Peter Bakvis is the Washington DC officer of Global Unions. Here he reports on the IMF’s approach – in theory good, but in practice poor – to union rights and labour standards.
Last month the IMF posted a six-page “Factsheet: The IMF’s Advice on Labor Market Issues”, which tries to present a rationale for the Fund’s extensive involvement in labour market reforms in many countries. The factsheet explains that in response to the sharp rise in unemployment at the beginning of the 2008-2009 crisis, “the IMF supported policies to boost demand — and thus employment — through fiscal stimulus and easing of policy interest rates”.
However “in the longer run”, the Fund has decided it must take on “a broader set of policies and institutions [that] influences the functioning of labor markets…. Often, changes in these policies and institutions are needed to boost growth and job creation…. It may, for instance, be necessary to lower labor costs [so as] to restore competitiveness”.