Addressing the 100th session of the International Labour Conference on Monday, Greece's Labour and Social Insurance Minister Louka Katseli stressed the need for leaders that can "look at the past with a critical eye and provide solutions for the future that enhance the legitimacy of the democratic process".
She stressed that such solutions would have to promote employment and social cohesion, so that people did not feel that they were "too small to matter".
Katseli noted that the world financial crisis of 2007 had now been converted to a liquidity, debt and employment crisis in many countries, one that had served to increase joblessness, inequality and political and social tensions.
She stressed the need for a collective and methodical effort to tackle global macroeconomic imbalances, effectively regulate international financial markets and fairly share out the benefits and costs of globalisation between developed and developing countries.
The minister also underlined the need to more fully understand the increased interdependence of financial markets and the real economy, reaching the appropriate conclusions for the planning and implementation of appropriate policies.
In the case of Greece, especially, which for the past year had been implementing an ambitious programme of fiscal adjustment and enhanced competitiveness, Katseli emphasised that moderating the rise in unemployment, preserving social cohesion and a stability policy were key conditions for success.
The minister identified four priority areas that needed immediate attention, saying these included a better coordination of fiscal policy and the policies for labour and social insurance, measures to actively promote employment - while improving work inspection to discourage abuses of greater flexibility - measures to provide enough liquidity to small businesses to allow them to preserve and increase jobs and, finally, an active social dialogue on innovative policies and governance reforms that would be able to deal with the new challenges created by globalisation.
Among others, Katseli pointed out that cutbacks in public spending and raised taxes also impacted on employment and growth, while employment and social insurance policies affected productivity and state revenues. While stressing that these policies should not be allowed to increase inequality and an unfair distribution of burdens, she also noted that employment benefit and welfare spending should not act as an incentive for undeclared labour and tax evasion.
On Monday afternoon, Katseli will participate in a discussion on employment and social justice in a globalised economy.