Education International
Education International

International labour leaders call for action from the G8

published 16 May 2008 updated 16 May 2008

Trade union leaders from the G8 countries and global labour organizations called for action from the G8 on the worsening jobs situation and the global food crisis at a meeting in Tokyo with the Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda on 13 May as part of the preparations for the G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit in July.

EI General Secretary Fred van Leeuwen, taking part in the delegation as chair of the Council of Global Unions, requested Fukuda to press at the G8 Hokkaido summit for a new impulse to be given to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. The promises made at previous G8 summits to help achieve education for all, provide basic health care and clean water, prevent the further spread of HIV/AIDS and ensure access to affordable treatment for those already afflicted, must be followed up with action.

"Business as usual is not enough," said van Leeuwen, who also drew attention to the importance of quality public services. "These are central to the capacity of governments to achieve the MDGs. It is an illusion to think that somehow markets will solve the problems. Worse, talking about increased private input can be an alibi for inaction by governments."

He invited the G8 governments "to set models of good practice by working constructively with the organizations that represent public employees, and that includes recognizing trade union rights for them – including in Japan".

Van Leeuwen said that models of good practice should also extend to the funding of public education. He expressed surprise that Japan had allowed investment in education to fall below the OECD average. "That is a policy that simply does not make sense in today’s global economy," he added.

The international trade union delegation also took part in a conference of G8 Labour ministers together with the heads of ILO and OECD, held in Niigata on 11 and 12 May to prepare for the Hokkaido summit.

Click here to access the trade union statement on the TUAC website.