The BRICS Trade Union Forum (BTUF), a confederation of Brazilian, Russian, Indian, Chinese and South African federations has called on the multinational body to strengthen tripartism and social dialogue to make it easy to incorporate workers’ concerns globally. The BTUF is currently the largest trade union representative body in the world and is formally recognized by the Heads of States of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. FEDUSA, COSATU and NACTU represent South Africa on the BTUF. BRICS countries are made up of some of the world’s largest populations, making up 43% of the global total, and contributing 37% and 17% to world Gross Domestic Product and trade respectively.
The BTUF met in Beijing on Monday and Tuesday to discuss wide ranging but vital topics such as promoting economic growth, creating jobs, enhancing employment quality and realizing decent work in the spirit of openness, inclusiveness and win-win cooperation before moving on to Chongqing to meet with the BRICS Labour and Employment Ministers on Thursday and Friday.
“We note that it is of great significance for the BRICS Trade Union Forum to voice workers’ concerns and facilitate the proper operation of the BRICS cooperation mechanism. We appeal to the BRICS countries to improve the BRICS cooperation mechanism, grant the BRICS Trade Union Forum a status on par with the BRICS Business Council, improve the tripartite mechanism, strengthen social dialogue and make it easier to incorporate issues of immediate concern to the world of work into the BRICS cooperation mechanism in a bid to deliver a major boost to development and cooperation in the BRICS countries” the federations said in a joint statement addressed to the ministers.
The BTUF recommended that Task Teams be formed to work out the modalities of the enhanced cooperation mechanisms and also noted with concern that the world economy had barely recovered from global economic crisis of 2008 and that it remained sluggish and lacked momentum.
“The situation is harming the interests of the broad masses of workers. We advocate that the BRICS countries should strengthen their unity, make joint efforts to fight against protectionist policies and to tackle global challenges such as terrorism, infectious diseases and climate change” the statement continued.
“We appeal to the BRICS governments to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, work together in the spirit of mutual respect, common progress, mutual benefit and win-win cooperation, speed up the strategic integration of their development policies, and inject new impetus into international development and cooperation and the promotion of well-being of workers by employing new ideas, new concepts and new measures”.
The unions noted further that although BRICS countries contribute more than half of the global growth, they themselves are beset by some challenges in terms of making proper economic and social policies, particularly those on enhancing employment quality and safeguarding workers’ interests.
“We appeal to the BRICS governments to seize the opportunities brought by the new round of industrial revolution and the digital economy, improve their labour policies, increase jobs, encourage innovation and entrepreneurship, raise financial input for vocational education and job training, establish an inclusive and efficient job training system, deepen cooperation with social partners, intensify efforts to provide employment and re-employment training for workers and enhance workers’ competency and adaptability,” the joint statement said.
“The BRICS countries should strengthen their social security systems, increase workers’ income, improve working conditions, and safeguard and develop workers’ legitimate rights and interests”.
The delegates expressed their unanimous support for the BRICS Xiamen Summit scheduled to be held in September 2017 to take “BRICS: Stronger Partnership for a Brighter Future” as its theme.