- With spreading financial crisis likely to take centre stage at upcoming annual meetings of World Bank and IMF in Washington from 11 to 13 October, global trade union movement is urging international financial institutions (IFIs) not to overlook millions of low-income workers whose buying power has declined drastically because of food and fuel price hikes.
By World Bank's estimate, price surges will add 100 million to number of extreme poor in world, most of which are in sub-Saharan Africa.
"If vigorous action is not taken, Millennium Development Goals such as halving global poverty by 2015 will not be attained. IMF and World Bank must increase and expedite aid to developing countries suffering consequences of food, fuel, and now, financial crisis," International Trade Union Conference (ITUC) general secretary Guy Ryder said.
Commenting on discussion on governance reform expected to take place at World Bank during meetings, Mr Ryder added, "nothing short of voting parity for developing countries is acceptable. Lender-borrower relationship that has defined decision-making in IFIs is no longer appropriate given global scale of these challenges."
He noted that global unions are pleased that IFIs are responding to crises with emergency aid, but added that they should reconsider previous IFI policies that have contributed to food security problems, for example, and change them accordingly.
He further said, "IFIs must ensure that none of those suffering from food price hikes suffer even more because of certain policy measures they put forward."
ITUC and other global unions point out that elimination of subsidies to reduce prices of basic foodstuffs in favour of greater "targeting" of aid, which IFIs have proposed, can result in many of needy losing access to assistance.
According to a statement issued by ITUC yesterday, the group also recommends that IFIs support increased minimum wages and protection of freedom of association so that workers can seek to prevent further deterioration of their real incomes through collective bargaining.
Statement further states that observing that IFIs will face exceptional global challenges at this year's annual meetings; Global Unions are asking IFIs to respond more fully to needs and priorities of all of their member countries.
Mr Ryder concluded that, "food and financial crises and other challenges like climate change will have stronger adverse effects on poorer countries, adding that IFIs must reform their governance structures so that developing countries have an equal voice in determining how to confront these problems.
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