Integração Regional na América Latina: o “processo real” e a visão da Aliança Social Continental

Alianza Social Continental
La ASC es una red de organizaciones laborales y coaliciones ciudadanas que representa a más de 45 millones de personas a lo largo de las Américas. Fue creada para facilitar el intercambio de información y la conjunción de estrategias y acciones con miras a construir un modelo alternativo y democrático que beneficie a nuestros pueblos. La ASC es un espacio abierto a organizaciones y movimientos interesados en modificar las políticas de la integración continental y en promover la justicia social en las Américas.
asc-alternativasparalasamericas

Prospectiva Consultoria Brasileira de asuntos Internacionais

Este texto, diagnosis realizado pela Prospectiva Consultoria por solicitação da Central Única dos Trabalhadores, está dividido em três tópicos básicos.
Na primeira parte, diagnosis discutem-se os principais marcos teóricos sobre a integração regional nos países periféricos, a partir de uma análise da evolução das idéias da Cepal e da Unctad.

O segundo tópico versa sobre o processo real de integração, descrevendo as principais características de blocos como o Mercado Comum Centro-Americano (MCCA), Caricom, Comunidade Andina de Nações (CAN) e Mercosul, as suas semelhanças e diferenças, assim como iniciativas comuns desenvolvidas entre estes projetos de integração. Discutese também a proposta alternativa protagonizada pela Alba e as suas diferenças conceituais e práticas em relação às iniciativas predominantes de integração.

Finalmente, a terceira parte do presente trabalho realiza uma síntese da visão da Aliança Social Continental sobre a integração no âmbito do continente americano, a partir do documento “Alternativa para as Américas”, contrapondo-a com a dinâmica assumida pelo processo real de integração ao longo dos anos noventa.

O objetivo central deste relatório foi o de contrastar a dinâmica concreta da integração regional com os princípios defendidos pela Aliança Social Continental. Desta forma, ele cumpre um papel relevante na medida em que estimula o movimento social organizado do
continente americano a refletir sobre os rumos da integração, mas também sobre as possibilidades de intervenção em processos que não estão concluídos e nem se mostram inexoráveis.

Parte-se do pressuposto de que a reflexão constitui etapa necessária e fundamental para qualquer ação propositiva sobre a realidade econômica e social da região.
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Contemporary International Economic Relations – Enhancing Human Security through a Civil Society Response

Sheila Bunwaree, University of Mauritius
Contemporary international economic relations are marked by a long history of unequal power relations and exchange. This very uneven relationship between the colonizers and the colonized persists today causing Africa to continue finding itself in very abysmal conditions. Africa is a continent which still has to grapple with the legacies of slavery, colonialism and now new forms of imperialism accentuated by a very inequitable world market.. The enrichment of one side of the world out of 31st August the exploitation of the other has left the African economy without the 2005 means to industrialise and grow adequately.
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Plataforma Laboral de las Américas

Decent Work for Sustainable Development

 

We, the working women and men of the Americas and the

Caribbean, united as brothers and sisters in the Inter-American

Regional Workers’ Organization (ORIT), the Andean Labour

Consultative Council (CCLA), the Caribbean Congress of Labour

(CCL), the Central America and Caribbean Union Coordination

(CCSCAC), the Southern Cone Union Coordination (CCSCS) and

the national labour centrals of Canada, the United States and

Mexico, are speaking with one voice on behalf of ourselves and our

sons and daughters, to demand an urgent change of course.

 

We declare:

Globalization has exacted a very high toll from our

peoples, not only those living in marginalized regions,

but also in countries where globalization is perceived to

have been a success. Since the free-market model was

introduced in the Americas, every indicator of social

well-being and working conditions has deteriorated

significantly: employment, job stability, the quality of life, social mobility

rates and levels of equality. The predatory attitude of capital toward

our hemisphere’s abundant and unprotected natural resources and

toward stewardship of the environment, the insistent cheapening of the

cost of labour and its increasing precariousness, growing inequalities

regarding gender, class, race and ethnic origin all considered

incentives to attract investment place in serious jeopardy the survival

of important regions of the Americas. The scarcity of decent jobs has

frayed the social safety net, reducing labour rights to mere

declarations, annulling the potential of social dialogue between

government, business and labour, and undermining companies’

commitment to their social responsibility.

 

Our experience with the Washington Consensus and the neo-liberal

economic policies stemming from it has shown the fundamentalist

notion of “free trade” to be bankrupt.

We, the millions of working women and men forced into

unemployment, pushed into poverty, battered by precarious working

conditions and labour flexibility, obliged to leave our farms and our

homes, urge the governments of the Americas to abandon the

policies inspired by free-market fundamentalism. The hemisphere is

in urgent need of an approach to sustainable development which

places decent jobs and social justice at its heart, and the creation of

mechanisms for the state to ensure no citizen is left behind. We need

new policies designed from a gender perspective, which seek

primarily to strengthen democracy, broaden opportunities for citizens

to participate in decision-making at national and regional levels,

reduce inequality, create decent work with dignified working

conditions and full employment for all men and women in the

Americas (1).

Ongoing processes of sub-regional integration must

be strengthened as an alternative to neo-liberal free

trade agreements which have only deepened the gulf

between rich and poor, both between countries and

within them. We know that there are different

approaches to regional integration, and therefore we

understand that they can bring positive benefits, as long

as they do not disguise efforts by certain countries to

dominate others, as has occurred with some neo-liberal free trade

and investment agreements.

For these reasons, we propose this Labour Platform for the Americas

as a point of departure for a new way forward for all of our peoples

and our nations, with potential relevance for men and women across

the world.

 

1. A New Democratic Consensus with Popular

Sovereignty and a Gender Perspective

Without fully embracing democracy, a gender

perspective and human rights, there will be no new

way forward for the Americas.

The peoples and nations of the Americas

urgently seek a new consensus based on the

following objectives:

Strengthening democracy and achieving full

respect for human rights;

Broadening the channels for citizen participation in national

and international decision-making;

Achieving social justice;

Integrating a gender perspective into all policies;

Eliminating all forms of discrimination on the basis of class,

race, ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation;

Establishing full employment as the basis for sustainable

development;

Ensuring no man, woman or child is excluded from our

societies; and

Rebuilding the capacity of governments to take pro-active

measures.

We support and defend the self- determination of peoples and states,

convinced that a multilateral hemispheric system in the Americas

based on institutions open to real participation by the citizenry will

constitute a sound basis for achieving freedom and social justice.

Building a democratic society requires the permanent integration of

gender perspectives into all public policies, because all aspects of

production, reproduction and caring are relevant to addressing the

inequalities between men and women.

 

All institutions and programs, all policies, laws, agreements and

decisions, be they national, sub-regional or regional, must contain

mechanisms which allow for bringing a gender perspective to bear

and which guarantee women’s active participation and respect

their rights as workers. In addition, public policy

must prevent violence against women, guarantee sexual and reproductive rights and,

take into account women’s unpaid labour in the home.

Adopting a gender perspective implies not only

delivering programs for women, but creating

programs that transform the system of gender

relations, encouraging men and women to make

positive changes that place women and men in a

position of equality. Women’s condition will only

be effectively transformed if such changes are encouraged

through innovative social policies which modify not only economic

structures but also the structures of power and authority so that

women’s rightful role as active agents of social change is fully

acknowledged.

Decision-making in the Inter-American (2) system must be improved,

so that it becomes more effective and representative of the real

needs and desires of our peoples, and therefore capable of

implementing the proposals we put forth in Labour’s Platform for the

Americas.

The following are the measures which we consider necessary:

a. Create decision-making procedures for

tripartite and multipartite labour consultations

under the auspices of the ILO.

b. Link the Inter-American system to sub

regional integration processes while

respecting their autonomy.

c. Establish affirmative action

measures which guarantee that

at least one third of all

representative and consultative

posts will be filled by women.

d. Strengthen the Inter-American

Conference of Labour Ministers.

e. S u b m i t f u n d a m e n t a l

international decisions to citizen

ratification and organize a

system for democratic citizen

appeal of the same.

f. Incorporate a gender perspective into the design of policies and

budgets

g. Guarantee financing for the Inter-American Human Rights

Commission and Court so that they can implement and follow up

on their decisions and sentences.

h. Endorse the Social Charter of the Americas (3), linking it to the

current hemispheric system for human, civil and political,

economic, social and cultural rights and the system’s protective

mechanisms and institutions.

 

2. Economic Objectives which Pursue Sustainable

Development and Focus on Decent Jobs and Full

Employment

 

In order to address the real problems faced by the peoples of the

Americas, we need a new approach to the economy, one that

encourages sustainable development and places decent jobs and

full employment at its heart, acknowledging the active role of the

state. The labour movement of the Americas calls on governments

to abandon policies which seek only to regulate the demand for

labour, and instead adopt policies intended to generate decent

productive jobs.

