The financial crisis in the Nordic countries

As nearly the rest of the world, the Nordic countries were also hit by the financial crisis, and in some cases it was not only a financial crisis, it was also a dramatic fall in the value of real estate, which caused an even deeper recession. Worst hit of course was Iceland, where the entire financial sector collapsed. Also Denmark, Sweden and Finland were affected, but not as severe as Iceland. But the country, where the recession has taken on the mildest form is Norway, even though the turnover in the Norwegian Construction Industry decreased by 10,2% from 2008 to 2009.

The segment, which is worst hit in the Construction Industry, is the building of new houses. We had overinvested in real estate, and when the crisis hit, nobody wanted to invest in new houses, office buildings and so on.

One of the major obstacles in the Nordic countries is that the governments are running larger and larger budget deficits; therefore it is difficult to ask the governments for new investments. Only Norway has a strong economy, and to a lesser extent Sweden.

Governments cut spending, and even though not all the cuts are directed towards the Construction Industry, the shear fact that governments are cutting spending during a recession period hit at the construction industry. Many countries are locked in to a situation where they do not have any money to spend, but by cutting public spending they are deepening the crisis. This means in effect that governments make the recession period even worse and even longer than could have been.

A way out for the Nordic and other countries

As a feasible way out of the recession for the Construction Industry, the trade unions in the Nordic countries have proposed various initiatives.

In Sweden the so-called “ROT-avdrag” was introduced. It is a tax deduction scheme for renovating private houses. There was no deduction or subsidy to tenants. The ROT tax deduction scheme has created activity and created many new jobs. It has also had the effect that a huge part of the black economy, undeclared labour etc. has been revealed, because you can only get the ROT tax deduction, if you present a bill from a company paying the VAT.
On a much smaller scale the Danish Government introduced a state subsidy for renovating houses for a short period of time. It did not really create that many new jobs, because a lot of people waited, until the scheme was introduced, and many people could forward their decisions about renovating their houses while the scheme lasted. All in all the effect was very limited.

Proposals from BAT in Denmark to increase the activity in the building sector

Proposals aimed at the public sector

Proposal 1

BAT suggests that target figures are collected systematically and are calculated for the physical condition and the need of maintenance for public buildings and public facilities with special focus on energy renovation. Hereafter a politic is formulated and implemented in order to catch up on the constant lagging behind of maintenance.

Proposal 2

In connection to all new municipal and regional investments, a fixed percentage is set aside for the ongoing maintenance (as known from the contributions paid into the maintenance account in tenanted buildings).

Proposals from BAT in Denmark to increase the activity in the building sector

Proposals aimed at the public sector

Proposal 1

BAT suggests that target figures are collected systematically and are calculated for the physical condition and the need of maintenance for public buildings and public facilities with special focus on energy renovation. Hereafter a politic is formulated and implemented in order to catch up on the constant lagging behind of maintenance.

Proposal 2

In connection to all new municipal and regional investments, a fixed percentage is set aside for the ongoing maintenance (as known from the contributions paid into the maintenance account in tenanted buildings).

Proposal 3

Move forward public investments in buildings and construction projects such as schools, day care centers, sewers, roads etc. focusing on work intensive projects.

Proposal 4

All public buildings must be energy renovated by the end of 2018. The costs are partly covered by savings in energy consumption. Means from a coming Oil Fund might be used for this purpose.

Proposal 5

All 98 municipalities must be climate municipalities. The Government must create the possibilities for this. ESCO is a way to finance it.

Proposal 6

It shall not be possible for wealthy pensioners to postpone payment of property tax. There must be a lower limit in order to avoid that the proposal affects the lower classes.

Proposals aimed at the private sector

Proposal 7

Generally, there is a need of promoting energy renovation in the private housing stock. Particularly in houses built before 1978 the potential is big.

Proposal 8

Each house owner, company or housing association can get free counselling from an energy consultant, who will go through the residence and come up with some ideas for energy saving investments together with an economic survey for the investments and the possibilities for subventions and loans. In this way the individual’s possibilities are clarified.

Proposals for financing

Proposal 1

The current freezed situation with tax stop together with the current mortgage rules are a huge limitation for the activities in the municipalities, and therefore the municipalities must be given access to loans. It is common sense to let future users/taxpayers contribute through their tax instead of amortizing the whole amount, when the facility is built.

The solution requires that the Service Framework Agreement (Servicerammeaftalen) with the Government is adjusted in correspondence with the interest charge and that the municipalities are given the right to tax their citizens equal to the interest charge.

Proposal 2

The municipalities ought to give greater priority to the focus on PPP (Public-Private Partnership), which is a method for the handling of public building and construction projects that demands long term investments and have a potential for innovative solutions. PPP is beneficial both to the municipality and to the PPP-company as the risk is shared, and the payment is closely linked to what the municipality gets.  In return the PPP-company is given a task, which runs for up till 30 years making it possible to think in an overall economic way regarding planning, construction and operation.

