October 30, 2020
Dear friends and colleagues,
I would like to welcome the participants of the 9th BRICS Trade Union Forum. Over the years this forum has become a high-demand venue for communicating and exchanging experience between trade union representatives in the BRICS countries.
This forum is an important element in the BRICS system of economic and humanitarian ties. Much experience of cooperation has been gained since the first meeting in this format in December 2012. Common interests and aspirations of the trade unions have promoted the expansion of the forum’s agenda and made discussions more substantive. Productive and efficient joint work has made it possible to substantially broaden the forum’s ties with authoritative multilateral agencies. I am pleased to note that the mechanism for coordinating the positions of the five member states on key issues on the agenda of the International Trade Union Confederation has been established and continues growing stronger. Dialogue with the International Labour Organisation has acquired a regular character. Considering the contribution of the BRICS countries to the world economy (about a quarter of the global GDP) and the fact that over 40 percent of the world’s population live in our countries, the BRICS Trade Union Forum can and must make a substantial contribution to the agenda of the global trade union movement.
Historically, trade unions have played a leading role in consolidating international solidarity. Today this is more in demand than ever before. Against the backdrop of growing competition between countries, and the attempts by some groups of states to maintain their global domination to the detriment of genuine multilateral cooperation, the dialogue between people, public representatives and trade union associations is becoming particularly relevant. Its goal is to restore trust and find effective collective responses to the challenges facing the world, including socio-economic problems. There is simply no alternative to a multilateral approach.
During the Russian chairmanship, this forum is being held via videoconference for the first time due to coronavirus restrictions. The pandemic continues exerting serious impact on practically all areas of our lives, including the socio-economic development of our countries. This year, the five member countries have taken large and diversified measures to minimise the negative consequences of the coronavirus crisis. They have primarily been focused on efforts to maintain economic activity, preserve jobs and prevent a decline in the living standards of their citizens. These objectives are not easy and must be tackled in a package and in close cooperation between the state, businesses and employee representatives.
Trade union associations are capable of making their own contributions to implementing the Sustainable Development Goals, primarily by ensuring the right to a decent job, and promoting the rights of employees, including women, and their social protection. In this context, representatives of the BRICS trade union associations must display solidarity and consistency in working for this purpose.
The era of rapid ICT development and innovation production solutions is demanding more labour productivity and workforce quality. In this context, trade union associations are faced with the task of ensuring the comprehensive protection of the rights of working people and the opportunity to develop these rights, in cooperation with the state and corporate executives.
It is no less important to maintain employment in traditional occupations. It is necessary to ensure an opportunity for professional retraining and the timely vocational training of employees in the midst of technical progress and development of communication and means of production. The functions and experience of trade unions can be very helpful in this respect.
We welcome any further cooperation between the Trade Union Forum and the five-party mechanism for meetings among the BRICS labour ministers and the Business Council. I am confident that these contacts make it possible to consider the interests of the state, businesses and personnel in building a paradigm of cooperation for the future. They will also add substance to this cooperation.
President of Russia Vladimir Putin has clearly set the priorities for our chairmanship and entire five-party cooperation – to facilitate an increase in the living standards and quality of life of the BRICS nations. It is gratifying that the practical activities of your forum are aimed at fulfilling this task.
I am convinced that the participants in this forum will be able to create common approaches to resolving existing problems with due account for cultural, historical and economic traditions in an atmosphere of understanding and consideration for each other’s interests, which is typical for the BRICS countries.
I wish you success in this work, productive discussions, and of course, good health!