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2004 termed a "lost year for jobs"

7th ILO European Regional Meeting, Budapest, 14-18 February 2005

2004 termed a "lost year for jobs" as economies fail to balance growth with job creation

BUDAPEST (ILO News) - The 7th European Regional Meeting of the International Labour Organization (ILO) opened here today with calls for economic policies to improve the ability of countries in the region to create badly needed jobs.

Speakers also called for good governance and for coherent policies to ease transitions in the cycle of people's working lives, as well as to help ensure a fair and equitable globalization.

Speaking to a packed conference room of worker, employer and government representatives, including four prime ministers and more than 30 labour ministers, ILO Director-General Juan Somavia said "these are not easy times… There is no one-size-fits-all solution."

Mr. Somavia noted that the four key policy areas in the "life cycle" affecting people during their working lives S from education to employment, moving from job to job or from country to country, and the transitions facing older workers S were among the central issues facing all 50 countries at the meeting.

"Good governance and coherent policies can make a profound difference in these four key periods of working life," he said. "For policies to be effective at all these four transition points, there is one common ingredient: we need economies that generate enough quality jobs for all willing and able to work."

The meeting opened against the backdrop of a new ILO report painting a somber picture of the global employment situation. The ILO's annual Global Employment Trends confirmed that despite robust growth, the global economy is failing to create enough new jobs. In Europe and Central Asia, despite a healthy 3.5 per cent economic growth rate in 2004, the number of jobs grew by only a half per cent, according to the report.

"The harsh reality is that the global economy is not creating enough jobs nor stemming the tide of the growth of the informal economy where more than a billion workers live in grinding poverty," Mr. Somavia said. "In many ways, 2004 was a lost year for jobs."

The ILO European and Central Asian region member States meet every four years to forge policies and set priorities for the area. The meeting is the only gathering of members of the European Union, the Stability Pact, the Commonwealth of Independent States and the Council of Europe, as well as tripartite representatives from government, worker and employers, to discuss common concerns to the world of work.

The meeting heard opening statements from Mr. Ferenc Gyurcsány, Prime Minister of Hungary, Mr. Jean-Claude Juncker, Prime Minister of Luxembourg (EU Presidency), Mr. Michel Barde, Employer spokesperson and Mrs. Ursula Englen-Kefer, the Worker spokesperson and Mr. Somavia.

During a panel discussion entitled "Will social dialogue survive globalization?", Mr. Somavia, Mr. Danial Akhmetov, Prime Minister of Kazakhstan, Dr. Lawrence Gonzi, Prime Minister of Malta, Mr. Gyurcsány and Mr. Juncker were joined by Mr. François Périgot, President, International Organization of Employers and Mr. John Monks, General-Secretary, European Trade Union Confederation.

The Hungarian Minister of Employment and Labour, Gabor Csizmar was elected chair of the four-day meeting.

"The challenges are great, but so too is the creativity of tripartism and social dialogue," Mr. Somavia said in his comments. "In every country, we see new solutions emerging to meet the changing agendas of workers and employers. Amidst all these complexities, there is one shared aspiration."

"A fully inclusive and equitable globalization… creates opportunities for all," Mr. Somavia said. "This governance issue will dominate national and international debate for years to come. We cannot expand the reach of democracy and ignore the demands of the people for decent work. Decent work in a fair globalization is an attainable goal."

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