IMF, WB urged to expand debt relief measures

Himalayan News Service

Kathmandu, April 24 :

A global trade union body has called on the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) to increase respect for labour rights saying this will have a powerful and positive impact on poverty reduction. In a statement released today ahead of the IMF and WB Spring Summit in Washington this weekend, the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) has asked for incorporating a decent work agenda to achieve sustainable poverty reductions. To reap long-term benefits of poverty reduction, the international trade movement has argued that the International Financial Institutions (IFIs) focus on improving employment prospects and working conditions of those whose only asset is their labour.

The international trade union grouping that represents over 150 million workers in 233 affiliated organisations in 152 countries and territories, has stressed the consequences of neglecting such issues, for example the continued abuse of women workers’ rights which has contributed to the International Labour Organisation’s alarming statistics showing that 60 per cent of the 550 million working poor are women.

Referring the IFIs’ own reports that echoes the issues, making the link between rising inequality, the persistence of poverty and the violation of labour rights. Trade unions are well placed to work with the IFIs to draw up relevant policy in this area-targeting employment creation and ensuring that all IFI projects and programmes respect fundamental workers’ rights, statement says.

Commenting in the run-up to the meetings scheduled for 24-25 April, ICFTU general secretary Guy Ryder said, “The Global Unions urge the World Bank to institute policies which respect the ideal of decent work. Policies must work towards establishing and enforcing laws, which recognise workers’ rights to earn a living wage, earned in safe conditions and free from abuse. One way to safeguard this would be to include all four core labour standards in IFC loan contracts and in other lending agreements.” Trade union organisations have also argued for the IMF policy recommendations to be more consistent with internationally ratified ILO conventions. In the course of the spring meetings, ICFTU is scheduled to calling for substantial additional resources to be allocated to debt relief for low- income indebted countries and underlining the need to increase number of eligible countries covered by the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries scheme.