Our workers’ organizations in the Americas maintain that relevant

policies oriented toward the goal of full employment should meet

the following conditions:

 

Foreign Debt: Indebtedness must not undermine the fight

against poverty or restrict the path to sustainable development. For

the majority of our countries, the foreign debt constitutes one of the

primary obstacles to eradicating poverty and generating

sustainable development. Our union organizations have spoken

out repeatedly on the illegitimate nature of much of that debt

(“odious debt”) and on the barriers which prevent our peoples from

learning where the money came from and where it ended up.

Creditors share responsibility for that debt and it should not be

repaid. Debts owed by the lesser developed countries of the

Americas to the most developed ones should be canceled.

Governments must instead give priority to the fight against poverty

and to the development of countries and regions.

The member states of the Inter-American Development Bank

(IADB), as shareholders, have the obligation to reform that

institution so that approval by national legislatures of recipient

countries is required before loan projects can be considered by the

IADB Board of Directors. National legislatures ought as well to have

the authority to convene hearings on proposed IADB projects and

policies, including the power to subpoena Bank officials. The IADB

must also adopt a safeguard policy in accordance with labour

standards of the International Labour Organization (ILO),

applicable to all projects and policies, including follow-up, and

applicable as well to Bank personnel. The active participation of

national unions in all phases of loan negotiation and project

financing is essential to monitor the social and labour impact of

programs implemented and to ensure transparency and

participation in the entire process.

 

Policy Coherence : Achieving full employment will require

that all relevant policies be oriented toward the goal of creating

decent jobs. This includes macro-economic policies as well as

policies on investment, technological innovation, infrastructure, rational use

of natural resources and the environment, trade, production,

migration, education, social responsibility for domestic and

reproductive work, social services and social security. Governments should

spurn social policies oriented exclusively toward adjusting the

demand for labour, which consider unemployment to be a temporary problem

due to difficulties of “employability.”

 

Investment and Economic Priorities : National

economic policy ought to prioritize productive investment and

universal public social services to address existing inequalities,

rather than structural and monetary adjustment measures.

Governments must insist that foreign investors respect labour rights,

obey national laws and submit to the authority of national judicial

systems. Governments must also seek the reinvestment of profits

so as to guarantee genuine economic development, penalizing

“social dumping” and capital flight.

 

Fiscal Policy and Progressive Taxation : New fiscal

policies and progressive taxation are urgently needed to achieve

improved income distribution, to strengthen the industrial sector, to

provide incentives for technological and scientific innovation and its

application, and to reinforce small and micro enterprises and family

farming. The pursuit of fiscal responsibility and monetary stability is

useful only to the degree that it serves these social goals.

 

Complementary Production : Where there exists

strengths and advantages in production capacity in a particular area

or sector that can contribute in a complementary way to integrated

chains of production, these sectors should be encouraged to

consolidate their advantages by concentrating in zones of

development.

 

Promotion of Local Development : The sustainable

development of local regions should be pursued through projects that link

economic actors emphasizing economies of solidarity which focus on

human beings, fair distribution of wealth, democratic decision-making, and a

commitment to the local reality in which they reside.

 

Infrastructure Integration : Governments must make a

hemispheric commitment to integrate the hemisphere’s

infrastructure in order to promote sustainable development, full

employment and enhanced communication among peoples, and

should do so by completing existing infrastructure projects and

undertaking new ones.

 

Sectoral Policies : Sectoral policies constitute an essential

component of a regional plan for sustainable development and

complementary production. Priority objectives should include

achieving each sector’s systemic competitiveness at the national,

sub-regional and hemispheric levels, drawing up inter-sectoral plans

for industry, trade, infrastructure and finance, and creating special

programs to strengthen micro-enterprises and small and medium-

sized businesses.

 

Family Farming : In ways appropriate to each national

circumstance, governments must support the development of family

farming via policies to guarantee domestic food supply and food

sovereignty. Governments must support an approach to agriculture

which protects the environment, guarantees food to all the

hemisphere’s people and respects the relationship between

communities and their natural environments.

 

Income Distribution : Due to the severe inequalities that

characterize societies in the Americas, a sustained strategy for

redistributing income toward labour should be adopted immediately.

It should be based on full employment, universal unemployment

insurance coverage, living wage policies, tax reform, the provision of

public services and reduction of the workweek.

 

Hemispheric Funds : Structural Funds to assist less

favoured regions and to raise the competitiveness of countries ought

to be created, based on complementary production and built around

the goals of promoting decent employment and achieving economic

reform. Developed countries have an obligation to help eradicate the

asymmetries between our nations. Sub-regional blocs ought to

create Investment Funds for production projects and social

infrastructure. Universal Social Funds also ought to be created in

order to eradicate hunger and poverty, as should Training Funds to

guarantee every working man and woman of the Americas access to

the necessary skills to obtain a decent job and to update those skills as

needed, and Public Health Funds to eradicate HIV/AIDS and other

pandemic diseases. These Funds should be financed through

progressive and sustainable hemispheric-wide taxation.

 

Strengthening Government Capacity : Indebtedness and

financial liberalization have restricted the capacity of government to

stimulate our economies. In addition, speculation and capital flight

have repeatedly disrupted our economies, impoverishing both

citizens and government. Our governments need to regain control

over the market and rebuild their capacity to generate revenue to meet

social needs. To those ends, governments must take collective action

to discourage tax evasion and punish evasion via tax havens. The

Organization of American States (OAS) should take the lead in this

area.

 

Privatizations : Inter-American organizations should ask

member states to review the privatizations they have undertaken.

Governments should evaluate the economic and social impact of

privatizations and their contribution to the formation of oligopolies and

private monopolies, as well as uncover any corruption that may have

occurred, and then take the corrective measures deemed necessary.

Governments must instruct the IADB and other multilateral financial

organisms to conduct a meticulous analysis of the social impact of the

privatization projects in which they have been involved, and not to

consider investments in productive infrastructure as spending when

calculating current accounts.

 

Access to Knowledge : In the Americas, access to scientific and

technological knowledge must be guaranteed in all areas that affect living

organisms, bio-diversity and the traditional knowledge of our peoples. Technology

transfer to lesser developed countries must be facilitated. Wealthy countries ought to

provide adequate compensation for socio- economic losses caused by the migration of

highly trained professionals via the so-called ‘brain-drain’.

 

Large Companies and Multinational Corporations :

Companies must fulfill their social responsibility and their

commitment to social development by adhering strictly and

obligatorily to the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and

Development (OECD) Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, the

United Nations Global Compact, the Tripartite ILO Declaration on

Multinational Enterprises and the International Framework

Agreements in force. They must take an active role in tripartite and

multipartite stakeholder dialogues at national and international

levels, organize their labour relations on the basis of national and

international collective bargaining, and ensure that branch plants and

subcontractors also fulfill their social responsibility.

Small and Micro-Enterprises : These businesses form the nucleus of most

labour-intensive employment. National governments and sub-regional institutions

must take steps to support the sustainable development of small and micro-enterprises,

reducing their tax burden and facilitating financing.

With the same approach and according to particular national conditions,

governments must meet the needs of family farming and promote its development.

 

Jobs for Women : Specific programs for women must be

created to improve their access to the labour

market and to promote equality of opportunity

and treatment, especially regarding wages,

working conditions, labour rights, family

responsibilities and public childcare policy.

 

Jobs for Youth : Policies to support youth

employment are needed to guarantee all rights for

young women and men, with particular attention to

ILO Convention 138 on Minimum Working Age and

182 on the Worst Forms of Child Labour. These

policies must achieve the eradication of rotating

minimum-wage jobs and precarious working

conditions. New jobs should be created for young

workers instead of youth displacing adult workers who also need

employment. The new generation should be educated about their

human, civil, social and labour rights. This will help them join the

working world and will guarantee them opportunities to gain social

and professional skills and community participation.

 

Elimination of Child Labour : Government policies

coordinated at the Inter-American level to eliminate

all forms of child exploitation must be implemented.

This must be undertaken through an integrated

approach which guarantees boys and girls free

public education from pre-school age while ensuring

employment for adults in the family.

 

Education and Professional Training : Governments

must guarantee access to free, quality public

education and ensure continuation through

graduation, so that citizens can fully exercise

their rights. Programs which provide general

education, childcare from birth and

professional training must be broadened to

integrate a gender perspective, and must

provide life-long support so workers can acquire the necessary skills

to join and remain in the workforce.

 

3. Promoting and Fulfilling Social and Labour Rights

 

Formal Employment : There is

an urgent need to substantially increase

the number of decent jobs. To that end,

governments must enact an aggressive

enforcement policy to ensure

compliance with and full respect for

national labour legislation as well as

improvements in said laws.

 

Labour Inspectors : Governments must strengthen all

inspection and enforcement mechanisms so that employers comply

effectively with labour laws. In the short term, the Inter-American

system must require all member states to adopt the basic

conventions of the ILO and to monitor companies’ compliance.

 

Labour Tribunals : In many countries, labour courts are

slow to resolve disputes and thus violate the individual and collective

rights of working men and women. Labour tribunals become

politicized and often unfairly take the side of employers. The

governments of the Americas must ensure that the courts dealing

with labour disputes respect and apply the principle that justice

delayed is justice denied, and fulfill their obligation to defend the

rights of working men and women.

