Education International
Education International

World Economic Forum: the International Trade Union movement challenges Business leaders on Corporate Responsibility

published 24 January 2007 updated 24 January 2007

A delegation of 12 international trade union leaders at the Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos this week will be calling companies to account on corporate taxation, the role of private equity investment and the social and environmental responsibilities of business.

The main theme at the Davos forum, "The Shifting Power Equation", raises many key issues about the direction of the global economy, and the fault lines which continue to exist. The delegation is composed of EI General Secretary and Chair of the Council of Global Unions, Fred van Leeuwen, ITUC President Sharan Burrow, ITUC Deputy President Luc Cortebeeck, ITUC General Secretary Guy Ryder, OECD-TUAC General Secretary John Evans, UNI General Secretary Philip Jennings, BWI General Secretary Anita Normwark, ITGLWF General Secretary Neil Kearney and ITF General Secretary David Cockroft, as well as leaders of various national trade union centres Agnes Jongerius (FNV Netherlands), G Rajasekaran (MTUC Malaysia), Abdullah Muhsin (Iraqi trade unions) and Mirai Chatterjee (SEWA). In their Statement to the Forum WEF Statement - 'Labour and the Shifting Power Equation', the labour leaders group analyses the growing shift of power away from working people, as fundamental rights at work are undermined, workers’ share in productivity gains diminish and social protection is a distant hope for many millions of people around the globe. The union participants will also put the issue of private equity and hedge fund investment into the spotlight. With some US$600 billion in such acquisitions spent in 2006, double the amount of the previous year, questions about transparency, corporate governance and sustainability are critically important, not least for the working women and men whose employment, rights and working conditions are often threatened by the behaviour of these funds. With economic growth remaining relatively high around the world, the phenomenon of "jobless growth" will also feature on the union agenda at Davos, where the labour leaders will also hold meetings with top officials of a range of intergovernmental institutions to push forward the call for global policy coherence with social and environmental concerns at the centre of decision-making. "The Power Equation of the world of work is shifting to the detriment of workers around the world, including teachers. Declining social protection, increasing pressure on established practices of collective bargaining, the growing casualisation of work have dire consequences for everyone, especially women, young people and vulnerable groups," said van Leeuwen. "The international trade union movement is here to call for greater accountability for the jobs of all workers around the world, more transparency and multilateralism in global governance, as well as a sustainable global economy," he added.