Proposal 3

To encourage energy renovation the owners have to be offered attractive loan possibilities, subvention and deduction arrangements.

Borrowing options

It must be possible to mortgage one’s home with a loan from the building society over 80%, if energy renovation is verified. Such loans can advantageously be obtained by a state guarantee, as this will decrease the interest of the loan. The loans are only granted to work for which VAT has been paid.

These investments will to a great extend repay themselves by saved expenses for electricity and heating.  In continuation hereof one can imagine the possibility to pay off a loan by energy saving initiatives with an amount equal to the actual saving, one obtains. In this way the period of repayment becomes directly proportional with the energy saving.


The state ought to expand the existing renovation pool to a multi-annual pool, focusing only on energy efficiency improvement and energy renovation.


It must be possible to be granted a deduction in taxes for energy improvements.

Proposal 4

All houses and buildings are divided into 5 CO2 classes. The CO2 class determines the property tax. The higher the CO2 emission is from the house, the higher is the property tax you have to pay. This kind of system is already known for refrigerators and cars, where the tax or surplus tax is energy depending. For those, who wish to reduce a high CO2-emission, subvention and attractive loans should be given.

Proposal 5

Increase “Landsbyggefonden’s” yearly subvention frame in order to support documented energy renovations i Council Houseing. The current frame of 3 bn. DKR has been disposed of within the current Housing Settlement expiring in 2012. Therefore, the frame has to be increased.

Landsbyggefonden is able to borrow just as cheap as the state. Therefore, the ESCO-projects are not that interesting for the Council Housing sector. They can, if they are allowed, obtain a cheaper financing themselves!

Renovation of e.g. building envelope, water and heating installations, insulation, roof etc. is energy cost saving and is already being done to a great extent. However, there is a big lagging behind within the public sector and a wish for implementing more renovation projects, which have to wait, as the frame is exhausted.

It is important to emphasize that the precondition for implementing energy saving precautions both within the public new construction area as regarding renovation should be that it is financially profitable for each individual tenant and for the Council Housing company. That means, that an investment for e.g. isolating windows should be financed by the saved energy consumption and maybe combined with lesser maintenance.

Proposal 6

Put a stop to the pensioners’ postponement of property tax, perhaps graduated according to the fortune/income of the pensioners. In this way the weakest pensioners living in their own houses continue to have the possibility of a postponement of the property tax.

From the Nordic countries we think that the trick to regenerate the Construction Industry is to find capital or funding, which is not coming from governments, because most governments not only in the northern part of Europe but also in the rest of the EU perform these large and sometimes even astronomical budget deficits.

We need to get the real estate market going. We need to get cheap loans and mortgages in real estate. We need political instruments for people to discover the advantage of energy renovating their houses, office buildings etc.. To achieve this we may need that governments are to be found at the forefront of economic changes by making programs for energy renovation of their own building stock as it has partly happened in France, Germany and Holland. Such schemes have not been developed in the Nordic countries yet.

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Fighting Back against Growing Inequalities in the World Economy

We launched this Financial Crisis Blog in September. Over the past few months, several trade unionists from different continents have week after week succeeded each other in describing their “best practices” in the struggle against the crisis in their own countries, as well as in reporting on their activities at world level, such as in the offensive for a financial transactions tax. The response has been very positive, which demonstrates the value of promoting such exchanges. What general lessons can be drawn, also in the light of the results of the Seoul G20 summit?

It is clear that at the level of the world economy, we are confronted by blatant inequalities between continents; within continents, between countries; and within each country. Those inequalities have increased still further as a result of the global financial crisis, and in many countries they have become a source of explosive tensions, especially as the costs of the damage caused by the financial crisis are being very unfairly distributed. As regards tensions at the international level, it will be recalled that at the Pittsburgh (September 2009) and Toronto (June 2010) G20 summits, the dispute between the United States and the European Union was about crisis exit strategies: further stimulus measures or austerity programmes – that was the alternative. Finally, it was the right-wing countries and forces advocating austerity that prevailed; at the risk, of course, of deflation and soaring unemployment. At the Seoul G20 summit (November 2010), the dispute shifted to monetary and exchange rate policies, with the United States and China in the crosshairs. In Seoul, the trend to discard stimulus plans in favour of austerity programmes and radical deficit and debt reductions was unfortunately confirmed, without participants finding, in return, common solutions on monetary, exchange rate or fiscal policies (the NO to the taxation of financial transactions persists!). The picture is all the more bleak as our building and wood industries are, by their very nature, disproportionately hit by financial and economic fluctuations and by those earlier-mentioned inequalities, as shown, for example, by the real estate crisis in the United States and Spain or the financial crisis in Greece, Ireland and Romania.

