Donaldson Tan / Head, TOC International / London
London – The world is standing on its toes as world leaders congregate in London for the G20 Summit. As many as 35,000 disgruntled people turned up all over London to make their voices heard. Their slogans read “Decent jobs and public services for all”, “End poverty and inequality”, and “Green the Economy”. Despite well-meaning intentions, the protesters were met with police resistance. One protester even questioned the policemen, “Your pay-rise was withheld from you because your Government used your money to bail out Northern Rock. Why are you on their side?”
Protesters taking action
Glen Tarman, Chair of the Put People First’s Co-ordination Team, announced a new alliance has emerged from more than 150 organisations drawn from a huge range of development, union, faith and environmental groups. “All have been united by the clear message that the G20 leaders … cannot go back to business as usual. They must take action for jobs, to stop climate chaos and to fight poverty and inequality throughout the world,” he said.
Yesterday, the G20 Meltdown protestors emerged from four London Underground stations (Moorgate, Liverpool Street, Cannon Street, London Bridge) and converged at the Bank of England. Clashes between the police and the protesters intensified in the afternoon amidst police provocation. The police continued to detain protesters around the Bank of England until late evening although many protesters had already sounded out their intention to disperse peacefully.
Later today, the Stop the War Coalition will be protesting at the official venue of the G20 London Summit in conjunction with the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and the British Muslim Initiative. “This meeting will be a vital opportunity for the most powerful countries in the world to break from the policies of war and neo-liberalism that have caused such devastation around the world during the Bush years,” said Chris Nineham, founder of the Stop the War Coalition.
Alternative Policy Proposals
Complacent policymakers often discount protesters by saying although protesters complain about existing policies, they do not make alternative recommendations. Such fallacy should never be propagated at all. The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) and the Trade Union Advisory Committee (TUAC) at the OECD have already listed a range of policy instruments and actions in the Global Unions G20 London Declaration. “If the G20 governments in London are only able to agree on half-measures, they will have failed to meet their responsibilities. As the world’s largest economies, they have the responsibility and the possibility to replace the failed neo-liberalism of the past with a whole new direction for globalisation,” said ITUC General Secretary Guy Ryder.
The five-point union plan, which includes detailed policy proposals, sets out the actions needed to tackle the crisis and build a fairer and more sustainable world economy for the future. It calls for:
· Co-ordinated international recovery and sustainable growth plan to create jobs and ensure public investment;
· Nationalisation of insolvent banks and new financial regulations;
· Combat the risk of wage deflation and reverse decades of increasing inequality;
· far-reaching action on climate change;
· New international legal framework to regulate the global economy along with reform of the global financial and economic institutions (IMF, World Bank, OECD, WTO, ILO)
Key sticking points in the negotiations between governments, notably on the need and scope for further stimulus packages, remain to be resolved and the suggestion of a further G20 Summit later this year is likely to feature prominently. “For the first time, global leaders are looking for agreed solutions to a deep global crisis. The governments here have the power to put the world economy back on track, and we urge them to agree on far-reaching measures for recovery and reform," said Ryder. "Ensuring jobs and avoiding the emerging risk of generalised wage deflation must be at the top of the list. We also believe that this G20 must lay the framework for new global governance with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) taking centre stage alongside reformed and accountable international financial and trade institutions."
And: G20 draft communique.
BBC's report on the protests: