As part of the G20 gathering of global leaders in Brisbane, National President Bill Jackson was invited and attended the L20, the labour movement’s engagement with the G20 in Australia.
Invited by the Prime Minister to join the Labour 20 (L20) Steering Group in February, Bill Jackson was indeed the only representative of professional engineers in attendance – Mr Jackson described the experience as “extremely valuable”.
“To be discussing the challenges faced by Australian professionals, and learning the experiences of delegates from around the world, was incredibly useful.
Mr Jackson is pictured right, in discussion with Frances O’Grady, General Secretary of the Trade Union Congress in Britain.
The L20 was chaired by Ged Kearney (President of the ACTU), and featured presentations from the leaders of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), the Trade Union Congress (UK), the International Labour Organisation and delegates from the OECD, as well as national leaders of labour organisations across China, France, Germany, Indonesia, Japan, South Africa and the United States.
The L20 included presentations from Employment Minister Eric Abetz and Treasurer Joe Hockey, along with Jim Yong Kim President of the World Bank, Christine Lagarde Director of the International Monetary Fund, and Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England.
Mr Jackson said that he found OECD Secretary-General Mr Angel Gurria’s speech on inequality and inclusive growth, the need to focus on young people and close the gender gap, the most poignant.
Mr Gurria drew attention to new work underway at the OECD that confirms that high levels of inequality can also harm long term economic growth. The analysis shows that if inequality continues to increase, it could result in a reduction of as much as 7.5% per cent in GDP per capita compared with a baseline scenario in OECD countries over the next 25 years.
This is a very important finding. Income disparities at the bottom 40% of the income ladder, in particular, can hold back economic growth because they limit the ability of young people from poor socio-economic backgrounds to invest in their human capital and skills, to enter into the labour market and engage with society. Thus, they become a drag on economic growth.
In this context, the OECD welcomed the G-20 collective commitment at Sydney: to lift its GDP by an additional 2 per over the coming 5 years beyond a baseline scenario and to create millions of additional jobs. Thus, they announced ambitious, yet achievable, national growth strategies, to fulfil this commitment.
The OECD’s assessment, working with the IMF, is that these national growth strategies indeed could deliver up to an additional 2.1 per cent of GDP. Among the almost 1000 commitments, all the policy ingredients are there that will be help boost demand, reduce unemployment, raise labour market participation, remove trade barriers, strengthen competition and encourage long-term investment.
Mr Gurria concluded by calling on the G20 to commit to policies that combine strong economic growth with improvements in all those aspects of life that matter for people’s wellbeing.