 

Universal Access and Pay-As- You-Go Social Safety Nets :

Providing social services is a critical

responsibility of government because

social security is a human right. There is

an extremely serious predicament in the

Americas because of the exclusion of

tens of millions of workers from the health

and social security systems and related and growing financial

troubles those systems are experiencing. It is urgent to strengthen

these systems by restoring the principle of universal access to

benefits, especially for children and the elderly, by making progress

toward the indivisibility of services and by achieving sustainable

financing with social justice, while at the same time doing away with

approaches based on private profit.

 

Unionization and Collective Bargaining :

To achieve a real improvement in the living conditions of the working men

and women of the Americas, as well as a deepening of democracy, labour

rights must be promoted and mechanisms for collective bargaining

established at all levels. The organizations of working women and

men must be protagonists in the design and implementation of such

mechanisms.

 

Balancing Work and Family : The countries of the

Americas must undertake a serious effort

to balance the needs of family and those

of the workplace, so that work is

compatible with family life and caring for

children, the sick, the disabled and the

elderly. To this end, governments and

regional and sub-regional institutions

must actively pay attention to this issue in

three principal areas:

a) Within companies, considering a reduced workweek without

loss of pay, so that the right of working men and women to

attend to their families’ needs becomes part of companies’

social responsibility.

b) Within society, strengthening public systems, accessible to all

men and women, which support caring for children, the sick,

the disabled and the elderly.

c) Within male-dominated cultures, bestowing social value on

reproductive work and distributing it equitably between men

and women.

 

Discrimination : To guarantee equality of opportunity and

treatment in the workplace, public anti-discrimination policies should

be promoted and strictly enforced by new tripartite sub-regional

boards, which should pay particular attention to discrimination by

gender, race, sexual orientation, national origin and culture. The

rights and labour of sex workers must be respected. Policies

regarding equality of opportunity and treatment must be coordinated,

must include affirmative action and should set indicators to allow for

periodic accounting of progress or lack thereof. The governments in

the Americas must take specific steps to protect and preserve

cultures and indigenous rights.

 

Workers’ Freedom of Movement : One of the principles of

the labour movement of the Americas is the eventual elimination of

restrictions that impede the free movement of persons. In the

Americas, tens of millions of working men and women and

their families are obliged to migrate, pushed out by poverty

and the enormous gulf between rich and poor. For this reason,

we consider it a primary obligation of government to

develop the necessary policies to guarantee our workers’

freedom not to emigrate. For those workers who have emigrated and their families,

no matter their migratory status, the authorities must recognize the floor of rights

guaranteed by the International Convention on the Protection of All

Rights of Migrant Workers and their Families, as well as ILO

Conventions 97 and 143 on Migrant Workers. Governments should

also acknowledge the principle that no one should be sent back to

where their rights have been violated. In addition, ways must be

found in the Americas to link pension systems so that the upheaval

caused by migration is not aggravated by the loss of benefits.

Similarly, a system for validating professional credentials and

degrees must be established so that human resources are not

under-utilized and workers’ professional and other skills obtained in

their countries of origin are respected. The governments of the

Americas must jointly undertake to eradicate abuses in the transfer

of remittances by migrant workers. Similarly, governments must

recognize the principle of non-refoulement contemplated in the

International Convention on the Protection of All the Rights of

Migrant Workers and their Families for the victims of terrorism,

smuggling and trafficking, sexual and labour exploitation, workplace

accidents and repression for union activity.

 

4. A Guarantee That No One Will Be Excluded

There are enormous challenges to overcome in the Americas if

we are to adopt a new approach to economic, social and labour

policy. The social security system must be reformed, given that

it was designed to address only those with formal employment

and thus excludes the majority of the population. It is

practically impossible to imagine a sustainable system of social

security without improving employment levels and increasing

formal employment and family incomes. But it would also be

ethically unsustainable and politically dangerous to democracy

to await job creation via economic recovery before putting new

social policies into effect. As long as the economy is not

generating enough formal jobs, governments must guarantee

social benefits to all working women and men, whether they are

formally or informally employed or unemployed.

To fight poverty effectively, universal access to social services

must be coordinated with job-creation, labour and income

policies, so as not to split society into those who have jobs and

those who receive assistance.

 

5. Making Labour’s Platform for the Americas a Reality

To make Labour’s Platform for the Americas a reality, year by year,

regional and sub-regional follow-up mechanisms will be established,

based on social dialogue and the active participation of civil society.

These mechanisms must be based on short, medium and long-term

goals for government policy, placing full employment and decent jobs

at the heart of the hemisphere’s sustainable development.

To help achieve this objective, the following regional and sub-regional

indicators with national specifications designed from a gender

perspective should be agreed on:

Inequality

Poverty

Unemployment

Informal Employment

Gender Equality

Child Labour

Gender Development Index (UNDP)

Each year, forums created to monitor follow-up on Labour’s Platform

for the Americas should meet and report back to our peoples and

nations on the status of efforts to achieve these proposed goals and

on the measures necessary to implement them.

 

(1 ) An International Labour Organization’s (ILO) definition:

“Decent work means productive work in which rights are protected, which generates

an adequate income, with adequate social protection. It also means sufficient work,

in the sense that all should have full access to income-earning opportunities. It

marks the high road to economic and social development, a road in which

employment, income and social protection can be achieved without compromising

workers’ rights and social standards.”

Source: “Report of the Director-General: Decent Work”, International Labour Office,

Geneva, June 1999. www.ilo.org/public/english/standards/relm/ilc/ilc87/rep-i.htm

 

 

(2 ) The Inter-American system refers to all of the intergovernmental institutions in the hemisphere {Organization of American States (OAS), the Labour Ministers’ Conference (IACML), the Inter-American Human Rights Court and Commission, etc.}

 

(3 ) Proposed by the Government of Venezuela, the Social Charter of the Americas consists of 129 articles that address social and human rights related to health, work, education, basic rights, cultural identity, environmental protection and indigenous peoples. It was submitted for debate to the OAS in August, 2005

Nosotras y Nosotros, las trabajadoras y los trabajadores de las Américas y el Caribe, unidos como hermanos y hermanas en la ORIT, pilule el Consejo Consultivo Laboral Andino, el Congreso Laboral Caribeño, la Coordinadora de Centrales Sindicales del Cono Sur, la Coordinadora Sindical de América Central y el Caribe, y las Centrales sindicales de Canadá, México y Estados Unidos, en nuestro nombre y en el de nuestros hijos e hijas, hacemos oír nuestras voces para reclamar un urgente cambio de rumbo.

Decimos:

La globalización ha tenido costos muy altos para nuestros pueblos. No solo en las regiones marginadas sino también en los países en los que la globalización es percibida como un proceso exitoso. En las Américas, desde el advenimiento del modelo neoliberal, todos los indicadores sociolaborales muestran un deterioro muy significativo: desocupación, precariedad laboral, deterioro de la calidad de vida, persistencia de la pobreza, crecimiento de la desigualdad social. La actitud depredadora del capital sobre los abundantes y desprotegidos recursos naturales, sobre el cuidado del medio ambiente, el insistente abaratamiento y precarización de la mano de obra, las desigualdades de género, clase, raza y etnias considerados como alicientes en la radicación de inversiones cuestionan seriamente la viabilidad sostenible de importantes regiones de las Américas. El grave déficit de trabajo decente está destruyendo los sistemas de seguridad social, volviendo meramente declarativos los derechos del trabajo, anulando toda posibilidad de diálogo social, y haciendo insuficiente el compromiso social de las empresas.

El Consenso de Washington y las políticas económicas neoliberales han demostrado el fracaso de la idea fundamentalista del “libre comercio”.

Nosotros, los millones de trabajadoras y trabajadores forzados a la desocupación, empujados a la pobreza, hundidos en la precariedad y la flexibilidad, obligados a dejar nuestras tierras, exigimos abandonar las actuales políticas económicas neoliberales inspiradas en el fundamentalismo del “libre comercio”. Es urgente adoptar políticas de desarrollo sostenible que pongan en el centro al empleo de calidad con justicia social y construir mecanismos de intervención que permitan incluir a todos los habitantes. Necesitamos nuevas políticas diseñadas desde una perspectiva de género, que tengan como objetivos principales fortalecer la democracia, ampliar los canales de participación de la sociedad en la toma de decisiones nacionales y regionales, reducir la desigualdad, generar empleo decente y trabajo digno1 y adoptar políticas de desarrollo sostenible.

Es imprescindible fortalecer los procesos de integración subregional como respuesta a los Tratados de Libre Comercio que solo profundizan la brecha entre y dentro de los países empobrecidos y países ricos. Sabemos que los procesos de integración regional no se expresan de la misma forma en todo el continente. Entendemos que estos pueden ser instrumentos importantes en la medida que no encubran formas de dominación de unos países sobre otros, tal como acontece con los Tratados de Libre Comercio y de Inversiones.

