Unions respond to G20 complacency – on the streets
The G20 finance ministers met on Friday in Washington DC (where they were in town for the spring meetings of the IMF and the World Bank). Their final communique does mention (sustainable, green) growth and job creation. But given the levels of unemployment and youth unemployment in particular, it’s a staggeringly complacent statement from the people who hold the purse strings of the vast majority of the world’s economy, and, through the IMF and the EU, control even more indirectly.
Union movements are increasingly resorting to strike action and public protests (in the last few days alone in the Czech Republic, India, Italy and Slovenia), and today France goes to the polls where the protest vote against the incumbent Nicholas Sarkozy is likely to see him only just claim a run-off place in a fortnight, and then lose to the moderate socialist Francois Hollande.
The finance ministers’ communique does refer to preparatory work for the June G20 summit, at which international bodies like the ILO will apparently be putting forward proposals for job creation. But with the British Government seeing small firms as the only source of such jobs (DFID this week announced a flea bite new fund to create a million – yes, a whole million jobs worldwide – through small firms), and the USA alone in the richest G8 countries putting on jobs in any numbers (about 500,000 in the last three months), this may be small beer. At this stage of a global recovery, even the USA’s uniquely positive record should be lamentable, and this is the best the G8 can do.
There is nothing in the finance ministers’ statement about the terrible scourge of youth unemployment, even though a G20 employment ministers’ working group is preparing a report on that very subject for the G20 summit. Nor is social protection mentioned, another key area that needs to be addressed (the communique says that social inclusion will be ever in the finance ministers’ thoughts, which is frankly little comfort!)
While Italian union leader Susanna Camusso says “we will continue to demonstrate until they acknowledge that the labour reforms will not create a single job,” the finance ministers say only that:
Recent economic developments point to the continuation of a modest global recovery, supported by some significant policy actions that have taken place since our last meeting. The tail risks facing the global economy only months ago have started to recede. However, growth expectations for 2012 remain moderate, deleveraging is constraining consumption and investment growth, volatility remains high partly reflecting financial market pressures in Europe and downside risks still persist
Fiddling while Rome strikes?