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Day 1 of the OECD Week: TUAC Plenary discusses "inequality" - Puts OECD rhetoric in perspective
Paris, May 5, 2014


The OECD Forum started today under the heading of "jobs, inclusive growth and resilience". Sessions featured crucial topics such as skills and job gaps, inequality, taxation in development , ageing and health. The TUAC Plenary, convening at the same time, agreed that the Forum themes have to be followed up by  a political push for more equality and better jobs.

At the opening, the audience selected trust (90%) and inequality (66%) as the most pivotal topics at hand, jobs only received 40% of the votes despite stagnating or rising unemployment levels all over the OECD area. It is, however, notable that the Director of the Employment Directorate said that tackling unemployment is a core issue and labour market policies should be based on 4 priorities: quality jobs, aggregate demand, redistributive social policies and a comprehensive skills strategy.

Phil Jennings (Uni Global) at his panel on inclusive growth said that resilience can only come about through quality jobs and a New Deal, in which the labour movement is part of the solution and youth is at the center of attention. When it comes to skills, there should be a thorough debate on how to ensure equal access to quality education as Bill Spriggs (AFLCIO) underlined. John Evans said that economic trust can only be restored if there is support for collective institutions and social partners are involved. He especially asked the OECD to step it up on investment and labour standards in global value chains, only one year after the Rana Plaza disaster.

TUAC has argued that all of these points on inclusive growth and quality jobs should be incorporated into a revised OECD Job strategy that needs an update from 2006. From a broader perspective, this entails better social security and protection systems, fairer and more progressive taxation to promote purchasing power and overall, more equality when it comes to wages - that stagnate since years - and gender balance, the TUAC plenary concluded. It is imperative to restore economic justice and social responsibility.

The TUAC Plenary ended with a strong call for changing the current policy narrative from structural reforms to policies that fight inequality that, by the way as the OECD admits itself, is bad for growth and social cohesion. Forum discussions on trade, resilience and the economic outlook with trade union speakers will go on tomorrow. TUAC representatives will also head into the OECD Ministerial Meeting. Updates will be posted here and on Twitter via @TUACOECD.