OECD Employment Ministers Meeting – Trade Unions call for a reassessment of the OECD Jobs Strategy so as to create quality jobs and reduce inequality


The TUAC Statement to the Ministerial is posted here.

The OECD Labour and Employment Ministers are meeting at a critical moment of stalled economic growth, raising the prospect of unemployment, which is already at an unacceptable high and is rising further, especially for young people and in particular those that are not in education, employment or training (NEETs).

Over 30 trade union representatives are joining the OECD Policy Forum on the Future of Work and the Ministerial Meeting itself. The TUAC delegation to the Ministerial besides the TUAC General Secretary, John Evans, includes Hassan Yussuff (President of the Canadian Labour Congress), William Spriggs (Chief Economist of the AFL-CIO) and Montserrat Mir Roca (Confederal Secretary of the ETUC).

There is a rise in non-standard work, including precarious jobs and temporary contracts, as well as an overall increase in informality. We need policy approaches that are truly promoting the creation of ‘more and better jobs’. The Ministerial meeting must mandate the OECD to undertake a reassessment of the 1994 “Jobs Strategy”. It should do so by looking at lessons learned from the crisis, and addressing the need to manage technological change in the future – this requires stronger unions and labour market institutions”, said Evans.

The reassessment must take into account the need to both, create more and better jobs, achieve inclusive growth and reduce income inequality and to prepare for the impact of technological and organisational change due to the digitalisation and automation processes in manufacturing and services’ sectors on employment, working conditions and the employment relationship. 

Those who call for more labour market flexibility need to say what they mean as some of those policies failed to deliver quality jobs and instead gave rise to irregular employment.  Precarious jobs are making for a precarious recovery. These structural “reforms” have brought about unevenly distributed social costs, while failing to deliver decent jobs with higher productivity,” said Evans.

Instead, policy proposals to make labour markets more resilient should raise aggregate demand by fully mobilizing the entire range of macro-economic policies, and ensure income inequalities are reduced – including by acknowledging the role of trade unions and collective bargaining in restoring fairer income distribution and improving working conditions”, said William Spriggs.

The OECD will also issue a Recommendation on Ageing at the Ministerial. Most OECD countries have risen the statuary retirement age on the ground that life expectancy is increasing.

Yet, employment rates of older workers remain very low. A uniform rise in the retirement age that ignores old-age unemployment and inequalities in life expectancy is likely to fuel income inequality and to shift, rather than reduce the burden of old age poverty”, said Spriggs.

In the meantime, concrete policy pathways to cease the opportunities from technological change and manage employment and income shocks need to include training and just transition plans in sectors undergoing digitalisation, automation and/ or clean energy transformations.

Choices in terms of work organisation and technology must be evaluated – specifically when it comes to new forms of work in the on-demand and sharing economy, and ICT-based mobile work. Job displacement can be prevented and effectively managed within an innovation cycle. The trend towards subcontracting, outsourcing, offshoring and classifying workers as ‘independent contractors’ in the digital economy needs to be matched by the enforcement of regulatory frameworks ensuring decent working conditions, fair wages, social security and the right to bargain collectively. In the light of this, TUAC is calling on Minsters to develop an Action Plan for Decent Work in the Digital Economy”, said Evans.