In these circumstances, a radical change of economic and social policy is urgently needed, especially for our industries. As Global Unions and ITUC are continuing to demand, it is necessary to:

- retain employment-led stimulus measures, with the priority being for jobs,

- place quality jobs and social protection at the heart of a strong, sustainable and balanced growth strategy,

-accelerate financial and fiscal reforms, with the adoption of a financial transactions tax.

BWI, with all its affiliates, must commit itself to the fight for these priorities, anchoring them in our industries. Initiatives such as, in Europe, the “Platform of Action for a Social and Green Europe”, in Asia (Hong Kong), “Green Projects with More Jobs”, and other social and green recovery plans in Latin America and Africa show the way forward. In so acting, we must also intensify our efforts to fight precarious jobs, opposition to workers’ rights and attacks on collective bargaining systems, as well as the wage dumping practices (a source of xenophobia and racism) that are their corollary. Now more than ever, that requires strengthening our unions and their mobilising capacity!

Submitted by Vasco Pedrina, BWI Vice President

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Lutter contre les inégalités croissantes dans l’économie mondiale

Nous avons lancé ce blog « Réponses à la crise » en septembre. Au cours de ces derniers mois, plusieurs syndicalistes de différents continents  se sont succédé semaine après semaine pour relater de leurs « bonnes pratiques » dans la lutte contre la crise dans leur propre pays, mais aussi pour faire part de leurs activités au niveau global, telles que l’offensive en faveur d’une taxe sur les transactions financières. L’écho a été fort positif, ce qui prouve l’intérêt de promouvoir de tels échanges. Qu’est-ce qu’on peut en tirer comme leçons, également au vu des résultats du G20 de Seoul ?

Il est clair qu’au niveau de l’économie mondiale, nous sommes confrontés avec des inégalités criantes entre continents, au sein des continentes entre pays et au sein même de chaque pays. Celles-ci ont encore crû suite à la crise financière mondiale et dans bien des pays elles sont devenues source de tensions explosives, d’autant plus que la charge des dégâts de cette crise est en train d’être répartie très injustement. Pour ce qui est des tensions au niveau global, il y a lieu de rappeler qu’aux G20 de Pittsbourgh (9.2009) et Toronto (6.2010), le conflit entre les Etats-Unis et l’Union Européenne portait  sur les stratégies de « sortie de crise » : poursuite des plans de relance ou bien programmes d’austérité, telle était l’alternative ? Finalement ce sont les pays et les forces de droite  prônant l’austérité qui ont pris le dessus ; au risque bien sûr de la déflation et d’une explosion du chômage. Au G20 de Seoul (11.2010), le conflit s’est déplacé sur les politiques relatives à la monnaie et aux cours de change, avec dans le collimateur les Etats-Unis et la Chine. A Seoul, le trend visant à laisser les plans de relance en faveur de la priorité donnée aux programmes d’austérité et de réduction radicale des déficits et de la dette  s’est malheureusement confirmé ; sans qu’en échange au moins on trouve des solutions communes sur le plan monétaire, des cours de change ou de la politique fiscale (le NON à la taxation des transactions financières persiste !). Le tableau est d’autant plus désolant que nos secteurs du bâtiment et du bois, de par leurs caractéristiques, sont encore plus frappés par les fluctuations financières et économiques et par les inégalités précitées, comme l’ont montré par ex. la crise immobilière aux Etats-Unis et en Espagne ou la crise financière en Grèce, Irlande ou Roumanie.

Un changement radical de politique économique et sociale reste dans ce contexte une nécessité urgente, surtout pour nos secteurs. Comme continuent de le revendiquer les Global Unions et la CSI, il faut

-        conserver les mesures de relance par l’emploi et lui donner la priorité

-        placer l’emploi de qualité et la protection sociale au cœur d’une politique de croissance forte, durable et équilibrée

-        accélérer les réformes financières et fiscales, en adoptant une taxation des transactions financières.

L’IBB, avec tous ses affiliés, doit faire sienne la lutte pour ces priorités, afin de les ancrer dans nos secteurs. Des initiatives telles que la « Plateforme d’action pour une Europe sociale et verte » en Europe, le programme « Projets verts pour plus de jobs » en Asie (Hongkong) et d’autres plans de relance sociaux et verts en Amérique Latine et en Afrique indiquent la voie à suivre sur ce chemin. Ce faisant, il s’agira de redoubler d’efforts pour lutter contre les emplois précaires, la remise en cause des droits travailleurs, les attaques aux systèmes de conventions collectives de travail et les pratiques de dumping salarial (source de xénophobie et racisme) qui en sont le corollaire. Plus que jamais il faut pour cela renforcer nos syndicats et leur capacité de mobilisation !