Por ello proponemos esta Plataforma Laboral de las Américas como punto de partida para iniciar un nuevo rumbo histórico para todos nuestros pueblos y naciones, capaz de proyectarse a todos los hombres y mujeres del mundo.

1.

Por un nuevo consenso Democrático con Soberanía popular y Perspectiva de Género

Sin democracia, perspectiva de género y derechos humanos en todas partes, no será posible abrir un nuevo rumbo en las Américas.

Los pueblos y las naciones de las Américas necesitamos con urgencia un nuevo consenso fundado en los siguientes presupuestos:

Fortalecimiento de la democracia y vigencia plena de todos los derechos humanos,

Ampliación de los canales de participación de la sociedad en la toma de decisiones nacionales y supranacionales

Justicia Social

Perspectiva de género,

No discriminación de clase, raza, etnia, religión y orientación sexual.

Pleno Empleo como eje del desarrollo sostenible

Sociedades sin excluidos/as

Reconstrucción de la capacidad de los Estados para tomar medidas proactivas.

Reivindicamos y defendemos la autodeterminación de los pueblos y de los Estados, convencidos que un sistema multilateral en las Américas con instituciones abiertas a la participación real de la sociedad constituye el punto de partida para lograr la libertad y la justicia social.

La construcción de una sociedad de trabajo democrática debe incluir la perspectiva de género de forma permanente y transversal al conjunto de las políticas públicas. Esto significa entender que, tanto los aspectos de la producción como los de la reproducción y el cuidado de la vida, deben ser considerados en el proceso de superación de las desigualdades entre hombres y mujeres. Todas las instituciones y proyectos, todas las políticas, todas las leyes, tratados y decisiones, nacionales, subregionales y regionales, deben contener mecanismos que permitan incluir la perspectiva de género, garantizar la participación activa de las mujeres, respetar sus derechos como trabajadoras, considerar alguna forma especial de medición del trabajo no remunerado en el hogar, prevenir la violencia contra la mujer y garantizar los derechos sexuales y reproductivos.

Adoptar una perspectiva de género no debe significar meramente orientar programas hacia las mujeres, sino elaborar programas que incidan en las relaciones de género, impulsando a hombres y mujeres a producir cambios positivos en las estructuras para lograr posiciones equitativas entre mujeres y hombres. La condición de las mujeres solo podrá transformarse efectivamente si se impulsan los cambios a través de nuevas políticas sociales que modifiquen no sólo las estructuras económicas sino las estructuras de poder y autoridad para que a las mujeres se les reconozca su rol de agentes activos de los procesos sociales.

Es necesario reformar el sistema interamericano de toma de decisiones para que resulte más eficaz y representativo de las necesidades reales y deseos de nuestros pueblos y para que pueda llevar adelante las propuestas que expresamos en esta Plataforma Laboral de las Américas.

Entre las medidas que consideramos necesarias, proponemos:

1.

Crear mecanismos y procedimientos de decisión y consulta tripartitos y multipartitos de carácter sociolaboral articulados con la OIT.
2.

Articulación del sistema interamericano con los procesos de integración subregionales sin afectar su autonomía.
3.

Establecer medidas de acción positiva que garanticen que al menos un tercio de los cargos representativos y consultivos sea desempeñado por mujeres.
4.

Fortalecimiento de la Conferencia Interamericana de Ministros de Trabajo.
5.

Someter las decisiones supranacionales fundamentales a mecanismos de convalidación ciudadana y organizar un sistema de reclamos democráticos al que puedan apelar los ciudadanos.
6.

Inclusión de la perspectiva de género en el diseño de las políticas y presupuestos.
7.

Asegurar el financiamiento para la Comisión y Corte Interamericana de Derechos Humanos, a fin de garantizar su funcionamiento y la ejecución y seguimiento de sus decisiones y sentencias.
8.

Sancionar la Carta Social de las Américas articulándola con el sistema interamericano de derechos humanos, civiles y políticos, económicos, sociales y culturales vigente y sus mecanismos e instancias de protección.

1.

Por una economía que impulse un desarrollo sostenible y ponga en el centro al empleo decente y al trabajo digno.

Para resolver los problemas reales de los pueblos de las Américas hay que poner en marcha una economía de nuevo enfoque que impulse un desarrollo sostenible y coloque en el centro al pleno empleo y trabajo digno, reconociendo un rol activo del Estado. El movimiento sindical de las Américas insta a los gobiernos a abandonar las políticas que sólo pretenden adecuar la demanda de trabajo, y adoptar una batería de políticas socioeconómicas coordinadas en dirección a la generación de empleo productivo y trabajo digno.

Las organizaciones de los trabajadores y las trabajadoras de las Américas sostenemos que una política activa para la generación de pleno empleo debe abordar simultáneamente las siguientes dimensiones:

Deuda externa: La deuda no debe impedir la lucha contra la pobreza y debe simultáneamente favorecer el desarrollo sostenible. La Deuda Externa es, para la mayoría de nuestros países, uno de los obstáculos principales para eliminar la pobreza y generar un desarrollo sostenible. Hemos expuesto reiteradamente la ilegitimidad de gran parte de la deuda (“deuda odiosa”) y los obstáculos que impiden que los pueblos conozcan los orígenes y destinos de los préstamos. Esa deuda no debe ser pagada, porque también existe corresponsabilidad de los acreedores. Las deudas de los países más pobres con los más desarrollados y con las instituciones multilaterales de crédito deben ser anuladas. Los gobiernos deben priorizar la lucha contra la pobreza y el desarrollo de los países y las regiones.

Los Estados, como miembros accionistas del Banco Interamericano de Desarrollo, tienen la obligación de reformar dicha institución, requiriendo la aprobación de las legislaturas nacionales de los proyectos de esta institución crediticia en forma previa a ser considerados por el Consejo Directivo del BID. Los poderes legislativos nacionales deben también, tener facultades vinculantes para convocar audiencias sobre los proyectos propuestos y las políticas del BID, con capacidad de interpelar a los funcionarios de este organismo. El BID debe adoptar una política de salvaguardia conforme a los estándares laborales de la OIT, aplicable a todos los proyectos y políticas, incluyendo acciones de seguimiento, los cuales también deben alcanzar al personal del propio Banco. Resulta imprescindible la intervención de los sindicatos nacionales en todas las fases de los proyectos de préstamos y financiamiento de tal forma de observar el impacto sociolaboral de los programas ejecutados, asegurando transparencia y participación en todo el proceso.

Conjunción de políticas. Para que una política activa de generación de pleno empleo sea eficaz es necesaria la conjunción de políticas macroeconómicas, de inversión, de innovación tecnológica, de infraestructura, de uso racional de los recursos naturales y medio ambiente, comercial, productiva, migratoria, educativa, de responsabilidad social con las tareas domésticas y reproductivas, de seguridad y previsión social, con el fin de orientarlas a la generación de trabajo digno. Los gobiernos deben desestimar las políticas orientadas exclusivamente a adecuar la demanda de trabajo y que consideran al desempleo como un problema temporal debido a dificultades de “empleabilidad”.

Inversión y prioridades de la economía. Las políticas económicas nacionales deben priorizar las inversiones productivas y las políticas públicas sociales universales que busquen eliminar las desigualdades existentes, desestimando la aplicación de medidas de ajuste estructural y monetario. Es necesario exigir a los inversionistas extranjeros el cumplimiento de los derechos laborales y someterse a la legislación y tribunales nacionales. Los Estados deben bregar por la reinversión de utilidades que garanticen el desarrollo genuino de la economía, penalizando el dumping social y la fuga de capitales.

Política fiscal y tributaria progresiva. Es urgente diseñar nuevas políticas fiscales y tributarias progresivas volcadas hacia la mejora de la distribución de la renta, el fortalecimiento del sector industrial, el incentivo a la innovación tecnológica y científica y su aplicación en los procesos productivos, el reforzamiento de la pequeña y micro empresa y de la agricultura familiar. Las políticas de responsabilidad fiscal, de estabilidad financiera y monetaria deben estar subordinadas a las metas sociales.

Complementación productiva. La integración de las cadenas productivas debe impulsar el desarrollo de los aglomerados sectoriales existentes bajo el concepto de “complementación productiva” e inducir a aquellos sectores que estén en condiciones de consolidar polos de desarrollo por sus ventajas derivadas.

La promoción del desarrollo local a través de la implementación de proyectos que asocien a los agentes económicos con énfasis en la economía solidaria, que tenga como centro al ser humano, una justa distribución de la riqueza, la democracia en la toma de decisiones y compromiso con el espacio territorial donde se desenvuelve.

Integración de infraestructuras. Los Estados deberán asumir el compromiso continental de lograr una verdadera integración de infraestructuras del continente, destinada a promover el desarrollo sostenible, el pleno empleo y la comunicación de los pueblos, concretando con ese sentido los proyectos de infraestructura existentes y elaborando nuevos proyectos.

