards, as enshrined in International Labour Organisation (ILO) Conventions, and the inclusion of fundamental workers' rights in UNCTAD's agenda is essential in shaping an organisation that can tackle globalisation in the 21st century.

Link to ICFTU -TUAC statement: http://www.icftu.org/displaydocument.asp?Index=991219322&Language=EN

The ICFTU represents 152 million workers in 231 affiliated organisations in 150 countries and territories. ICFTU is also a member of Global Unions: http://www.global-unions.org

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