INTERAMERICAN COUNCIL FOR TRADE AND PRODUCTION
GERARDO MARTINEZ’S SPEECH, FOREIGN AFFAIRS SECRETARY OF THE REPUBLIC OF ARGENTINA CGT AND UNION REPRESENTATIVE IN SEVERAL FORUMS AND INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS.
GLOBAL FINANCIAL CRISIS UNIONS’ WATCH
· His proposals and actions
· Applicable experiences to the Argentine reality.
July 29th, 2009
The speech before the Interamerican Council for Trade and Production
I appreciate Daniel Funes invitation and introduction. I also want to thank Honorary Chairman Mr. Julio Werstein and the Council’s authorities for giving me the chance to reflect on the Union Movements’ action.
I will try to show my viewpoint at this difficult moment for the world and for our country.
As Daniel has already said, I have been actively participating in several international union organizations.
I am really proud of representing Latin American workers in the ILO´s Governing Body.
Everybody knows it is the worldwide known place related to Labour.
I consider its distinctive feature of work is tripartism, the dialogue among the representative parties, the superior debate from different viewpoints, in order to improve labour conditions and workers’ quality of life by means of decent work for everybody.
INTERNATIONAL TRADE UNION CONFEDERATION (ITUC)
The most important and representative organization for workers is the International Trade Union Confederation. It was created in 2006 and nowadays it represents 170 million workers from 156 countries. Until that moment there were two International Confederations which merged into ITUC.
Consequently, Union Confederations in our continent are present through the Trade Union Confederation of the Americas (TUCA) which gathers all the workers in the hemisphere, created in 2008, with headquarters in Brazil.
This joint action from the Trade Union Movement arises as a logical answer to the new world scenario, after the fall of Communism and the outbreak of global economy.
The global trade unionism also needs global responses.
The ITUC and TUCA ratify all the principles of the trade union movement which can be summarized in its fundamental goal:
“Avoid poverty, unemployment and social exclusion by means of a global and joint response driving globalization towards solidarity, sustainable development, fair distribution of wealth and social cohesion”.
“These are the same issues than the Argentine Trade Union Movement made more than 50 years ago, but due to globalization and raise of inequity, they become more urgent than ever.
Issues made before the WB and the IMF were the first actions taken from the ITUC, since their reports included measures threatening workers and poor people and reducing the government’s political capacity.
We are talking about year 2002 when most of plans based on the Washington Consensus had failed.
It was agreed that union adjunct professionals should be in the World Bank during three years.
We kept on holding annual meetings with these International Financial Institutions, which I attended on behalf of the Argentine workers, where once again it was asked for the mentioned issues and important progress was achieved, by acknowledgement of these institutions that should consider the changes so as to apply policies conducive to sustainable development of nations.
In fact, some months ago, the best criteria judged for granting loans to countries with a wide labour market deregulation were not longer considered, and also compliance with ILO’s Decent Work regulations were incorporated to the standard bidding Specifications for works financed by the World Bank.
We also insisted on the need of more transparency and enhanced participation in the composition of the board of directors in both institutions during several presentations we delivered.
THE ITUC AND THE GLOBAL CRISIS
ITUC is constantly monitoring the global economy and in the April 2008 statement it warns the crisis and demands vital changes in the policies of International Financial Institutions/ IFI and says countries must be encouraged to promote internal demand and support the enforcement of minimum wages.
Once again, uncontrolled financial markets which caused the crisis were criticized in the G20 meeting at London that is the reason why it was demanded that Governments together with the social actors and relevant International Organizations, such as the ILO, “must create a new economic world order to build up a fairer and greener future.”
During my speech in the Annual Meeting, last June 11th, I focused on the following issues as central concepts to tackle the crisis:
- I.M.F. and World Bank overhaul to be at the service of countries development.
- Establishment of social protection to guarantee the respect for socio-labour rights.
- Enforcement of a minimum wage to guarantee a universal social floor.
- Establishment of sustainable development guidelines, which respect the environment and fight against climate change.
ARGENTINE TRADE UNIONS AT THE PRESENT CROSSROADS
We are undergoing a social-economic crisis, probably with a lesser impact than in central countries, though not less alarming.
The mentioned concepts regarding the global situation are valid to overcome it.
Para ir superándola son válidos los conceptos que he comentado respecto de la situación global.
During the same speech before the Annual Meeting I said that the creation of a Council for Social Economic Development, with the Government, businessmen and workers participation was being analyzed in Argentina.
I consider it should be a tool to channel and generate suggestions so as to achieve lasting and sustainable government policies for the benefit of all sectors and the value of a fairer society.
Nowadays the Council is at work and from our Union Movement, despite our approach differences, we are going to contribute to success with our best effort and will.
Undoubtedly, social issues should be emphasized due to the alarming poverty levels and the high number of countrymen excluded from the system.
We see how banks and corporations are saved in many countries, but workers must be first on the safeguard list.
Now, that we are always talking about Social Responsibility, I believe that taking care of the source of work is the first responsibility businessmen have in the crisis.
The simply the implementation of economic concepts of efficiency and productivity in the view of thousands of jobless fellow countrymen, which is the minimum right to human dignity is not appropriate.
The Argentine Trade Unions have been and will be the necessary actors to set the proposals our country need.
We must incorporate all the social and productive sectors in order to achieve economic development supported by a fairer and more fraternal society with a higher social insertion. This is the genuine claim that we must serve as Argentine socio-political actors
In order to achieve this complex task, it is vital the consolidation of the Government role, which is being built after wrong policies in the 1990’s.
As Bishops highlighted in their statement: “Towards a Bicentennial in justice and solidarity”, on November 2008, it urges “an active, transparent, effective and efficient Government”.
RELATIONSHIP UOCRA – CAC - GOVERNMENT
What I have said is not impossible. It is to bring what we have been firmly doing in the building industry sector to the country level.
I can say that frank positive dialogue, which values industry and workers improvement but defending everyone interests, has allowed the forge of a strong strategic Alliance workers-businessmen, and the government when necessary.
I can mention some of the results obtained from this constructive dialogue between both parties:
Wage recovery through joint sessions.
Excellence health service, in charge of the Health Insurance, in cooperation with CAC in some aspects.
Research, Training and Safety Fund [FICS] creation, a special Fund for training and plans for accident prevention at workplace, being Fundación UOCRA the action Executor.
Joint management among the (UOCRA), the Argentinean Chamber of the Building Industry (CAC) and the Institute for Building Industry Statistics and Registration (IERIC), created by government decree.
Technology in the service of Registered Employment: The smart Card “I AM A BUILDING WORKER”
National Plan of Qualification for the Building Workers and the jobless, financed by the Ministry of Labour and the active participation of every sector, has already trained 55,000 workers.
Early retirement for workers at the age of 55.