Políticas sectoriales. Las políticas sectoriales constituyen un componente esencial para la construcción de un plan regional de desarrollo sostenible y complementación productiva. Deben ser objetivos prioritarios las acciones destinadas a la competitividad sistémica de los sectores tanto a escala nacional, subregional y continental, la elaboración de planes intersectoriales de industria, comercio, infraestructura y finanzas, y regímenes especiales para el fortalecimiento de microempresas y PyMES.

Agricultura familiar. Los Estados, de acuerdo a las particularidades nacionales, deberán atender las necesidades y el desarrollo de la agricultura familiar con políticas orientadas a garantizar el abastecimiento interno y la soberanía alimentaria. Los gobiernos deben apoyar una política agrícola que no degrade el ecosistema, garantice la alimentación de toda la población del continente y respete la interrelación de las comunidades con su medio ambiente.

Redistribución de la renta. Debido a la alta desigualdad social generada en las Américas se debe implantar ya y sostener en el tiempo una estrategia de redistribución de la renta a favor del Trabajo mediante políticas de pleno empleo y protección universal de los/las desocupados/as, de salario mínimo y crecimiento salarial, y reforma tributaria, de servicios públicos y de reducción de la jornada laboral.

Fondos Continentales. Se deben crear Fondos Estructurales, destinados a las regiones menos favorecidas y elevar la competitividad de los Estados en base a la complementación productiva, teniendo como eje rector la promoción del trabajo digno y la reconversión económica. Los países desarrollados tienen una responsabilidad ineludible en lo que refiere a la eliminación de las asimetrías entre nuestras naciones. Los bloques subregionales deben crear Fondos de Inversión en proyectos productivos y programas sociales. Se deben crear Fondos Sociales universales, destinados a erradicar el hambre y la pobreza; Fondos de Capacitación, orientados a garantizar a cada trabajador y trabajadora de las Américas el ejercicio de sus potencialidades y sus habilidades necesarias para acceder a un empleo digno y mantenerlas actualizadas y Fondos de Salud Pública, para erradicar el VIH/SIDA y otras endemias continentales. Los Fondos serán financiados por impuestos en el ámbito de las Américas de carácter progresivo y naturaleza sostenible.

Rol activo del Estado. En el área de políticas macroeconómicas, el endeudamiento y la liberalización financiera han generado como consecuencia la limitación en la capacidad gubernamental para conducir nuestras economías. Los capitales especulativos y la fuga de capitales han impactado negativamente en el desarrollo económico, empobreciendo a nuestra población y a los propios Estados. Concluimos que nuestros Estados deben retomar el control y poder sobre el mercado. En general, deben reconstruir su capacidad de generar ingresos para satisfacer las necesidades sociales. Esto significa, entre otras cosas, tomar medidas activas colectivas para evitar prácticas fiscales que lleven a la evasión impositiva y que castigue las prácticas de elusión a través de los denominados paraísos fiscales. La OEA tiene un papel predominante en esta área.

Privatizaciones. Los organismos interamericanos deben solicitar a los Estados miembros la revisión de las privatizaciones. Los gobiernos evaluarán el impacto económico y social, la conformación de oligopolios y monopolios privados y eventuales actos de corrupción con el fin de tomar las medidas correctivas que resulten necesarias. Los Estados deben instruir al BID y otros organismos financieros multilaterales para que conduzcan un análisis meticuloso del impacto social de los proyectos de privatización en los que están involucrados y consideren que las inversiones productivas en infraestructura no sean computadas como gastos corrientes para fines de cálculo del superávit primario.

Acceso al conocimiento. En las Américas se debe garantizar el acceso al conocimiento desarrollado en la ciencia y la tecnología en todas las áreas que afecten a la vida, la biodiversidad y los conocimientos tradicionales de nuestros pueblos. En esta materia se debe facilitar los procesos de transferencia y acceso a la tecnología por parte de los países menos desarrollados. Los países más ricos debieran compensar adecuadamente las pérdidas socioeconómicas que implican el empleo de migrantes de alta capacitación en los llamados procesos de “fuga de cerebros”.

Grandes empresas y empresas multinacionales. Las empresas deben asumir su responsabilidad social y compromiso con el desarrollo integral de la sociedad, ajustando obligatoriamente su actuación a las Directrices sobre Empresas Multinacionales de la OCDE, el Global Compact de las Naciones Unidas, la Declaración Tripartita la OIT sobre Empresas Multinacionales, y los Acuerdos Marco Internacionales en vigencia, recurriendo activamente al diálogo social tripartito y multipartito a nivel nacional e internacional, y organizando sus relaciones laborales sobre la base de la negociación colectiva, nacional y supranacional y garantizando la responsabilidad social de sus empresas satélites y contratistas.

Pequeñas y Micro Empresas. Estas empresas son el núcleo del empleo intensivo de mano de obra. Los Estados Nacionales y los órganos subregionales con capacidad decisoria deben tomar medidas de apoyo al desarrollo y durabilidad de las pequeñas y micro empresas, reduciendo la carga fiscal y facilitando el financiamiento. Con la misma orientación los Estados, de acuerdo a las particularidades nacionales, deben atender las necesidades y el desarrollo de la agricultura familiar.

Empleo para Mujeres. Deben ponerse en marcha programas específicos para las mujeres buscando un mejor acceso al mercado de trabajo y medidas para promover la igualdad de oportunidades y trato, en especial en lo que se refiere a salarios, condiciones y derechos laborales, responsabilidades familiares y políticas públicas de cuidado infantil.

Empleo para Jóvenes. Deben ponerse en marcha programas de Empleo Juvenil que garanticen y contemplen todos los derechos para las y los jóvenes, con particular atención a los Convenios de OIT 138 de Edad Mínima para el Empleo y 182 sobre las Peores Formas de Trabajo Infantil. Estas políticas deben asegurar la eliminación de prácticas de rotación laboral juvenil, precarización de las relaciones laborales y/o sustitución de adultos por jóvenes en los puestos de trabajo existentes. Estas medidas específicas deben propender a la inserción en el mundo de trabajo de las nuevas generaciones, asegurar las oportunidades de calificación social y profesional de los y las jóvenes, y la participación social para el ejercicio de los derechos humanos, políticos, sociales y sindicales.

Eliminación del trabajo infantil. Implementar políticas de Estado en el ámbito interamericano para la eliminación de todas las formas de explotación infantil, con un abordaje de carácter integral que garantice la asistencia de los niños y las niñas al sistema escolar público y gratuito desde la edad preescolar, garantizando el pleno empleo para los adultos del núcleo familiar.

Educación y Formación Profesional. Los Estados deben garantizar el acceso y permanencia de la educación pública, gratuita, de calidad para el ejercicio pleno de la ciudadanía. Ampliar los programas de educación y de formación profesional, diseñados desde una perspectiva de género e inclusión de los y las jóvenes, buscando la formación permanente y contínua y la adquisición de las calificaciones para insertarse en el mundo del trabajo.

3. Promoción y cumplimiento los derechos sociolaborales

Empleo formal. Es urgente producir un aumento sustancial de la formalidad laboral. Para ello los gobiernos deben impulsar una política activa de fiscalización, el pleno respeto y mejoramiento a las legislaciones laborales nacionales.

Inspección del trabajo. Los Estados deben fortalecer todos los mecanismos de Inspección y sanción laboral para que los empleadores cumplan efectivamente las leyes laborales. A corto plazo todos los Estados en las Américas deben comprometerse a adoptar y vigilar el cumplimiento por parte de las empresas de las normas básicas del trabajo de la OIT.

Justicia Laboral: En muchos países, los tribunales laborales retardan la aplicación de la justicia para resolver sobre los conflictos laborales violando los derechos individuales y colectivos de los y las trabajadores/as. Las instancias de justicia laboral se politizan y actúan sin objetividad favoreciendo los intereses de los empleadores. Los Estados de las Américas deben garantizar que las instancias que deben resolver asuntos laborales respeten y apliquen el principio de justicia pronta y cumplida en beneficio de los derechos de los trabajadores y trabajadoras.

Universalidad y Solidaridad de la seguridad social. La seguridad social, como Derecho Humano, es responsabilidad ineludible del Estado. Las Américas enfrentan una situación de extrema gravedad debido a la exclusión de decenas de millones de trabajadores de todo el sistema de salud y seguridad social, y consecuentemente su creciente desfinanciamiento. Es urgente fortalecerlos, recuperando los principios de universalidad y solidaridad de las prestaciones, en especial en la niñez y la vejez, la progresión hacia la integralidad de las mismas y un financiamiento sustentable con justicia social, desterrando los modelos de seguridad social fundados en el lucro privado.

Sindicalización y negociación colectiva. Para que esta propuesta de un paradigma productivo con justicia social para las Américas signifique una mejora real de las condiciones de vida de los trabajadores y trabajadoras y una profundización de la democracia, es indispensable que se promuevan los derechos sindicales y se instalen los mecanismos de negociación colectiva en todos los niveles. Las organizaciones de trabajadoras y trabajadores deben ser protagonistas en el diseño e implementación de estos mecanismos.