Soumis par Vasco Pedrina, Vice-Président de l’IBB

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America Can Help Rebuild the World Economy – By Rebuilding Itself

As the United States looks to find its way to a strong economic recovery, it needs to be mindful of the impact any move could have on the global economy. Monetary policies that flood overseas markets with weakening dollars, aggravate trading partners and put the country further in debt to other nations aren’t a long-term solution – in fact, they risk placing America on even shakier financial footing.

The U.S. government needs to see that American dollars stay in the country and are put to use investing in the roads, bridges, dams, water pipes, energy systems and school facilities that are essential to the country’s ability to be globally competitive in the 21st century. These investments would not only address the crisis facing the country’s basic needs, but also create millions of jobs and put investment on par with the massive work being done in countries like China and India.

The Laborers’ International Union of North America is leading the fight to make these critical investments. Through its Build America 2010 campaign, LIUNA – the largest, most aggressive and progressive union of construction workers in the United States – is tapping into the energy of its members to make the public and politicians aware of the need for federal investment.

Launched in spring 2010, the Build America effort has focused on making Americans aware of the $2.2 trillion crisis facing the country’s basic needs – a crisis that becomes $150 billion more expensive with each passing year.

In particular, Build America has focused on the country’s bridges, one-fourth of which are in need of repair. In six states, LIUNA has posted billboards warning motorists of deficient bridges and urging them to contact elected officials.

One of the campaign’s chief goals is to win passage in Congress of a fully funded, six-year surface transportation bill that would address the many needs confronting America’s highways and bridges. While this legislation could create 8 million jobs in 4 years, failing to do so would actually result in the loss of 2 million jobs – that’s a swing of 10 million. At a time when unemployment in the construction industry remains above 17 percent, America can’t afford to delay much longer.

At home, making these investments would create jobs that couldn’t be outsourced while leaving behind real assets for taxpayers and future generations. Globally, the result would be a stronger America and a more stable international economy. By putting America’s money to work within its own borders, it can build its buying power instead of its borrowing power – a development the rest of the world would welcome.

Submitted by Terry O’Sullivan, general president, LIUNA, USA.

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The Swedish government’s “wait and see” approach does not help

Sweden, as well as many other countries, has felt the impact of the financial crisis and the recession that followed. Construction output fell substantially and in 2009, the sub-sector new residential housing fell by 42 %. At that time, many feared that the Swedish construction sector would experience a similar downturn as in the nineties, when tens of thousands of our members were unemployed for a very long time.

Byggnads proposed early a number of initiatives to mitigate the effects of the downturn:

  • Stimulating new residential housing – especially flats for rent. In relation to its population, the level of newly produced residential houses is not enough and has basically been to low for 20 years.. There is particularly a lack of flats for rent.
  • 1 million flats and privately owned houses were built in the sixties and seventies. A large proportion of those are in desperate need for renovation and improvement, particularly in terms of energy efficiency. Property-owners have often not the financial capacity to pay for the full renovation and part-subsidizing these renovation projects could have a huge impact on employment in the sector as these works are labour intensive. During a recession is the right time to stimulate.
  • Young apprentices, the next generation of building workers, experience great difficulties to get the necessary practice to finish their vocational training. Without that, they will never be fully qualified. Actions to ensure that they have a future in the sector is vital.

The liberal/conservative government took a “wait and see” approach. Except from some increased spending in infrastructure projects and a tax credit for individual homeowners, they did not want to stimulate the residential market despite the relative good shape of public Swedish finances. The government has still not taken any initiatives to address the fact that Sweden in the last 10 years has built less houses and flats per 100,000 people than any other EU country.

Fortunately, but without support from government, the situation in the construction sector has improved. With a consistent demand for residential houses, low interest rates and an improved lending climate, we now see clear signs of increased construction output and employment. However, Sweden never experienced a “property bubble” where houses were built on speculation.

However, there is still a need for action to stimulate the residential market and it’s obvious that the government’s “wait and see” approach does not help. Without the general improvement in the economy, it could actually have been much worse.

Submitted by Hans Tilly, President of Byggnads – Swedish Building Workers Union

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G-20: Take Action on Financial Transaction Taxes

International Civil Society Statement to the G-20 Leaders Summit in Seoul

We, the undersigned civil society organizations from 32 countries, urge G-20 leaders to make concrete progress towards the introduction of an internationally coordinated financial transactions tax (FTT) at the upcoming summit in Seoul.

