Education International
Education International

EI brings the voice of teachers at the WTO Ministerial Conference

published 19 December 2011 updated 19 December 2011

The 8th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) was held in Geneva, Switzerland, from 15-17 December. EI joined the international trade union movement in warning of growing social unrest, rising inequality, and increased hardship if trade liberalisation continues in its current form.

In a statement released to mark the opening of the conference, the International Trade Union Confederation said the deal on the table will not assist in the economic recovery, employment creation, or “genuine economic development.”

“The financial crisis and subsequent economic recession has demonstrated the necessity for governments to maintain sufficient policy space to respond to private sector failures,” the statement noted.  “Investments in public services, including education and health care, the prudent regulation of financial services and the use of government procurement are essential elements of economic stimulus, job creation, and long-term recovery.”

An EI delegation including affiliates from Canada, Russia and Zambia took part in the Ministerial meeting, pressing member countries not to expose their education sectors to the commercial logic of WTO agreements.

David Robinson, EI’s senior advisor and trade specialist, explained education remains one of the least covered sectors in the WTO agreements, largely because education unions have been successful in making the case with their governments about the dangers of trade liberalisation.

“While the WTO talks are deadlocked, we need to remain vigilant and ensure that the voice of teachers and education workers continues to be heard,” Robinson underlined.