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G8 Labor Summit Discusses Global Welfare Pact


A three-day summit of the Group of Eight labor ministers and of six other major economies has opened in Rome on to discuss ways to strengthen welfare systems and help the rising number of jobless.

Attending the Rome meeting are labor ministers, union representatives and members of business groups and international organizations. Summit host Italian Labor Minister Maurizio Sacconi said he hopes agreement will be reached on a global welfare pact aimed at pursuing social stability alongside economic stability.

The three-day "Group of 14" meeting will bring together the G8 leading industrial powers with the emerging giants China, India and Brazil as well as Mexico, South Africa and Egypt at a time when worldwide job losses are sparking fears of social unrest.

Minister Sacconi said the objective is to rebuild confidence, starting above all from social protection, therefore starting from the people. He added the theme chosen for this summit is "People First, Tacking together the human dimension of the crisis".

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development Trade Union Advisory Committee General Secretary, John Evans, said this is a critical time and governments need to come out with strong measures.

"We are seeing something like a doubling of unemployment taking place at the moment, but there is virtually no increase in spending on active labor-market policies," said Evans. "We need at least a doubling of spending on active labor market policies to begin to deal with this crisis."

He added that at this moment there is a lot of anger over the loss of jobs, incomes, pensions and homes.

There were several protests in European capitals, including Rome, on Saturday before a much-anticipated summit of the Group of 20 developed and developing nations next Thursday in London to discuss the world financial crisis.

In the Italian capital, thousands of students and trade union members took to the streets.

This union representative said what is needed to overcome the current financial crisis is jobs for all, minimum salaries guaranteed to young people, decent pensions, social services and homes.

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