Our organizations have long advocated that such taxes are a practical way to generate revenues needed to fill domestic and international financing gaps, discourage the type of short-term financial speculation that has little social value but poses high risks to the economy and serve as a desperately-needed and sustainable source of financing for health and development.  In recent months, the case for an FTT has been strengthened with new inputs from sometimes unexpected sources. Several developments have contributed to building a solid foundation for going beyond discussion of options to implementation:

IMF research commissioned by the G-20 recognizes technical feasibility of FTTs

At the 2009 Summit in Pittsburgh, the G-20 charged the International Monetary Fund (IMF) with preparing a report on various financial sector taxation options.  While the IMF report delivered in June 2010 favored an alternative approach (devoting only 3 of its 74 pages to FTTs), it did confirm the administrative feasibility of this option.  A follow-up IMF technical paper has pointed out that most G20 countries have already implemented some form of transaction tax, and offered useful information on how to design the taxes to make them most effective.  The paper also confirmed that such taxes can generate substantial revenues.

A report by the ‘Leading Group on Innovative Financing’ endorses one form of FTT

In July 2010, a group of international finance experts confirmed the feasibility of taxing financial transactions, with a view to financing international commitments for health and development made to developing countries. The experts had been commissioned to produce a feasibility study for a group of 12 governments — Germany, UK, Japan, France, Belgium, Korea, Norway, Senegal, Brazil, Spain, Austria and Chile.  These countries are part of the Leading Group on Innovative Financing for Development, comprised of 60 nations (including 75% of G20 member states).  In their report, the experts point to foreign exchange transactions between banks as the easiest option for collecting a solidarity tax. They calculated that an extremely small tax of only 0.005% on such transactions would generate 33 billion USD per year.

European Union and UN High-level Advisory Group on Climate Change Financing consider FTT

Meanwhile, the European Commission is considering the possibility of introducing an FTT at European level, following the support shown by the European Parliament earlier this year. A European Commission report notes that, depending on the rate and coverage, an FTT could potentially generate more than $1 trillion per year. The FTT is also being addressed by a workstream of the High Level Advisory Group of the UN Secretary General on Climate Change Financing (AGF).  The Group, made up of heads of state, high-level officials from ministries and central banks, and other finance experts, is expected to release a report on climate finance options in late October 2010.

The need for FTTs has grown more urgent

FTTs are one of the few available options that could generate the enormous financial resources required to pay for the continuing costs of the global financial and economic crisis, including reducing the unacceptably high rate of job loss, and to achieve key development, health, education and climate change objectives in developing countries.  Several hundred billion dollars worth of untapped revenue could potentially be harnessed. This new financing is required in addition to official development assistance in order to meet the Millennium Development Goals. Alternative financial sector taxes as proposed by the IMF would fall far short of the volume required. At the same time, the potential benefit of FTTs to enhance market stability is of equal interest as the world has become more aware of the dangers posed by automated high-frequency trading that increasingly predominates in financial markets.  Even extremely low transactions tax rates would reduce the incentive for such speculative activities.

At the recent UN Summit on Millennium Development Goals, French President Nicolas Sarkozy made a very welcome vow to press for an international agreement on FTTs during his term as G-20 chair in 2011.  There is, however, no reason to delay. We call for G-20 action on this critical issue to begin in Seoul.

The BWI, other Global Union Federations, the ITUC, ETUC and many national trade union organizations are endorsing the International Civil Society Statement

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Appel au G-20: pour des mesures concernant une taxe sur les transactions financières

Déclaration de la société civile internationale pour le Sommet des dirigeants du G20 à Séoul

Nous soussignées, organisations de la société civile des pays 23, exhortons les dirigeants du G20 à accomplir des progrès concrets en vue de l’introduction d’une taxe sur les transactions financières (TTF) coordonnée à l’échelle mondiale lors du prochain sommet à Séoul.

Nos organisations soutiennent depuis longtemps que de telles taxes constituent un instrument pratique pour générer les revenus nécessaires pour combler les écarts de financement à l’échelle nationale et internationale, pour décourager le type de spéculation financière à court terme qui a peu de valeur sociale et qui présente de grands risques pour l’économie et pour servir de source de financement durable, indispensable en matière de santé et de développement. Au cours des derniers mois, les arguments en faveur d’une TTF ont été renforcés par de nouveaux apports provenant de sources, dans certains cas, inattendues. Plusieurs développements ont contribué à créer une base solide permettant d’aller au-delà d’une discussion des options en vue de sa mise en œuvre:

L’étude confiée au FMI par le G20 reconnaît la faisabilité technique des TTF

Lors du Sommet à Pittsburgh en 2009, le G20 a chargé le Fonds monétaire international (FMI) de préparer un rapport sur différentes options de taxation du secteur financier. Bien que le rapport du FMI publié en juin 2010 privilégie une approche alternative (ne consacrant que 3 pages sur 74 à une TTF), il confirme la faisabilité administrative de cette option. Un document technique de suivi du FMI souligne que la plupart des pays du G20 ont déjà mis en œuvre une certaine forme de taxe sur les transactions et fournit des informations utiles sur la manière d’élaborer des taxes afin de les rendre plus efficaces. Ce document confirme, en outre, que de telles taxes peuvent générer des revenus considérables.

