Labour-7 (L7) trade union leaders met with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Ministers Patricia Hajdu (Employment, Workforce Development and Labour), Maryam Monsef (Status of Women), François-Philippe Champagne (International Trade) and Chrystia Freeland (Foreign Affairs) in Ottawa on April 4th and 5th as part of the Canadian G7 Presidency this year. The L7 called upon the Canadian government to stand against the systematic reduction in scope and coverage of collective bargaining rights and to promote strengthened social dialogue and the extension of collective bargaining coverage and human rights as its key priorities in the run-up to the G7 Leaders’ Summit in Charlevoix on June 8th and 9th.
The L7 summit was hosted by the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC), in partnership with the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) and the Trade Union Advisory Committee to the OECD (TUAC).
In a context of rising inequalities and the shrinking of the middle class across OECD economies, strengthening of bargaining power of the working people should indeed be at the centre of Canadian G7 priorities on the Future of Work, Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment, Clean Energy and Climate Change and, more broadly, shaping inclusive growth models. The L7 urged the Canadian Presidency to put full-employment and quality jobs objectives back on the G7 agenda to address the crisis of job quality and underemployment and make growth more inclusive.
The L7 also welcomed the creation of a new G7 Employment Task Force – a key outcome of the G7 Employment Ministers meeting in Montréal from March 26th to 28th. For trade unions, the Task Force should aim for “Just Transition” principles that ensure that workers are not paying the cost of the adjustment to decarbonisation, digitalisation and the shifts in production and services technologies.
Trade union leaders further called for an ambitious set of G7 commitments for gender equality and women’s empowerment: an end to violence and harassment against women, closing the gender pay gap, increasing labour force participation and job security for women. The L7 encouraged the Canadian G7 Presidency to facilitate deeper international cooperation to address the regulatory gaps created by the disruptive business models of the digital economy, including action to prevent the spread of non-standard forms of work in the online platform economy and to recognize the importance of the care economy.
Finally, the L7 trade union leaders invited the Canadian government to promote a progressive trade and investment agenda at the G7 and beyond. This includes enforceable treaty clauses on ILO core labour rights, the right to regulate and the right to quality public services as well as the strengthening of past G7 agreements with respect to responsible business conduct and due diligence in global value chains.