on the outcome of the International Conference
"Economic Globalisation and Regional Integration:
Their Impact on Workers' Conditions in the CIS Countries"
An International Conference "Economic
Globalisation and Regional Integration: Their Impact on Workers' Conditions
in the CIS Countries" was held in Moscow's House of Trade Unions
from 7-8 February 2002.
The Conference was organised by the General Confederation
of Trade Unions (GCTU), the International Association of Academies of
Sciences of CIS Countries, and the national Academies of Sciences of
The Conference gathered representatives of the
legislative and executive bodies of CIS states, interstate integration agencies,
National Academies of Sciences, chief executive officers of major
corporations and enterprises, employers' and public organisations, prominent
sciences, and mass media workers. There were many trade unionists among
the participants, including leaders of the national trade union centres of CIS
countries, international and national industrial trade unions, regional and
workplace trade union organisations, including trade union committees of
several transnational corporations, and international guests. All in all, almost
a thousand people took part in the Conference, representing 18 countries and
four international trade union organisations.
The keynote speeches were presented by GCTU
President Vladimir P. Scherbakov and Vice-President of the Russian
Academy of Sciences Academician Alexander D. Nekipelov. At its plenary
sessions and six workshops, the Conference discussed topical issues relating
to CIS countries' entry into the globalising world. The broad discussion dwelt
on both the positive and the negative consequences of globalisation processes
for workers, and on whether the regional integration of the CIS countries
could help alleviate the adverse effects of globalisation.
Speakers pointed that globalisation, as an objective
factor of world development, opens new prospects for the world economy as
it stimulates contacts and links in the economy, trade, technologies, culture,
information and other spheres, and lifts restrictions impeding labour and
capital transfer across national boundaries. Simultaneously, globalisation
aggravates international competition, often puts its participants in unequal
conditions, and widens the gap not only between the rich and the poor
countries, but also between different sections of the population.
What can make this process manageable and oriented
towards the universal objectives of progress is the right choice of national
policies by CIS states, Conference participants stressed. The business
quarters, academic circles, and public organisations, including trade unions,
should be actively involved in the formulation and accomplishment of such
policies, side by side with state structures. This could ensure access to the
positive results of globalisation for the broadest possible sections of the
population, lessen the economic and social costs of the world community's
transition to a new quality, and help preserve the integrity of cultures and
While not denying that CIS countries may profit from
joining the WTO, participants voiced their concern with the low
competitiveness of many industries and enterprises, and with the lack of
resources needed for a quick introduction of the strict WTO standards.
Should their markets be opened, this may lead to sizeable cuts in jobs and
rises in unemployment. Given the situation, more balanced approaches must
be taken towards the problem of CIS countries' entry into the WTO, with due
consideration both for economic and social expediency. In this connection,
the necessity was stressed to build up competitive advantages and enhance
the role of state regulation.
Particularly heated were the debates about the changes
in the production pattern of the world economy where a symbiosis of
transnational corporations and small enterprises is playing a dominating role.
As they spoke of the growing influence of TNCs and finance-industrial
groups on the process of globalisation, Conference participants pointed to
their dual nature. On the one hand, they are the vehicles of technological
progress, while on the other, they try to take advantage of (and, to a certain
extent, conserve) the differences in the levels of labour remuneration and
workers' social protection. To achieve the aim, they bring their own social
ideology to the territories of other states.
There are numerous cases when transnational
enterprises breach national social and labour legislation, and block the
establishment and activity of trade union organisations or collective
bargaining, which calls for additional serious investigation into the role of
TNCs in the forming of new social and labour relations from the viewpoint of
their impact on the emerging global labour market, and on the structure of
trade unions and the forms and methods of their activity.
Many examples were cited to illustrate the negative
effect of globalisation on the social conditions and living standards of the
majority of the able-bodied population. Participants noted the effect of the
scientific and technological revolution, including the wide application of
information and communication technologies, on job reduction, increased
migration flows, the curtailment of social protection schemes, environment
degradation, and the growing inequality in the spheres of culture, health care
and education. In this situation, women are hardest hit. This gives rise to
widespread antiglobalist sentiments, and calls for a more active struggle for
decent conditions of work and life.
Speakers emphasised the need for developing a social
policy in the globalizing world, job creation, decent working conditions, and
better legal, economic and organisational conditions for labour migration.
Participants believed priority should be given to increasing real incomes of
citizens and, particularly, their wages, retaining the principle of social
solidarity in the process of reforming pension and social security schemes,
and ensuring better health care for all, general education and vocational
training oriented for market requirements, access to cultural achievements,
and equal treatment of men and women.
Participants believed that the process of CIS countries
joining the global world could be mitigated through their regional integration
that makes it possible for them to expand efficiently their common economic
space without relinquishing their national sovereignty. It would be necessary
to co-ordinate, within the CIS, the approaches towards the solution of
problems, take maximum advantage of the positive potential of globalisation,
and reduce its negative social implications. All public forces and state
authorities must jointly work towards the establishment of a common labour
market, and the development and realisation of programmes in the fields of
employment, stable economic growth and increased living standards of the
The Conference highlighted the role of trade unions as
organisations representing and defending workers' interests, and stressed the
need for their more vigorous struggle against the negative consequences of
globalisation, and for the observance of international labour standards,
including those set by UN and ILO documents. Solutions must be found to
the problems of securing the rights and freedoms of trade unions and bringing
their structure in keeping with the structure of the labour market. The need for
solidarity and trade union unity was also emphasised.
Conference spoke in favour of continued co-operation
in investigating and discussing these problems in order to promote the
development and implementation of a social model that would add a social
dimension and human character to globalisation in the interests of working