The 31st Congress, representing women and men working in the metal working industries in all regions of the world:
Convinced that the persistence of poverty anywhere is a threat to peace everywhere and is a source of the denial of basic human rights, and that integral human development requires governments to respect fully trade union and other fundamental democratic rights;
Appalled that poverty in developing countries still claims the lives of 30 000 children every day through hunger or preventable disease
Noting the recent Commission on Africa Report to the G8 countries is an urgent call to action to end world poverty;
Noting further the ILO World Commission conclusion that globalisation in its present form is not sustainable and that policies for so-called free trade advanced by some rich countries are a source of continuing human suffering on an immense scale
the majority of people who experience the worst forms of poverty today are workers and rural peasant populations in developing countries, women in particular;
the present global order in which the majority of the Earth’s people are poor while a small fraction is rich is unsustainable;
in developing countries, especially in Africa, poverty is growing in inverse proportion to the growth of productive forces in the world, while many women and men have no jobs, or have poorly paid and increasingly casual and unprotected ones;
the eradication of poverty requires, among other global measures, the mobilisation of global workers’ solidarity;
increased aid and credit will not be sufficient to open opportunities to developing countries to sustain industrial development and raise family incomes;
the current trade policies of the most powerful trade blocs – in particular the heavy subsidies paid to farmers – restrict access to northern markets and perpetuate poverty and acute suffering;
all the un-payable debt of the world’s poorest countries must be wiped out;
the promotion of fair trade, and particularly the elimination of agricultural export subsidies are indispensable so that developing countries can share in the benefits of international trade and investment .
The unprecedented global growth of forces of production offers today the greatest possibility of spreading the benefits of just incomes and eliminating the scourge of mass unemployment in developing countries.
The creation of decent work must be the central priority of governments, and the main element of a truly development-focused round of trade negotiations. Trade should be an important factor in the attainment of development and the creation of decent work, but for many workers the international trading system is either irrelevant or, worse, is undermining this objective. In developing countries and industrialised countries alike, agriculture, job security and decent livelihoods are seen to be menaced rather than enhanced by trade, while multinational companies threaten to shift production to where workers’ rights are denied and labour is cheap.
Expansive promises about the potential of trade liberalisation through the WTO have failed to materialise in terms of more and better jobs and higher growth either worldwide or in developing countries. Indeed, many developing countries that undertook trade liberalisation in line with the policies recommended by the WTO, as well as by the international financial institutions, found de-industrialisation to be the outcome as their domestic industries collapsed in consequence
Employment must be at the centre of the agenda in the preparation for the Hong Kong WTO Ministerial. The impact trade has on the level and quality of employment determines whether trade contributes to or detracts from raising living standards, achieving development and eliminating poverty. Yet the employment consequences of trade are virtually always neglected in trade negotiations, despite these self-evident linkages.
This situation needs to change fundamentally so that trade negotiations take place on the basis of a comprehensive ex ante assessment of their impact on the level and stability of employment (particularly in labour-intensive sectors), respect for fundamental workers’ rights, equality between women and men, good working conditions, social protection, as well as food security and access to quality public services
The challenges facing developing and least developed countries are even more acute in the Non-Agricultural Market Access (NAMA) negotiations. At both multilateral and national levels, a rigorous assessment needs to be conducted of the impact of NAMA negotiations on development, decent work and people living in poverty. Governments should not make deals in such negotiations except on the basis of a clear picture of the likely repercussions on their ability to implement industrial policies to attain their development and employment goals.
The provision of national and international funding is needed to support employment adjustment assistance when jobs are lost as a result of trade liberalisation.
Both developing and industrialised countries need to have the policy space to undertake legitimate domestically-based industrial development strategies. NAMA negotiations should not overly restrict that flexibility. A clause is needed that would enable any developing countries (particularly least developed countries) that do bind their tariffs, to be able to alter that commitment on grounds of justified social and development purposes. They should have the right to retain higher tariffs if they so wish, in line with the principle of “less than full reciprocity” contained in the Doha Ministerial Declaration.
Congress declares its full backing for the Global Call to Action Against Poverty and urges the affiliates to mobilise their membership to:
• demand of their national Governments that the creation of decent work be at the centre of their agenda, particularly in trade liberalisation negotiations.
• call on G8 countries at their meeting in June to introduce effective policies against poverty
The IMF shall:
• continue working in close collaboration with the other Global Union partners and with like-minded social movements for the attainment of the goals indicated above
• in particular, build the capacity of affiliates to effectively influence their governments’ policies on trade, aid and development
• use IFAs as a tool to strengthen worker’s rights to information and education on the above issues