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ILO Director-General introductory remarks to ILO/IMF Conference on “The Challenges of Growth, Employment and Social Cohesion”

Declaración | Oslo | 13 de septiembre de 2010

By Juan Somavia

Dear Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, thank you for hosting us, here in Oslo, with a long tradition of global dialogue for effective and coherent international action.

Dear President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf,

Dear Prime Minister George Papandreou,

Querido Presidente Rodriguez Zapatero,

Dear Ministers,

Cher Dominique,

Dear Friends,

Thank you all for having responded to our joint invitation.

Thank you to the political leaders joining us on this occasion.

Each of you, in different national circumstances, in difficult situations, is leading courageous battles. We are with you.


Before this crisis we had major decent work deficits:

Half of the world’s, labour force in different forms of vulnerable employment; social protection not available for 8 out of 10 persons globally; inequalities growing significantly; middle classes weakened.

The crisis produced the highest ever number of unemployed, at 210 million persons looking for work.

And we need 440 million new jobs in the next ten years.

Together this form a major global jobs challenge; a fairness and opportunity.

To overcome this crisis, we cannot rely on the same policies that got us into the crisis.

In Pittsburgh G20 Leaders committed to “restoring the global economy to full health” so that “hard-working families the world over can find decent jobs”. They called for “an employment-oriented framework for future economic growth”.

We need a major shift towards a job rich pattern of growth.

For this we need greater creativity and policy convergence, more coherence across policies, at the national and global levels.

In June 2009, governments, employers and workers adopted the ILO’s Global Jobs Pact as a contribution.

After his address to the ILO Governing Body in March of last year, Dominique and I felt that the IMF and the ILO had the responsibility to deepen their cooperation.

Our teams, with Norway, have worked had in pulling this Conference together. I want to thank them enthusiastically. They’ve done a great job.

We face a double task.

Deepening the knowledge base of balanced policies, combining growth, employment and social cohesion.

Advancing policy convergence among the IMF and the ILO.

Both institutions have different mandates and policy tools. We come together around the impact of policies on people.

Productive dialogue is an essential part of the response: social, political, global dialogue.

From the beginning this crisis has produced tensions and anger. People feel they have no responsibility in causing the crisis but are paying a high price.

Why should governments have to choose between the demands of financial markets and those of their citizens? What is the social responsibility of corporate financial institutions?

Financial stability and social stability must come together.

So, we need a pattern of growth centred on work, sustainable enterprises and wealth creation, open societies and markets for strong, sustainable and balanced global growth.

But why work?

From an ILO perspective, labour is not only a cost of production; workers are not just consumers.

Decent work is a source of personal dignity, stability of families and households, peace in our communities, and ultimately, credibility of public and private institutions.

Let us, here, be bold and creative.

I look forward to a stimulating debate.

Thank you again to the political leaders who have joined us;

Thank you to all of you, for your interest.