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Outcome of G8 Labour & Employment Ministers Meeting - Niigata, 11-13 May 2008 - TUAC Evaluation



  • 0805t_g8_Niigata_Evaluationpdf



1.       Trade union concerns did eventually force their way on to the agenda of the G8 Labour Ministers meeting in Niigata on 11-13 May through the consultations with the social partners and are in part reflected in the Chair’s conclusions. The impact on jobs of the growing economic crisis, rising inequality and the growth in precarious jobs were eventually discussed by G8 Labour Ministers – although these issues were not originally on their agenda.

2.       The conclusions of the Ministers often point in the right direction but are couched in general terms and weak language that sounds aspirational rather than concrete. This leaves doubt about the follow-up and implementation of commitments. The new issue addressed by ministers is the interrelation between the environment and climate change – here issues of “green job creation” and workplace action are raised and the Niigata “global balance principle” that reflects them is to be presented to the G8 leaders meeting at Hokkaido in July. The Chair of the meeting Minister Masuzoe of Japan said “Our societies are faced with negative aspects of globalisation, and [...] we need to closely cooperate to ensure our labour market systems operate in a smooth and orderly manner.” He went on to say “I hope to show our determination to tackle climate change forum a labour perspective from here in Niigata to the world.”

3.       Behind the calm language however divergence of view did appear between the “Anglo-Saxon” countries – the US, UK and Canada, often supported by Russia who promoted markets as the solution to most issues – and Germany, France, Italy and the European Commission who urged greater government action for creating decent work and linking environment and labour strategies. The outcome is clearly a compromise.

4.       The official theme of the meeting was “Seeking the Best Balance for a Resilient and Sustainable Society”. The Conference was part of this year’s cycle of G8 meetings chaired by Japan leading up to the G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit in July. Trade union and business delegations coordinated by TUAC (on behalf of global unions) and BIAC took part in the first afternoon session of the conference and submitted written statements.

5.       Moving forward on these issues will require unions in the G8 countries and the Global Unions to follow up the key points both with regard to green jobs and workplace and on rising global inequality in the run up to the G8 Hokkaido Summit and beyond.


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