Global trade union leaders tell G20 to support waiver of WTO vaccine monopolies

October 28, 2021: Ahead of the G20 Leaders’ Summit this week in Rome, trade union leaders from G20 countries, representing millions of workers worldwide, have made a joint statement through the Labour 20 (L20) Summit calling on G20 governments to support the TRIPS waiver proposal.

The Labour 20 Statement to the G20 sets out policy recommendations for leaders to commit to a just recovery from the COVID pandemic. The statement prioritises a TRIPS waiver and ensuring “universal access and equitable distribution of vaccines treatments, and tests.”

The statement calls on G20 leaders to “immediately support the request for a TRIPS waiver to temporarily suspend intellectual property rights for Covid-19 vaccines, treatments, and tests, as proposed by India and South Africa at the WTO, so production can be ramped up and costs lowered.”

Sharan Burrow, International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) General Secretary, said:

"G20 governments must support a TRIPS waiver, ensure universal access and equitable distribution of vaccines, treatments, and tests through increased financial support for COVAX, and recognise SARS-CoV-2 as an occupational hazard and COVID-19 as an occupational disease.”

The L20 Summit also called leaders to take steps to reform multilateralism and international trade, including:

  • respect domestic policy space in trade and investment agreements and end provisions that limit the ability to pursue policies towards achieving full employment, a just transition to a net-zero economy, regulation of the digital economy, and the space to develop;
  • include clauses to effectively enforce ILO standards through bilateral and regional trade agreements;
  • end investor-state dispute tribunals that favour corporations over the public good, and establish a fair and transparent mechanism to handle such disputes;
  • establish a Committee on Labour as a formal space for social dialogue at the WTO and adopt an enforceable labour clause, based on the ILO fundamental rights, to set a floor on rights globally.

The full L20 Summit Statement to the G20 Leaders’ Summit can be read here.

The ITUC media release on the L20 Statement can be read here.