Le rapport du “Groupe pilote sur les financements innovants pour le développement” approuve une forme de TTF

En juillet 2010, un groupe d’experts financiers international a confirmé la faisabilité d’une taxe sur les transactions financières en vue de financer les engagements internationaux pris en faveur des pays en développement en matière de santé et de développement. Les experts avaient été chargés de réaliser une étude sur la faisabilité à l’intention d’un groupe de 12 gouvernements – à savoir l’Allemagne, le Royaume-Uni, le Japon, la France, la Belgique, la Corée, la Norvège, le Sénégal, le Brésil, l’Espagne, l’Autriche et le Chili. Ces pays font partie du Groupe pilote sur les financements innovants pour le développement, qui regroupe 60 pays (dont 75% d’États membres du G20). Dans leur rapport, les experts soulignent les transactions de change au niveau mondial entre les banques comme l’option la plus facile pour prélever une taxe de solidarité. Ils ont calculé qu’une taxe extrêmement basse de seulement 0,005% sur ces transactions permettrait de générer 33 milliards de dollars par an.

L’Union européenne et le Groupe consultatif de haut niveau des Nations unies sur le financement de la lutte contre le changement climatique envisagent une TTF

Dans le même temps, la Commission européenne envisage la possibilité d’introduire une TTF à l’échelle européenne, à la suite du soutien manifesté par le Parlement européen au début de cette année. Un rapport de la Commission européenne souligne qu’en fonction du taux et de la couverture, une TTF pourrait générer plus d’un billion de dollars par an. La TTF est également abordée par un groupe de travail du Groupe consultatif de haut niveau du secrétaire général des Nations unies sur le financement de la lutte contre le changement climatique. Il est prévu que ce Groupe, composé de chefs d’État, de responsables de haut niveau des ministères et des banques centrales et d’autres experts financiers, publie un rapport sur les options de financement de la lutte contre le changement climatique fin octobre 2010.

La nécessité d’une TTF est devenue plus urgente

Les TTF constituent l’une des seules options envisageables pouvant générer les énormes ressources financières nécessaires pour financer les coûts permanents de la crise économique et financière mondiale, notamment la réduction du taux élevé et inacceptable de pertes d’emplois, et pour réaliser les objectifs fondamentaux en matière de développement, de santé, d’éducation et de changement climatique dans les pays en développement. Plusieurs centaines de milliards de dollars de revenus inexploités pourraient ainsi être dégagés. Ce financement supplémentaire est, en outre, nécessaire en matière d’aide publique au développement en vue de réaliser les Objectifs du millénaire pour le développement. Des taxes alternatives imposées au secteur financier, notamment celles proposées par le FMI, seraient loin d’atteindre le volume requis. En outre, la possibilité qu’offre une TTF d’améliorer la stabilité du marché présente tout autant d’intérêt dans la mesure où le monde a pris conscience dans une plus grande mesure des dangers que présente une spéculation automatique à haute vitesse qui prédomine de plus en plus sur les marchés financiers. Même des taux d’imposition extrêmement bas sur les transactions réduiraient l’incitation à de telles activités spéculatives.

Lors du récent Sommet des Nations unies sur les Objectifs du millénaire pour le développement, le président français Nicolas Sarkozy s’est engagé à faire pression pour obtenir un accord international sur les TTF durant sa présidence du G20 en 2011, engagement accueilli favorablement. Il n’y a toutefois aucune raison d’attendre. Nous lançons dès lors un appel pour que le G20 commence à adopter des mesures par rapport à cette question cruciale à Séoul.

L’IBB et les autres fédérations syndicales internationales, la CSI, l’ETUC, et autres organisations syndicales nationales approuvent la déclaration internationale de la société civile.

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G20: Acción respecto a la Tasa sobre las Transacciones Financieras

Declaración de la sociedad civil a la Cumbre de Líderes del G20 en Seúl

Las abajo firmantes, organizaciones de la sociedad civil provenientes de 23 países, instamos a los Líderes del G20 a que realicen progresos concretos con vistas a la introducción de una tasa sobre las transacciones financieras (TTF) coordinada internacionalmente durante la próxima cumbre en Seúl.

