United NationsDepartment of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development

Major Group: Workers & Trade

Trade Union Major Group
Statement to CSD 13
David Boys
Public Services International
21/04/2005
The major group trade unions supports a number of the policy statements in the negotiated text, and
we hope to use these elements for implementation over the years to come. Depending of course, on
how much delegates choose to leave in.
For the trade unions, it is clear that the best way out of poverty is through decent employment. This
was recognised at WSSD and we see more focus here. This is very helpful.
As US Undersecretary of State Dobriansky said last night, ?businesses grow when they have a healthy
and educated workforce. And workers are often very active in their communities.? Although she was
speaking to a business group on sustainability, her comments apply equally to the public sector.
All communities need decent jobs and high-performance workplaces. These are the bases for
sustainability.
We encourage further integration of the social dimension of sustainable development. Knowing that
most states have ratified the ILO Fundamental Principles and Rights to Work, we encourage states to
take advantage of the ILO technical assistance programmes. These programmes bring together
unions, employers and governments in a common effort to improve workplaces. They can be a
powerful tool for sustainability.
Worker participation is fundamental for sustainable development, in the workplace and in the
community. And workplace health and safety is not a luxury, it is part of the essence of sustainability.
Too many workers are injured and killed in the workplace, every day. This is not sustainable.
We also promote labour-intensive and clean technologies, including energy-efficient construction,
policies which can apply to north and south alike, and have an especial application in human
settlements and employment creation. And social housing has proven to be an equitable policy.
As concerns the role of government : we know that the private sector creates most jobs. But the
private sector depends on public infrastructure, such as water, sanitation, health, education, energy,
etc. And for many essential public services, market dynamics and the profit motive just don?t work.
That is why we encourage a more clear definition of government responsibility, including a rightsbased
approach.
We must get the governance right, because there is no justification for bad management or corruption,
whether public or private, whether north or south.
And we must create the fiscal space to allow governments to invest in and maintain essential public
infrastructure. In this context, we support debt relief and encourage commitments on ODA targets.
Finally, we call particular attention to the HIV- AIDS pandemic and especially its impact on vulnerable
groups, on women- and children-headed households. Waterborne diseases are much more lifethreatening
to these groups. And the price -gouging by private water providers is a huge problem for
them. These vulnerable groups deserve our special attention, and they have the right to safe and
affordable water, even more than the rest of us. The labour movement stands in solidarity with them.
Thank you