UNI GS to the OECD: Include collective bargaining in new job strategy guidelines
During an OECD panel on the future of work this week in Berlin, UNI Global Union General Secretary Philip Jennings called for the economic policy organization to include collective bargaining in its new job strategy guidelines.
The discussion, part of the OECD’s Job Strategy Forum, focused on policy measures needed to shape a fairer, more equitable economy in the wake of the digital revolution.
“After 20 years of having the US labour model shoved down our throat, I am delighted that the OECD finally sees that collective bargaining can play a constructive role,” said Jennings. The organization did not sufficiently emphasize the important role of collective bargaining in its last guidelines, issued in 2006, and it will release new guidelines next year.
The OECD suggested a policy paradigm shift to face digital change with four pillars, skills, regulation, social protection and social dialogue. Jennings suggested that social dialogue required strong unions. Since the 2006 report a new mega trend had emerged, that was the closing of democratic spaces and the crushing of the union rights to organise. The new strategy must emphasize the rights of people inside and outside the digital economy to organise into unions. There were encouraging signs from the panel who underlined the importance of unions and employers facing the digital change together through negotiation and recognition that unions were essential on the path to achieving a just transition. This message was reinforced in the UNI Commerce Global Conference by Thorben Albrecht, Permanent State Secretary, German Labour Ministry.
The UNI GS told the panel that collective bargaining is a safeguard against growing inequality and a necessary condition to strengthen democracy.
“Working people are feeling insecure and precarious, and we’ve seen the consequences. We are seeing the closing of democratic spaces across the globe.
“When people like Mark Zuckerberg talk about reinventing the social contract, UNI and the global movement are here to help him do that. Working people are looking towards bridges to the future, and those bridges include fighting the deliberate misclassification of employees at companies like Uber and the virulent opposition to unions at companies like Amazon.
“To do this, UNI and labour are seeing our roles and reach grow, and I hope that the OECD sees the growing role of the labour movement. I hope it takes a socially responsible approach in its new guidelines by recognizing that collective bargaining is necessary to making the future world of work a just world.”
Joining General Secretary Jennings on the panel were Ezequiel Sabor, Argentine State Secretary of Labour; Dr. Gerhard Braun, Vice President of the Confederation of German Employers’ Associations; Prof. Alan Manning, Professor at London School of Economics; and Christl Kvam, Norwegian State Secretary Labour and Social Affairs.