11th TRADE GROUP
Point 11: Tourism
Trade union activity in the hotel, restaurant and tourist services fall under the general umbrella of tourism. The development and nature of employment in the sectors where IUF affiliates are active are directly dependent upon de policies applied by government and other parties involved in the development of tourism.
In tourism as in other sectors of the economy, there are various policies that can be broadly described as those, grouped under the néolibéral label, that favour the freedom of business and minimal regulation and those that favour a higher degree of intervention by government and other public communities in the definition and actualisation of a tourism policy that takes the collective interest in consideration.
It is therefore in the interest of the trade union movement to be heard in all forums at the international, national or regional level where directions for tourism are discussed and adopted, which is still not the case today; non governmental organisations are still more listened to and associated to the reflection than trade union organisations are. The latest incarnation of the World Tourism Organisation’s consultation of the whole of the “industry”, for purposes of the development of a worldwide code of ethics for the tourism industry, of which trade unions were not even informed at any level or at any time, is a clear indication of the lack of recognition affecting the labour movement in the tourism sector.
The issue for the IUF and its affiliates is to promote sustainable tourism, guarantee of the future of tourism and therefore of the jobs associated with it. Sustainable tourism respects the natural and cultural environment, the local populations, the tourists and the tourism industry workers.
The Trade Group adopted a policy paper on tourism, which was approved by the Executive Committee of the IUF. An amendment has been proposed by the affiliated Barbados Workers’ Union (Barbados). The Trade Group Board discussed the proposed amendment at its meeting in Cairo in November 2000 and, following verification with the amendment’s author, suggested that the Conference adopt the proposed amendment. The amendment adds the following sentence at the end of the paragraph entitled “A balanced development”: The local population today and for generations to come should have free access to beaches and beach lands in their own countries. The text of the policy appears as Appendix 1, with the amendment in underlined italics.
The Secretariat proposes that the Conference adopt the proposed amendment and promote the IUF policy on tourism at all appropriate levels.
Negotiations on the General agreement on trade in services (GATS) bear essentially on the elimination of customs barriers in the service sector. The IUF has noted in a document (Appendix 2) that freedom of trade in services should be counterbalanced by guarantees for the various stakeholders in the tourism sector.
At the international level, the concept of sustainable tourism has been discussed at the meeting of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development held in New York in April of 1999. At that meeting, the union delegation coordinated by the ICFTU was able to express its views and have some of its concerns considered. Since that time, the World Tourism Organisation (WTO), tasked with ensuring the follow-up to that meeting, has called only one meeting (Costa-Rica, January 2000) of a working group in which neither the unions nor non-governmental organisations are represented, due to a lack of means.
At the same time, the WTO has adopted a worldwide code of ethics in tourism, while private initiatives such as certification systems, ecolabels, environment awards and voluntary codes of conduct are multiplying. These initiatives all claim to be based on the sustainable tourism concept, but most fail to take the social responsibility issues in consideration.
The Conference may wish to encourage affiliates to recall at all appropriate levels the need to include social issues in a vision of sustainable tourism. It may wish for the Secretariat to take an inventory of unilateral sustainable tourism initiatives and provide affiliates with the means to assess the value of these initiatives at the international, national and regional level. It may wish to request the Secretariat continue its efforts with the WTO so that the labour movement’s views on the worldwide code of ethics in tourism are better considered.
The United Nations have declared 2002 the International Year of Ecotourism. A summit on this issue will be held in Quebec City, Canada, May 19-22, 2002. The summit will be preceded by preparatory meetings in numerous countries.
The Conference may wish to encourage affiliates to take an active part in those meetings and to join with non-governmental organisations that are calling for an analysis of the pros and cons of ecotourism before launching an all-points promotion.
The labour movement has a duty to support the struggles of the stakeholders in the tourism industry. In response to a call from the main leader of the democratic movement in Burma, Auung San Suu Kyi, recently forwarded by Than Htun, director of the Burma/United Nation liaison office in New York, the IUF and its affiliates are participating in the initiatives to discourage tourists from visiting Burma. Many national union centres from various countries have contacted their governments and/or corporations with operations in Burma to remind them of the condemnation of the Burma military junta by the ILO International Labour Conference of June 2000, and encourage them to take initiatives.
The Trade Group Conference may wish to encourage affiliates to joint these campaigns to boycott tourism in Burma and to lobby hotel and restaurant corporations (e.g., the Accor Group) to cease operations in Burma until such a time as the situation regarding human and union rights has shown positive developments.
Support for union struggles also goes through the IUF’s list of Hotels we recommend and Hotels we don’t (see Appendix 3).
The Trade Group Conference may wish to urge affiliates to work jointly with the Secretariat to produce on a regular basis an up-to-date and reliable list of hotels to be recommended or not.
At the regional level, the European Union is establishing guidelines for tourism. During an intergovernmental seminar held in Lille, France, on November 22, 2000, an IUF representative was allowed to express the labour movement views. . Among the directions proposed by the seminar, there is the need for coordinated action to improve training and working conditions, the need for more in-depth social dialogue, the implementation of an observation system for jobs in the tourism sector, a reflection on the consequences of the trends toward concentration among tourism operators and distributors.
The Conference may wish to encourage IUF affiliates and the General Secretariat to exchange information on the development of the tourism policy at the regional level and to promote the participation of the labour movement to all reflections on this matter at the regional level.
The IUF has contacts with a number of non-governmental organisations active in the tourism sector: Tourism Concern in the UK, Arbeitskreis Tourismus und ntwicklung (AkTE) in Switzerland. The IUF has agreed to be a stakeholder along with these two organisations in a three-year project on human and trade union rights in the tourism industry in the Southern Hemisphere. When this project is finalised, the IUF will put the authors of the project in contact with affiliates of various countries in the Caribbean, Latin America, Africa and Asia.