Nuestras organizaciones han venido defendiendo desde hace tiempo que este tipo de tasas representarían una forma práctica de generar los ingresos necesarios para subsanar los déficits financieros a escala nacional e internacional, prevenir el tipo de especulación financiera a corto plazo que aporta poco valor social pero plantea importantes retos a la economía y servir como la fuente sostenible que tan desesperadamente se necesita para financiar la sanidad y el desarrollo. En los últimos meses, los argumentos a favor de la TTF se han visto reforzados por nuevas aportaciones provenientes en ocasiones de donde menos se esperaba. Diversos acontecimientos han contribuido a crear unas bases sólidas para ir más lejos en lugar de limitarse a discutir sobre opciones para su implementación:

Estudio del FMI encomendado por el G20 reconoce la viabilidad técnica de la TTF

Durante la Cumbre de 2009 en Pittsburgh, el G20 encomendó al Fondo Monetario Internacional (FMI) la preparación de un informe sobre diversas opciones impositivas sobre el sector financiero. Aunque el informe del FMI hecho público en junio de 2010 se decanta por otra alternativa (dedicando apenas 3 de sus 74 páginas a una TTF), al menos confirmó la viabilidad administrativa de esta opción. A continuación, un documento técnico de seguimiento del FMI señalaba que la mayoría de los países del G20 habían ya adoptado alguna forma de impuesto sobre las transacciones, ofreciendo valiosa información sobre cómo diseñar los impuestos para que resulten más efectivas. El documento confirmaba asimismo que dichos impuestos pueden generar ingresos considerables.

Informe del ‘Grupo Piloto sobre Financiamiento Innovador’ aprueba una forma de TTF

En julio de 2010, un grupo de expertos financieros internacional confirmó la viabilidad de una tasa sobre las transacciones financieras, con vistas a financiar los compromisos internacionales contraídos respecto a los países en desarrollo en cuanto a sanidad y desarrollo. Se había encargado a los expertos que elaborasen un estudio de viabilidad para un grupo de 12 Gobiernos: Alemania, Reino Unido, Japón, Francia, Bélgica, Corea, Noruega, Senegal, Brasil, España, Austria y Chile. Estos países forman parte del Grupo Piloto sobre Financiamiento Innovador para el Desarrollo, integrado por 60 naciones (incluyendo un 75% de Estados miembros del G20). En su informe, los expertos apuntan a una tasa global sobre las transacciones en divisas entre bancos como la opción más apropiada para recaudar una “tasa de solidaridad”. Calcularon que aplicando una tasa extremadamente baja de apenas 0,005% sobre ese tipo de transacciones se generarían USD 33.000 millones al año.

La Unión Europea y el Grupo Consultivo de Alto Nivel de la ONU sobre la Financiación del Cambio Climático consideran la posibilidad de una TTF

Entre tanto, la Comisión Europea ha empezado a considerar la posibilidad de introducir una TTF a escala europea, luego del apoyo manifestado por el Parlamento Europeo a principios de este año. Un informe de la Comisión indica que, dependiendo de la tasa aplicada y la cobertura, una TTF podría llegar a generar más de USD 1 billón al año. La TTF ha sido también examinada por un grupo de trabajo en el Grupo Consultivo de Alto nivel sobre la Financiación del Cambio Climático, del Secretario General de la ONU. Está previsto que este Grupo, integrado por Jefes de Estado, altos representantes de ministerios y bancos centrales, y otros expertos financieros, publique un informe sobre opciones de financiación del cambio climático a finales de octubre de 2010.

La necesidad de una TTF se ha hecho más acuciante

Las TTF constituyen una de las únicas opciones disponibles susceptibles de generar los enormes recursos financieros necesarios para cubrir los continuos costos de la crisis financiera y económica mundial, incluyendo reducir el nivel inaceptablemente elevado de pérdidas de puestos de trabajo, y para alcanzar objetivos clave respecto a desarrollo, sanidad, educación y cambio climático en los países en desarrollo. Podría disponerse así de varios cientos de miles de millones de dólares de recursos aún sin explotar. Se requiere esta financiación adicional además de la asistencia oficial al desarrollo para poder alcanzar los Objetivos de Desarrollo del Milenio. Otros impuestos al sector financiero, como las propuestas por el FMI, quedarían muy por debajo del volumen requerido. Por otro lado, una TTF ofrece asimismo la posibilidad de mejorar la estabilidad de los mercados financieros, lo que resulta particularmente interesante ahora que el mundo se ha dado cuenta de los peligros que representa la negociación automatizada de alta frecuencia que predomina cada vez más en los mercados financieros. Incluso unos niveles impositivos extremadamente bajos a las transacciones reducirían el incentivo a realizar ese tipo de actividades especulativas.

Durante la reciente Cumbre de la ONU sobre los Objetivos de Desarrollo del Milenio, el Presidente francés Nicolas Sarkozy se comprometió a esforzarse por conseguir un acuerdo internacional sobre una TTF cuando asuma la Presidencia del G20 en 2011, lo que nos parece muy positivo, pero no hay por qué esperar. Pedimos por tanto que el G20 tome medidas respecto a esta cuestión crítica ya en Seúl.

