GENEVA (ILO News) – Leaders from the real economy, meeting at the International Labour Organization's annual conference, held a high-level debate on ways out of the global economic and jobs crisis and called for an urgent, balanced policy approach that would combine economic recovery with jobs growth.
Two high-level panels were convened at the ILO’s International Labour Conference amid growing concern over unemployment, which remains at its highest point ever, and the impact of the sovereign debt crisis and recent moves to reduce deficits, impose austerity measures and take other steps towards fiscal consolidation.
Many speakers voiced strong support for the ILO’s Global Jobs Pact and Decent Work Agenda as providing a foundation for a sustainable way out of the crisis.
The two panels were convened to discuss ways of forging a job-rich recovery and fostering more sustainable and balanced growth through making employment a macroeconomic objective of the same order as low inflation and deficits. They also discussed the contribution of productive employment and social protection to realizing faster progress to achieve internationally agreed development goals such as the MDGs.
“The ILO has helped lead the way with the Global Jobs Pact which is moving job creation up the priority list,” said United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon in a statement prepared for the discussion. “Now is the time to go even further. A recovery is not meaningful if people learn about it in the newspaper. Working women and men need to see it in their own lives and livelihoods. Simply put, a real recovery must reach the real economy.”
At the same time, a number of speakers cited examples of balanced economic and social policies in response to the crisis. Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim said a strategy of strengthening the real economy while prioritizing social justice had helped mitigate the impact of the global economic crisis in Brazil, adding “peace, cooperation and fair trade will be the new name of development”.
US Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis, speaking in a video message, presented the conclusions of the G-20 Labour and Employment Ministers’ meeting last April in Washington, noting that the meeting had highlighted the role of the ILO Jobs Pact and Decent Work Agenda as “valuable resources for governments as they design further measures to address employment and social protection systems.”
Other speakers also stressed the role of social protection as an essential part of the response to the crisis. Gilles de Robien of France, President of the Conference, said the succession of crises had shown that “social protection is both a social stabilizer and a stabilizer for the economy, at least in countries where such protection exists”.
Panelists also warned that the accelerating sovereign debt crisis, coupled with government policies designed to squeeze public expenditures at the expense of job creation, also threatened to stall or reverse progress in achieving the Millennium Development Goals of reducing poverty and promoting development by 2015.
Mr. Valentin Mocanu, Secretary of State, Ministry of Labour, Family and Social Protection, Romania noted that the Conference had just concluded ground-breaking discussions on employment issues that underscored that the ILO and its social partners "have major roles to play in advancing the objective of an employment-centered macroeconomic framework. We have asked the Office to ”improve and coordinate its technical and analytical capacity to examine macroeconomic policies from the perspective of employment outcomes.”