Equilibrar familia y trabajo. Los países de las Américas deben realizar un serio esfuerzo para equilibrar las necesidades familiares y laborales de los trabajadores y trabajadoras, para que el trabajo sea compatible con las familias y el cuidado de los niños, enfermos, discapacitados y ancianos. Para ello, los gobiernos e instituciones regionales y subregionales deben promover activamente la atención del problema en tres ámbitos principales:

1.

en la empresa, evaluando la reducción de la jornada de trabajo sin disminución de salario para que se asuma como una responsabilidad social de la empresa el derecho de las y los trabajadoras /es de atender a sus familias.
2.

en la sociedad fortaleciendo los sistemas públicos accesibles a todos y todas para apoyar el cuidado de los niños, enfermos, discapacitados y ancianos
3.

en la cultura de los varones, para valorar socialmente el trabajo reproductivo y distribuirlo entre varones y mujeres con un sentido de igualdad.

Discriminación. Para garantizar la igualdad de oportunidades y trato en el trabajo deben crearse ámbitos tripartitos subregionales que tengan como misión promover las políticas públicas antidiscriminatorias y realizar un estricto seguimiento de las mismas, en especial la situación de la discriminación por género, raza, orientación sexual, origen nacional y cultural. Se deben proteger los derechos de los/as trabajadores/as sexuales e impedir su trato discriminatorio. Las políticas de igualdad de oportunidades y de trato deben ser coordinadas, contemplar medidas de acción positiva y establecer indicadores que permitan rendir cuenta periódicamente de los avances o retrocesos en las brechas por discriminación. Las Américas deben establecer medidas específicas de protección y preservación de las culturas y los derechos de los pueblos indígenas.

Libertad de circulación de los trabajadores. Uno de los principios del movimiento sindical de las Américas es la eliminación de las restricciones que impiden la libre de circulación de las personas. En las Américas decenas de millones de trabajadores y trabajadoras y sus familiares, se ven obligados a migrar empujados por la pobreza y las enormes asimetrías socio-económicas del Continente. Por eso consideramos que la primera obligación de los gobiernos es desarrollar las políticas necesarias para garantizar efectivamente la libertad de no emigrar de nuestros trabajadores y trabajadoras. Para los trabajadores que han migrado y sus familiares, cualquiera sea su situación migratoria, es necesario garantizar en todo el Continente, el piso de derechos que garantizan la Convención Internacional Sobre la Protección de Todos los Derechos de los Trabajadores Migrantes y sus Familiares y los Convenios 97 y 143 de la OIT sobre Trabajadores Migrantes y reconocer el principio de no repatriación cuando se hayan violado sus derechos. Finalmente las Américas deben articular los sistemas de pensiones de tal forma que al desarraigo que genera la migración no sea agravado con la pérdida de sus aportes, establecer un sistema de validación de las certificaciones profesionales y títulos de educación formal que impida la subutilización de recursos humanos, respetando la calificación profesional y laboral alcanzada en su país de origen. Las Américas deben crear mecanismos continentales para eliminar los abusos de la intermediación financiera con las remesas de los y las trabajadoras/es migrantes. Asimismo, se debe reconocer el principio de no repatriación contemplado en Convención Internacional sobre la Protección de Todos los Derechos de los Trabajadores Migrantes y sus Familiares para las víctimas de terrorismo, trafico y trata (smuggling & traffiking), explotación sexual y laboral, accidentes de trabajo y represión por actividad sindical.

4. Garantizar una sociedad sin excluidos.

Las Américas se encuentran en la actualidad frente a enormes desafíos para encarar una nueva orientación de las políticas económicas y sociolaborales. Sin lugar a dudas, deberán implementar una reforma de su sistema de protección social, que al haber sido diseñado en función del sector formal del empleo, excluye de sus beneficios a la mayor parte de la población. Es prácticamente imposible imaginar una política social sustentable, sin mejorar las tasas de empleo, de formalidad, y los niveles de ingresos de las familias. Pero también es éticamente insostenible y políticamente peligroso para el fortalecimiento del sistema democrático, esperar a la creación de los nuevos puestos de trabajo sobre la variable de la recuperación de la economía, para poner en marcha esas medidas. Mientras la economía no genere trabajos genuinos, los Estados nacionales deberán asegurar la protección social a todas y todos las y los trabajadoras/es, sean éstos formales, informales o desocupados.

Es fundamental la articulación de políticas de protección social universal con políticas de generación de empleo, trabajo e ingresos, evitando la cristalización de una sociedad dividida entre quienes tienen trabajo y quienes son asistidos, como forma de combate efectivo contra la pobreza.

1.

Haciendo realidad la Plataforma Laboral de las Américas

Para que esta Plataforma Laboral de las Américas se haga realidad año a año se establecerán mecanismos e instancias de seguimiento regional y subregional, fundado en el diálogo social y la activa participación de la sociedad civil. Estos mecanismos e instancias se orientaran con metas de corto, mediano y largo plazo, que construyan políticas de Estado que ponga al pleno empleo y trabajo digno en el centro del desarrollo sostenible del continente.

Para ayudar a estos objetivos se elaborarán indicadores regionales y subregionales básicos, con especificaciones nacionales y perspectiva de género:

Desigualdad

Pobreza

Desocupación

Empleo informal

Igualdad de género

Trabajo Infantil

Índice de desarrollo de género (PNUD)

Cada año las instancias creadas para el seguimiento de la Plataforma Laboral de las Américas deberán reunirse e informar a nuestros pueblos y naciones la situación de las metas propuestas cumplidas y las medidas necesarias para implementarlas.


1 La referencia a empleo decente y trabajo digno en toda la plataforma refiere a la existencia concreta de pleno empleo para todos y todas, hombres y mujeres de las Américas.

Labour's platform for the Americas

 

We, the working women and men of the Americas and the

Caribbean, united as brothers and sisters in the Inter-American

Regional Workers’ Organization (ORIT), the Andean Labour

Consultative Council (CCLA), the Caribbean Congress of Labour

(CCL), the Central America and Caribbean Union Coordination

(CCSCAC), the Southern Cone Union Coordination (CCSCS) and

the national labour centrals of Canada, the United States and

Mexico, are speaking with one voice on behalf of ourselves and our

sons and daughters, to demand an urgent change of course.

 

We declare:

 

Globalization has exacted a very high toll from our

peoples, not only those living in marginalized regions,

but also in countries where globalization is perceived to

have been a success. Since the free-market model was

introduced in the Americas, every indicator of social

well-being and working conditions has deteriorated

significantly: employment, job stability, the quality of life, social mobility

rates and levels of equality. The predatory attitude of capital toward

our hemisphere’s abundant and unprotected natural resources and

toward stewardship of the environment, the insistent cheapening of the

cost of labour and its increasing precariousness, growing inequalities

regarding gender, class, race and ethnic origin all considered

incentives to attract investment place in serious jeopardy the survival

of important regions of the Americas. The scarcity of decent jobs has

frayed the social safety net, reducing labour rights to mere

declarations, annulling the potential of social dialogue between

government, business and labour, and undermining companies’

commitment to their social responsibility.

 

Our experience with the Washington Consensus and the neo-liberal

economic policies stemming from it has shown the fundamentalist

notion of “free trade” to be bankrupt.

We, the millions of working women and men forced into

unemployment, pushed into poverty, battered by precarious working

conditions and labour flexibility, obliged to leave our farms and our

homes, urge the governments of the Americas to abandon the

policies inspired by free-market fundamentalism. The hemisphere is

in urgent need of an approach to sustainable development which

places decent jobs and social justice at its heart, and the creation of

mechanisms for the state to ensure no citizen is left behind. We need

new policies designed from a gender perspective, which seek

primarily to strengthen democracy, broaden opportunities for citizens

to participate in decision-making at national and regional levels,

reduce inequality, create decent work with dignified working

conditions and full employment for all men and women in the

Americas (1). Ongoing processes of sub-regional integration must

be strengthened as an alternative to neo-liberal free trade agreements which have only deepened the gulf between rich and poor, both between countries and within them. We know that there are different

approaches to regional integration, and therefore we understand that they can bring positive benefits, as long as they do not disguise efforts by certain countries to dominate others, as has occurred with some neo-liberal free trade and investment agreements. For these reasons, we propose this Labour Platform for the Americas as a point of departure for a new way forward for all of our peoples and our nations, with potential relevance for men and women across the world.

 

1. A New Democratic Consensus with Popular Sovereignty and a Gender Perspective

Without fully embracing democracy, a gender perspective and human rights, there will be no new

way forward for the Americas. The peoples and nations of the Americas urgently seek a new consensus based on the following objectives:

 

Strengthening democracy and achieving full

respect for human rights;

 

Broadening the channels for citizen participation in national

and international decision-making;

 

Achieving social justice;

 

Integrating a gender perspective into all policies;

 

Eliminating all forms of discrimination on the basis of class,

race, ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation;

 

Establishing full employment as the basis for sustainable

development;

 

Ensuring no man, woman or child is excluded from our

societies; and

 

Rebuilding the capacity of governments to take pro-active

measures.

