Trade unions urged G20 leaders on Wednesday to respond decisively to the specter of 59 million job losses and slammed banks for awarding bonuses worth more than 20 percent of the taxpayer money spent bailing them out.
In a statement issued before a G20 summit in Pittsburgh next week, international umbrella bodies for labor unions said that world leaders needed to do more to stem the jobless surge and prevent economically devastating financial crises in future.
The seeds of another crisis are already being sown, and political leaders need to do much more than just condemn this kind of behavior, Guy Ryder, head of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), said in the statement.
The nine largest U.S. banks got a total of $175 billion in taxpayer bailouts and paid $32.6 billion in bonuses in 2008, mostly to top executives, said the statement.
This amount alone is equivalent of all the debt of the most heavily indebted countries and could have covered the gap in education provision in 68 of the world's poorest countries across a period of three years.
The union appeal coincided with the publication of a report highlighting that as many as 25 million people would lose their jobs in the 30 high-income countries of the OECD alone between end-2007 and an expected unemployment peak in 2010.
On top of an estimated 15 million jobs already lost in the richer countries, the OECD has warned that the worst is yet to come for labor markets in several countries, said John Evans of the Trade Union Advisory Committee, another body speaking for unions internationally.
The G20 must move on several fronts, quickly and with determination, said Evans in the statement, which urges the G20 leaders to endorse more forceful international efforts to help people find new and decent employment.
Jobs must be the first priority, but action on jobs will be undermined without reforms of the financial system, action for development in particular in the poorest countries, and concrete steps to create green jobs and ensure a just transition to a low-carbon future, he added.
The ITUC body says it speaks for 168 million workers in 155 countries and the Trade Union Advisory Committee speaks for many of same people within the OECD group, 30 countries that include all the big developed economies.
G20 leaders are due to meet in the U.S. city of Pittsburgh on September 24-25 for their third since the financial crisis that snowballed out of the United States in 2007 hit other sectors and triggered a global recession.
They need to show the world that they are prepared to govern in the interests of all, said Ryder.
The summit is due to deliberate among other things on calls from France, Germany and, of late, Britain, for curbs on bank bonuses and French President Nicolas Sarkozy's office said on Tuesday he and U.S. President Barack Obama had agreed by phone to join forces to advance financial reform.
The Financial Stability Board, an international body of bank supervisors and regulators mandated to come up with proposals on bank pay among other things, is due to present ideas to the G20 summit in Pittsburgh.
FSB chief Mario Draghi said after an FSB preparatory meeting in Paris on Tuesday that regulators were moving toward drawing a link between banks' overall performance and their total bonus pool, suggesting the thrust of FSB work for now is to restrain the total payouts a bank makes, but not individual ones.
We will have a link between total bonus pool and the firm's overall performance, Draghi said.
(Editing by Andy Bruce)