A three-day summit of the Group of Eight labor ministers plus six other major economies is underway in Rome to discuss ways to strengthen welfare systems and help the rising number of the jobless, reports say.

The Group of 14 meeting brings under one roof labor ministers, union representatives and members of business groups and international organizations from the G-8 leading industrial powers, plus emerging giants China, India and Brazil, besides Mexico, South Africa and Egypt at a time when world-wide job-losses are sparking fears of social unrest.

The meeting came after protests were staged Saturday in several European capitals ahead of the much-anticipated summit of the Group of 20 developed and developing nations Thursday in London on the financial crisis. It also came as a report of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) forecast rising unemployment in the 30-nation bloc to near double-digits in all member-states except Japan by the end of next year.

Summit host Italian Labor Minister Maurizio Sacconi said he hoped an agreement would be reached on a global welfare pact for ensuring social stability as also economic stability.

It is titled People First, Tacking together the human dimension of the crisis. He said the objective of the meet was to rebuild confidence, starting, above all, from social protection; therefore, starting from the people.

The Rome meeting aims to get a seat at the table at the G20 for labor concerns, said John Evans, the chief trades unions adviser to the OECD, adding that now, the discussion in the G20 was dominated by finance ministers, organizations like the Financial Stability Forum and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) where we don't have a voice.

The International Labor Organization (ILO) had said the global financial meltdown could claim up to 50 million jobs over 2008 and 2009, while the World Bank warned that the crisis could push 46 million back into poverty.

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