 

We support and defend the self- determination of peoples and states,

convinced that a multilateral hemispheric system in the Americas

based on institutions open to real participation by the citizenry will

constitute a sound basis for achieving freedom and social justice.

Building a democratic society requires the permanent integration of

gender perspectives into all public policies, because all aspects of

production, reproduction and caring are relevant to addressing the

inequalities between men and women.

 

All institutions and programs, all policies, laws, agreements and

decisions, be they national, sub-regional or regional, must contain

mechanisms which allow for bringing a gender perspective to bear

and which guarantee women’s active participation and respect

their rights as workers. In addition, public policy

must prevent violence against women, guarantee sexual and reproductive rights and,

take into account women’s unpaid labour in the home.

Adopting a gender perspective implies not only delivering programs for women, but creating

programs that transform the system of gender relations, encouraging men and women to make

positive changes that place women and men in a position of equality. Women’s condition will only

be effectively transformed if such changes are encouraged through innovative social policies which modify not only economic structures but also the structures of power and authority so that

women’s rightful role as active agents of social change is fully acknowledged.

Decision-making in the Inter-American (2) system must be improved, so that it becomes more effective and representative of the real needs and desires of our peoples, and therefore capable of

implementing the proposals we put forth in Labour’s Platform for the Americas.

 

The following are the measures which we consider necessary:

 

a. Create decision-making procedures for tripartite and multipartite labour consultations

under the auspices of the ILO.

 

b. Link the Inter-American system to sub regional integration processes while respecting their autonomy.

 

c. Establish affirmative action measures which guarantee that at least one third of all representative and consultative posts will be filled by women.

 

d. Strengthen the Inter-American Conference of Labour Ministers.

 

e. Submit fundamental international decisions to citizen ratification and organize a system for democratic citizen appeal of the same.

 

f. Incorporate a gender perspective into the design of policies and budgets

 

g. Guarantee financing for the Inter-American Human Rights Commission and Court so that they can implement and follow up on their decisions and sentences.

 

h. Endorse the Social Charter of the Americas (3), linking it to the current hemispheric system for human, civil and political, economic, social and cultural rights and the system’s protective

mechanisms and institutions.

 

2. Economic Objectives which Pursue Sustainable

Development and Focus on Decent Jobs and Full Employment

 

In order to address the real problems faced by the peoples of the

Americas, we need a new approach to the economy, one that

encourages sustainable development and places decent jobs and

full employment at its heart, acknowledging the active role of the

state. The labour movement of the Americas calls on governments

to abandon policies which seek only to regulate the demand for

labour, and instead adopt policies intended to generate decent

productive jobs.

Our workers’ organizations in the Americas maintain that relevant

policies oriented toward the goal of full employment should meet

the following conditions:

 

Foreign Debt: Indebtedness must not undermine the fight

against poverty or restrict the path to sustainable development. For

the majority of our countries, the foreign debt constitutes one of the

primary obstacles to eradicating poverty and generating

sustainable development. Our union organizations have spoken

out repeatedly on the illegitimate nature of much of that debt

(“odious debt”) and on the barriers which prevent our peoples from

learning where the money came from and where it ended up.

Creditors share responsibility for that debt and it should not be

repaid. Debts owed by the lesser developed countries of the

Americas to the most developed ones should be canceled.

Governments must instead give priority to the fight against poverty

and to the development of countries and regions.

The member states of the Inter-American Development Bank

(IADB), as shareholders, have the obligation to reform that

institution so that approval by national legislatures of recipient

countries is required before loan projects can be considered by the

IADB Board of Directors. National legislatures ought as well to have

the authority to convene hearings on proposed IADB projects and

policies, including the power to subpoena Bank officials. The IADB

must also adopt a safeguard policy in accordance with labour

standards of the International Labour Organization (ILO),

applicable to all projects and policies, including follow-up, and

applicable as well to Bank personnel. The active participation of

national unions in all phases of loan negotiation and project

financing is essential to monitor the social and labour impact of

programs implemented and to ensure transparency and

participation in the entire process.

 

Policy Coherence : Achieving full employment will require

that all relevant policies be oriented toward the goal of creating

decent jobs. This includes macro-economic policies as well as

policies on investment, technological innovation, infrastructure, rational use

of natural resources and the environment, trade, production,

migration, education, social responsibility for domestic and

reproductive work, social services and social security. Governments should

spurn social policies oriented exclusively toward adjusting the

demand for labour, which consider unemployment to be a temporary problem

due to difficulties of “employability.”

 

Investment and Economic Priorities : National

economic policy ought to prioritize productive investment and

universal public social services to address existing inequalities,

rather than structural and monetary adjustment measures.

Governments must insist that foreign investors respect labour rights,

obey national laws and submit to the authority of national judicial

systems. Governments must also seek the reinvestment of profits

so as to guarantee genuine economic development, penalizing

“social dumping” and capital flight.

 

Fiscal Policy and Progressive Taxation : New fiscal

policies and progressive taxation are urgently needed to achieve

improved income distribution, to strengthen the industrial sector, to

provide incentives for technological and scientific innovation and its

application, and to reinforce small and micro enterprises and family

farming. The pursuit of fiscal responsibility and monetary stability is

useful only to the degree that it serves these social goals.

 

Complementary Production : Where there exists

strengths and advantages in production capacity in a particular area

or sector that can contribute in a complementary way to integrated

chains of production, these sectors should be encouraged to

consolidate their advantages by concentrating in zones of

development.

 

Promotion of Local Development : The sustainable

development of local regions should be pursued through projects that link

economic actors emphasizing economies of solidarity which focus on

human beings, fair distribution of wealth, democratic decision-making, and a

commitment to the local reality in which they reside.

 

Infrastructure Integration : Governments must make a

hemispheric commitment to integrate the hemisphere’s

infrastructure in order to promote sustainable development, full

employment and enhanced communication among peoples, and

should do so by completing existing infrastructure projects and

undertaking new ones.

 

Sectoral Policies : Sectoral policies constitute an essential

component of a regional plan for sustainable development and

complementary production. Priority objectives should include

achieving each sector’s systemic competitiveness at the national,

sub-regional and hemispheric levels, drawing up inter-sectoral plans

for industry, trade, infrastructure and finance, and creating special

programs to strengthen micro-enterprises and small and medium-

sized businesses.

 

Family Farming : In ways appropriate to each national

circumstance, governments must support the development of family

farming via policies to guarantee domestic food supply and food

sovereignty. Governments must support an approach to agriculture

which protects the environment, guarantees food to all the

hemisphere’s people and respects the relationship between

communities and their natural environments.

 

Income Distribution : Due to the severe inequalities that

characterize societies in the Americas, a sustained strategy for

redistributing income toward labour should be adopted immediately.

It should be based on full employment, universal unemployment

insurance coverage, living wage policies, tax reform, the provision of

public services and reduction of the workweek.

 

Hemispheric Funds : Structural Funds to assist less

favoured regions and to raise the competitiveness of countries ought

to be created, based on complementary production and built around

the goals of promoting decent employment and achieving economic

reform. Developed countries have an obligation to help eradicate the

asymmetries between our nations. Sub-regional blocs ought to

create Investment Funds for production projects and social

infrastructure. Universal Social Funds also ought to be created in

order to eradicate hunger and poverty, as should Training Funds to

guarantee every working man and woman of the Americas access to

the necessary skills to obtain a decent job and to update those skills as

needed, and Public Health Funds to eradicate HIV/AIDS and other

pandemic diseases. These Funds should be financed through

progressive and sustainable hemispheric-wide taxation.

 

Strengthening Government Capacity : Indebtedness and

financial liberalization have restricted the capacity of government to

stimulate our economies. In addition, speculation and capital flight

have repeatedly disrupted our economies, impoverishing both

citizens and government. Our governments need to regain control

over the market and rebuild their capacity to generate revenue to meet

social needs. To those ends, governments must take collective action

to discourage tax evasion and punish evasion via tax havens. The

Organization of American States (OAS) should take the lead in this

area.

 

Privatizations : Inter-American organizations should ask

member states to review the privatizations they have undertaken.

Governments should evaluate the economic and social impact of

privatizations and their contribution to the formation of oligopolies and

private monopolies, as well as uncover any corruption that may have

occurred, and then take the corrective measures deemed necessary.

Governments must instruct the IADB and other multilateral financial

organisms to conduct a meticulous analysis of the social impact of the

privatization projects in which they have been involved, and not to

consider investments in productive infrastructure as spending when

calculating current accounts.

 

Access to Knowledge : In the Americas, access to scientific and

technological knowledge must be guaranteed in all areas that affect living

organisms, bio-diversity and the traditional knowledge of our peoples. Technology

transfer to lesser developed countries must be facilitated. Wealthy countries ought to

provide adequate compensation for socio- economic losses caused by the migration of

highly trained professionals via the so-called ‘brain-drain’.

