UN labour agency chief calls for new consensus to avert global recession

10 April 2008 – A new multilateral consensus on issues ranging from widening income gaps to climate change is needed to help head off a global economic slowdown and recession, the head of the United Nations International Labour Organization (ILO) has told the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

Speaking yesterday at the annual spring meetings of the two Washington-based institutions, ILO Director-General Juan Somavia also called for closer ties between his agency and the IMF and the World Bank.

He warned that recent IMF forecasts have projected that global growth could drop below the point that is equivalent to a global recession, causing further problems for labour markets around the world this year.

“Stability and progress in the world of work is threatened by instability and setbacks in the world of finance,” he said. “The scale of the financial restructuring now under way and the severity of the credit squeeze make the current financial crisis perhaps the most severe since 1945 and may result in markedly slower growth in the USA and other industrialized countries for as much as two to three years.”

Mr. Somavia said a multilateral consensus, bringing together countries rich and poor, and employers and employees, was needed on a wide range of issues.

“The ILO’s tried and tested mechanisms of social dialogue and tripartite discussions are particularly vital in building consensus around policies to avert a steep slowdown and move out of recession,” he said, referring to the agency’s practice of discussions involving governments, employers and workers.


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