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G8 Summit Must Act to Erase Debt Burden Says Trade Union Group

International Confederation of Free Trade Unions
July 7th, 2000

BRUSSELS -- ''It is scandalous that despite high flown promises so little has been done to cancel the debt burden of the poorest countries'' said the ICFTU General Secretary Bill Jordan following a meeting in Tokyo with the Japanese Prime Minister.

''We believe that as the host of the G8 Summit the Japanese government should play a leading role in persuading G8 countries to accelerate the debt-relief process for eligible countries, and the IMF and World Bank should write off debts of the poorest.'' Bill Jordan told Japanese Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori, at a meeting between the Prime Minister and an international group of trade union leaders co-ordinated by the Trade Union Advisory Committee to the OECD (TUAC).

Bill Jordan pointed out in his statement to Prime Minister Mori that it was disgraceful that so far only Uganda had received debt relief, under the currently debt initiatives plans. The group of highly indebted poor countries includes 32 countries with a GNP of $695 or less a year.

The trade unions are also urging the G8 countries to reduce the instability of major currencies through effective policy co-ordination between Europe, North America and Japan.

The international trade union movement says events at Seattle have taught the industrialised nations that many developing countries do not have confidence that globalisation will bring the promised benefits, and need guarantees that it will bring progress and development. Cancellation of the debt would be a coherent multilateral response by multilateral institutions to globalisation's challenges.

The ICFTU says that trade unions are also concerned about the effects of globalisation, as recent years have seen a downward spiral of workers' rights. Footloose investors which move from country to country seeking the most lucrative production lines, are undermining the respect for core labour standards as well as endangering governments and companies that want to set in place socially responsible policies.

Traditionally trade union leaders from the G8 countries (USA, Russia, Germany, France, Britain, Canada, Japan and Italy), as well as the ICFTU and the Trade Union Advisory Committee to the OECD (TUAC) meet before the G8 Summit and present a statement to the head of the host country. This year's meeting with Prime Minister Mori was organised by TUAC. The G8 Summit takes place on July 21-23 on the island of Okinawa.

For more information, please contact:
Luc Demaret at 00 322 224 0212 or press@icftu.org
International Confederation of Free Trade Unions(ICFTU)
Boulevard du Roi Albert II, B1, B-1210 Brussels, Belgium