 

Large Companies and Multinational Corporations :

Companies must fulfill their social responsibility and their commitment to social development by adhering strictly and obligatorily to the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and

Development (OECD) Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, the United Nations Global Compact, the Tripartite ILO Declaration on Multinational Enterprises and the International Framework

Agreements in force. They must take an active role in tripartite and multipartite stakeholder dialogues at national and international levels, organize their labour relations on the basis of national and

international collective bargaining, and ensure that branch plants and subcontractors also fulfill their social responsibility.

 

Small and Micro-Enterprises : These businesses form the nucleus of most

labour-intensive employment. National governments and sub-regional institutions

must take steps to support the sustainable development of small and micro-enterprises,

reducing their tax burden and facilitating financing. With the same approach and according to particular national conditions, governments must meet the needs of family farming and promote its development.

 

Jobs for Women : Specific programs for women must be created to improve their access to the labour

market and to promote equality of opportunity and treatment, especially regarding wages,

working conditions, labour rights, family responsibilities and public childcare policy.

 

Jobs for Youth : Policies to support youth employment are needed to guarantee all rights for

young women and men, with particular attention to ILO Convention 138 on Minimum Working Age and 182 on the Worst Forms of Child Labour. These policies must achieve the eradication of rotating

minimum-wage jobs and precarious working conditions. New jobs should be created for young

workers instead of youth displacing adult workers who also need employment. The new generation should be educated about their human, civil, social and labour rights. This will help them join the

working world and will guarantee them opportunities to gain social and professional skills and community participation.

 

Elimination of Child Labour : Government policies coordinated at the Inter-American level to eliminate

all forms of child exploitation must be implemented. This must be undertaken through an integrated

approach which guarantees boys and girls free public education from pre-school age while ensuring

employment for adults in the family.

 

Education and Professional Training : Governments must guarantee access to free, quality public

education and ensure continuation through graduation, so that citizens can fully exercise

their rights. Programs which provide general education, childcare from birth and

professional training must be broadened to integrate a gender perspective, and must

provide life-long support so workers can acquire the necessary skills to join and remain in the workforce.

 

3. Promoting and Fulfilling Social and Labour Rights

 

Formal Employment : There is an urgent need to substantially increase

the number of decent jobs. To that end, governments must enact an aggressive

enforcement policy to ensure compliance with and full respect for

national labour legislation as well as improvements in said laws.

 

Labour Inspectors : Governments must strengthen all

inspection and enforcement mechanisms so that employers comply

effectively with labour laws. In the short term, the Inter-American

system must require all member states to adopt the basic

conventions of the ILO and to monitor companies’ compliance.

 

Labour Tribunals : In many countries, labour courts are

slow to resolve disputes and thus violate the individual and collective

rights of working men and women. Labour tribunals become

politicized and often unfairly take the side of employers. The

governments of the Americas must ensure that the courts dealing

with labour disputes respect and apply the principle that justice

delayed is justice denied, and fulfill their obligation to defend the

rights of working men and women.

 

Universal Access and Pay-As- You-Go Social Safety Nets :

Providing social services is a critical responsibility of government because

social security is a human right. There is an extremely serious predicament in the

Americas because of the exclusion of tens of millions of workers from the health

and social security systems and related and growing financial

troubles those systems are experiencing. It is urgent to strengthen

these systems by restoring the principle of universal access to

benefits, especially for children and the elderly, by making progress

toward the indivisibility of services and by achieving sustainable

financing with social justice, while at the same time doing away with

approaches based on private profit.

 

Unionization and Collective Bargaining :

To achieve a real improvement in the living conditions of the working men

and women of the Americas, as well as a deepening of democracy, labour

rights must be promoted and mechanisms for collective bargaining

established at all levels. The organizations of working women and

men must be protagonists in the design and implementation of such

mechanisms.

 

Balancing Work and Family : The countries of the Americas must undertake a

serious effort to balance the needs of family and those of the workplace, so that work is

compatible with family life and caring for children, the sick, the disabled and the

elderly. To this end, governments and regional and sub-regional institutions

must actively pay attention to this issue in three principal areas:

 

a) Within companies, considering a reduced workweek without

loss of pay, so that the right of working men and women to

attend to their families’ needs becomes part of companies’

social responsibility.

 

b) Within society, strengthening public systems, accessible to all

men and women, which support caring for children, the sick,

the disabled and the elderly.

 

c) Within male-dominated cultures, bestowing social value on

reproductive work and distributing it equitably between men

and women.

 

Discrimination : To guarantee equality of opportunity and

treatment in the workplace, public anti-discrimination policies should

be promoted and strictly enforced by new tripartite sub-regional

boards, which should pay particular attention to discrimination by

gender, race, sexual orientation, national origin and culture. The

rights and labour of sex workers must be respected. Policies

regarding equality of opportunity and treatment must be coordinated,

must include affirmative action and should set indicators to allow for

periodic accounting of progress or lack thereof. The governments in

the Americas must take specific steps to protect and preserve

cultures and indigenous rights.

 

Workers’ Freedom of Movement : One of the principles of

the labour movement of the Americas is the eventual elimination of

restrictions that impede the free movement of persons. In the

Americas, tens of millions of working men and women and

their families are obliged to migrate, pushed out by poverty

and the enormous gulf between rich and poor. For this reason,

we consider it a primary obligation of government to

develop the necessary policies to guarantee our workers’

freedom not to emigrate. For those workers who have emigrated and their families,

no matter their migratory status, the authorities must recognize the floor of rights

guaranteed by the International Convention on the Protection of All

Rights of Migrant Workers and their Families, as well as ILO

Conventions 97 and 143 on Migrant Workers. Governments should

also acknowledge the principle that no one should be sent back to

where their rights have been violated. In addition, ways must be

found in the Americas to link pension systems so that the upheaval

caused by migration is not aggravated by the loss of benefits.

Similarly, a system for validating professional credentials and

degrees must be established so that human resources are not

under-utilized and workers’ professional and other skills obtained in

their countries of origin are respected. The governments of the

Americas must jointly undertake to eradicate abuses in the transfer

of remittances by migrant workers. Similarly, governments must

recognize the principle of non-refoulement contemplated in the

International Convention on the Protection of All the Rights of

Migrant Workers and their Families for the victims of terrorism,

smuggling and trafficking, sexual and labour exploitation, workplace

accidents and repression for union activity.

 

4. A Guarantee That No One Will Be Excluded

There are enormous challenges to overcome in the Americas if

we are to adopt a new approach to economic, social and labour

policy. The social security system must be reformed, given that

it was designed to address only those with formal employment

and thus excludes the majority of the population. It is

practically impossible to imagine a sustainable system of social

security without improving employment levels and increasing

formal employment and family incomes. But it would also be

ethically unsustainable and politically dangerous to democracy

to await job creation via economic recovery before putting new

social policies into effect. As long as the economy is not

generating enough formal jobs, governments must guarantee

social benefits to all working women and men, whether they are

formally or informally employed or unemployed.

To fight poverty effectively, universal access to social services

must be coordinated with job-creation, labour and income

policies, so as not to split society into those who have jobs and

those who receive assistance.

 

5. Making Labour’s Platform for the Americas a Reality

To make Labour’s Platform for the Americas a reality, year by year,

regional and sub-regional follow-up mechanisms will be established,

based on social dialogue and the active participation of civil society.

These mechanisms must be based on short, medium and long-term

goals for government policy, placing full employment and decent jobs

at the heart of the hemisphere’s sustainable development.

To help achieve this objective, the following regional and sub-regional

indicators with national specifications designed from a gender

perspective should be agreed on:

 

Inequality

Poverty

Unemployment

Informal Employment

Gender Equality

Child Labour

Gender Development Index (UNDP)

 

Each year, forums created to monitor follow-up on Labour’s Platform

for the Americas should meet and report back to our peoples and

nations on the status of efforts to achieve these proposed goals and

on the measures necessary to implement them.

 

(1 ) An International Labour Organization’s (ILO) definition:

“Decent work means productive work in which rights are protected, which generates

an adequate income, with adequate social protection. It also means sufficient work,

in the sense that all should have full access to income-earning opportunities. It

marks the high road to economic and social development, a road in which

employment, income and social protection can be achieved without compromising

workers’ rights and social standards.”Source: “Report of the Director-General: Decent Work”, International Labour Office,Geneva, June 1999. www.ilo.org/public/english/standards/relm/ilc/ilc87/rep-i.htm

 

(2 ) The Inter-American system refers to all of the intergovernmental institutions in the hemisphere {Organization of American States (OAS), the Labour Ministers’ Conference (IACML), the Inter-American Human Rights Court and Commission, etc.}

 

(3 ) Proposed by the Government of Venezuela, the Social Charter of the Americas consists of 129 articles that address social and human rights related to health, work, education, basic rights, cultural identity, environmental protection and indigenous peoples. It was submitted for debate to the OAS in August, 2005

 

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