The TUC, along with partner organisations in the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU), the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) and the Trade Union Advisory Committee (TUAC) to the OECD have worked for a number of years to include social issues in the trade agenda.
We continue to campaign at both national and international levels for strong and effective regulation to protect fundamental human rights and to manage the negative aspects of globalisation such as financial volatility and the inequitable distribution of economic benefits.
We support fair and transparent world trade and the removal of trade barriers, but on the basis that social concerns are not neglected.
A lot more needs to be done to promote development in non-industrialised countries and to eliminate poverty.
We are asking for:
Respect fundamental workers' rights
Core labour standards form the basic building blocks of democracy and are crucial to the empowerment of people, particularly those who are impoverished and marginalised.
Freedom of association, the right to effective collective bargaining, freedom from forced and child labour, and freedom from discrimination are basic human rights that help people to break out of the poverty trap.
These must be respected and not violated in the name of international trade. Consequently, there has to be co-ordination and co-operation between the WTO and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) to ensure that trade rules and policies do not continue to undermine labour standards.
A number of developing countries have expressed concern about labour standards being used for protectionist purposes i.e. to protect jobs in industrialised countries and to reduce the competitiveness of developing countries.
This is not our intention, nor are we promoting trade sanctions as the means to secure respect for these standards. We are trying to pursue respect for labour standards in a non-protectionist way and have promoted a joint WTO-ILO Standing Working Forum to try to achieve this. We wish to engage with developing countries on this issue to address their concerns.
Briefing document (400 words) issued 21 Dec 2001
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