Canada urges developing countries to improve labour standards

G8 ministers, ILO also ask industry to embrace corporate social responsibility

Canada joined other countries in appealing to developing countries to improve social standards at the recent meeting of labour and employment ministers of the world’s riches countries in Dresden, Germany.

Years of effort have failed to produce any meaningful social protection in these countries, the Group of Eight ministers said in a statement at the end of a three-day conference.

"Strengthening and broadening of social protection (is) one of the most important tasks in the context of globalizations processes," the statement said, pointing out the value of such standards in combating poverty and promoting economic and social development.

German Labour Minister Franz Muentefering said the G8 as a group was unable to present concrete demands because setting minimum standards for social protection falls under the jurisdiction of individual states.

The ministers from Canada, Germany, the United States, Japan, France, Italy, Britain and Russia also focussed on strategies for more and better jobs, and corporate social responsibility.

To best adapt to the changes in the era of globalization, "it is crucial to enhance flexibility and adequate labour market security for individuals," the statement said. "Successful labour market policies should ensure that work pays and that benefit recipients have an opportunity and incentive to get a job and have a career prospect.”

Representatives from the EU Commission, the International Labour Organization (ILO), the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the World Bank also took part in the conference.

The conference said that industry could make a contribution to shaping the social dimension of the world economy by taking on a greater social responsibility.

"Companies should recognize their responsibility to their workers through the promotion of the rule of law, transparency, good governance, the ending of corruption and implementing sound industrial relations." the ministers said.

The ministers said they would pass on their recommendations for consideration at the G8 summit hosted by Germany next month in the Baltic Sea resort of Heiligendamm.

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