La ICM, las federaciones sindicales internacionales, la CSI, ETUC y otras organizaciones sindicales nacionales respaldan la declaración internacional de la sociedad civil.

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A gland on South African Government crisis-response

The financial crisis a challenge for all countries, South Africa in the middle of hosting the World Cup 2010, was also affected by the economic down- fall, a brief look on how South Africa dealt with the after math?

A Framework for South Africa’s response was developed to tackle the financial crisis framework had strong principles that sought to protect the poor, the vulnerable, the unemployed and low-income workers, to strengthen capacity to grow decent work in the future, to maintain high levels of investment and to intervene in a timely, tailored and targeted manner. This was a bold stimulus package. The Government would spend R787 billion on improving public infrastructures such as housing construction, energy generation, hospitals and health clinics. Fiscal and monetary policy measures were to be used counter-cyclically, aggressively when required, and in a way that complemented trade and industrial policies.

With regard to potential unemployment measures in the private sector, employers had to avoid retrenchments of workers and explore alternatives. Unions and employers were to consider training layoffs as an alternative to retrenchment. In the public sector, Government could improve employment intake in key delivery areas. It could also use the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP). In terms of social measures, Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) benefits could be enhanced, the child grant was increased to age eighteen, and cooperatives were to be strengthened.

The full impact on South Africa was reflected in the economic data from May. Economic growth had slowed down dramatically and the manufacturing sector shrank by 20%. Job losses in one area affected other sectors and credit became more difficult to obtain. The construction sector lost 54000 jobs while the Manufacturing sector including cement have lost 74000 jobs in the second quarter of 2010.

The current account (Balance of Payments) deficit pressures still continued. There were 179 000 job losses in the first three months of the year. Another 267 000 jobs were lost in the second three months of the year and 302 000 additional people were discouraged work-seekers. There was a decline of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The biggest loss by far in GDP was in manufacturing and there were major contractions in other sectors such as mining.

The Independent Development Corporation of South Africa Ltd (IDC) made R6 billion over two years available to companies that had fallen into distress due to the recession. Since 1 April 2009, eleven financing applications totalling R743 million were approved. Packages were developed for automotives, clothing and textiles, as well as capital equipment, transport equipment and metals fabrication (CETEMF). Support for the auto industry was linked to conditionalities on jobs.

The Government aimed to reduce food price pressures on consumers by stepping up action against companies colluding or partaking in anti-competitive action. The government wanted to address the pressure on over-indebted consumers by providing rules, standards and processes to address debt restructuring.

There were tentative signs of recovery based on stimulus packages so it was uncertain whether the economy could sustain itself. Employment losses would lag economic recovery. This was not a short-term problem that would disappear in six months. Government would address both immediate and systemic issues. It would build partnerships to confront the challenge.

Submitted by Piet Matosa – President BWI Africa & Middle East Region

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The G20 must prioritise jobs

G20 leaders meeting in Pittsburgh in September 2009 committed to putting “quality employment at the heart of the recovery.” They have not lived up to this promise. It is of deep concern that employment does not figure on the initial G20 Summit agenda. The economic crisis that has wreaked havoc on the lives and livelihoods of working people is far from over. It is now a social crisis. There are currently more than 220 million unemployed in the world, the highest level ever recorded, and an increase of more than 31 million over 2007. An extra 100 million people – mainly in developing countries – have been pushed into extreme poverty. Not only is the global recovery fragile and uncertain, but the rise in unemployment is itself sapping confidence and undermining recovery.

Fear of the financial markets is pushing many G20 governments into retreating from expansionary policy in favour of austerity programmes, which if implemented will sharply increase the risks of our economies returning to recession, devastate public services, and reduce living standards. Governments should not accept the prospect of a decade of stagnant labour markets in industrialised countries, the entrenchment of poverty in developing countries and a lost generation of youth shut out from productive activity.

G20 leaders should, in the short term, give priority to reducing unemployment and, in the medium term, pursue a different model of growth and development

–       one that is balanced, sustainable, creates decent work and distributes income fairly. They must ensure that employment forms an integral part of the discussion under each agenda item at the Seoul Summit. To this end the Global Unions call on G20 governments to:

-        Retain recovery measures that focus on job creation, so as to reduce public deficits through sustained economic growth rather than spending cuts;

-        Prioritise employment, including creating a standing G20 Working Group on Employment with social partner participation; Put quality employment and social protection at the heart of the G20 Framework for Strong, Sustainable and Balanced Growth; and invest in people, through education and training;

-        Ensure that climate change policies encompass flanking policies on jobs to create green jobs, and ensure ‘Just Transition’;

-        Put “decent work” at the heart of the development agenda, meet aid commitments and support the Millennium Development Goals;

-        Accelerate financial reforms, deliver fair taxation and a financial transactions tax (FTT), curb financial speculation and clamp down on tax havens.

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