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Outcomes of the “OECD Week” (27 – 30 May)


  • TUAC Evaluation of the OECD Week 2013pdf
  • TUAC Evaluation of the OECD Week 2013-FRpdf

Trade Union speakers played a major role at this year’s OECD Forum and the OECD Ministerial Council Meeting (MCM). TUAC has issued an evaluation on the outcomes of the meetings that can be downloaded here.

The TUAC Plenary Meeting kicked off the OECD Week on 27 May to prepare common positions for the OECD events, the G20 and the G8. Newest insights on the economic and social crisis, the next steps of the New Approaches to Economic Challenges (NAEC) project and the just released OECD Data on Inequality were discussed in the presence of the authors and the new Director of the OECD Employment and Social Affairs Directorate, Stefano Scarpetta. Further, the strategy on the OECD accession of Colombia was a main point on the agenda, as were discussions on the Base Erosion and Profit Shifting Initiative and the implementation of the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises.

In this year’s OECD Forum (28 - 29 May), titled ‘It’s all about people: Jobs, Equality and Trust’,  Trade Unions were represented on panels on: the Economic Outlook; Austerity vs. Growth; Trade in Value Added; Inequality; Energy Choices for a Sustainable Future; The Unemployees; (Re)Building Trust; The Power of One, and Partnerships for Development. On the Economic Outlook, Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary, said that austerity was not working and that structural attacks on quality jobs needed to be replaced with investments in jobs, social protection and green growth.

At the MCM, trade unionists intervened in most sessions icluding the Economic Outlook; the New Approaches to Economic Challenges (NAEC); Jobs, Equality and Trust; OECD Partners and Strategy on Development, and Trade. The policy theme of this year’s meeting represented a welcome change, as did policy commitments on promoting labour market activation strategies, reducing inequality, investing in skills, and supporting Gender Equality in Education, Employment and Entrepreneurship. However, policy messages from Ministers, who presented austerity and growth as compatible strategies, were contradictory in the very least with the OECD’s own analysis on income inequality and youth unemployment.

In this respect, TUAC welcomed the OECD Action Plan “Giving Youth a Better Start” and is prepared to actively contribute to its development. Especially, measures involving investments in education, vocational training, skills, career and income assistence are necessary steps forward. The same applies to the the Declaration on BEPS in sofar as it levels up the ambition of the OECD work on tax avoidance and aggressive tax planning. The true test, however, will be in July 2013 when the OECD "Comprehensive Action Plan" is disclosed.

Ministers welcomed the OECD’s work on measuring trade in terms of ‘value added’ ( TiVA) and emphasised the importance of further liberalising services and promoting investments. TUAC speakers underlined the need to increase the convergence of regulatory standards and ensure responsible business conduct in developing countries through the effective implementation of the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, given the recent industrial disasters in Bangladesh, Cambodia and Pakistan. This has been implicitely supported in the MCM Chair’s Conclusions. It was therefore disappointing that almost no reference had been made to the quality of jobs and the role of social upgrading strategies in GVCs. In regards to development policies, Ministers endorsed the OECD Strategy on Development in promoting policy coherence and issuing targeted policy advice through multi-dimensional country reviews.

At the margins of the MCM, the OECD officially announced the launch of accession talks with Latvia and Colombia (as well as open membership talks with Costa Rica and Lithuania). In the case of Colombia, TUAC had called for the OECD to review the state of trade union rights, workers’ protection and the fight against impunity for violence against trade unions. Now, that membership talks will begin, TUAC will set up a trade union group, working with the ITUC and TUCA, to ensure that the process acts as a lever for positive change for Colombian workers and trade unionists. 

All in all, the OECD Week’s focus on jobs, equality and trust needs to be followed up by real policy changes to prevent devastating economic and social consequences. For the upcoming year, TUAC is particularly looking forward to the NAEC conclusions  that are expected to incorporate measures fostering quality jobs, and inclusive and green growth. While, at the moment, the paradigm of strict austerity is still reigning, a shift towards measures that accelerate growth and demand is strongly desired.