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G20 Leaders Must Use This Moment To Lay The Foundations For A New Social Contract

The ITUC, as part of the L20 group that represents working people at the G20 level, is calling for critical action as this weekend’s G20 summit in Saudi Arabia.

The G20 leaders must seize this moment to lay the foundations for an economic recovery that focuses on employment and climate-friendly jobs, the rights of working people, universal social protection and fair taxation to ensure the profits made by a few in the pandemic are shared with the many.

Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary, said: “This is an extraordinary moment in history, and the G20 leaders can do nothing less than take extraordinary action.

“In September, the G20 labour ministers acknowledged that the economic effects of the reaction to COVID-19 will leave working people more vulnerable to ‘poverty, informality and different forms of exploitation’. That was the first step.

“Now it’s up to the G20 leaders to do what is necessary to turn this situation on its head, to take action that is anti-poverty, anti-exploitation and pro-formal and climate-friendly jobs. They must build the new social contract that all working people are crying out for, built on good quality jobs, fundamental workers’ rights, universal social protection and a fair tax system.”

Pierre Habbard, General Secretary of the Trade Union Advisory Committee (TUAC) to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), emphasised the importance of the current moment: “The Covid-19 pandemic has turned into the deepest global crisis in modern history. It is a crisis that piles on many layers of crises. It did not hit otherwise robust and socially just economies.

“The Leaders G20 was created in the aftermath of the 2008 global financial crisis. The Covid-19 crisis is challenging the G20 as the leading global forum that can work together and take decisive actions against a crisis that could rapidly transform into a political crisis for democracy".

The L20 statement to the G20 Leaders’ Summit sets out the details of the problems exacerbated by the ‘pandemic of inequality’, and how recovery and resilience can be built on ‘the implementation of past commitments and new action’.

  • The world has lost 495 million jobs (the International Labour Organization (ILO) estimates)
  • Women have been disproportionately hit as they are overrepresented in low-paying, precarious jobs.
  • The 25 wealthiest billionaires increased their wealth by US$255 billion between mid-March and late-May.
  • Climate change has reached an emergency with 2020 setting grim records.
  • Global military expenditure rose to US$1.9 trillion in 2019, the largest annual growth since 2010.

But this can be tackled by:

  • declaring Covid-19 a workplace disease and protecting workers.
  • providing financial means to all countries through progressive tax reform, finance and monetary arrangements.
  • increasing job and income security for workers and all citizens by underpinning Decent Work in a New Social Contract that includes universal social protection.
  • creating good quality jobs, with fundamental workers’ rights, by investing in the care economy and investing in climate-friendly jobs to build resilient economies.
  • pursuing progressive taxation, a financial transactions tax, a digital tax, and establishing a minimum corporate tax threshold.

“We’ve made it very easy for the G20 leaders, we’ve done all the talking, thinking and planning for them and put it all on our statement. All they have to do is read it and put it into action, in partnership with working people and their unions. If they don’t, then history will judge that they let this moment slip through their fingers, and we’ll be there to remind them,” added Sharan Burrow.

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