“Do not just focus on the jobs, focus on the workers” says IMF chief

29 Jan 2014

IMF Managing Director, Christine Lagarde, addressed a packed audience of Brussels-based journalists and stakeholders yesterday on the topic of Jobs and Growth in Europe. Welcome words came from Ms Lagarde on the issue of social dialogue and the importance of workers, the people behind the jobs. Ms Lagarde, currently rumoured to be keen to return to Europe for one of the top jobs at the EU table, was joined by Wolfgang Schäuble, German Finance Minister, and his Spanish counterpart, Luis de Gunidos for the event hosted by the European Policy Centre.

“Do not just focus on the jobs, focus on the workers” says IMF chief

The event was organised by the IMF as a book launch for its new publication: “Jobs and growth: Supporting the European recovery”. In setting out a roadmap for Europe to follow, Ms Lagarde wanted to move the policy focus away from an obsession with structural reforms. Instead, policies which have an impact on the ground, such as education and skills improvement can help labour markets help in creating growth.

On social dialogue, Mr Schäuble underlined the importance of including trade unions at both the public and the private level, but that each country had its own traditions of dealing with the social partners. For CESI, it is clear labour markets run smoother with effective social dialogue.

Ms Lagarde also entered into the debate on social dialogue. While clearly advocating for job creation, the IMF chief also considered those behind the jobs, the workers. Ms Lagarde said, “We should not be trying to protect jobs, we should be trying to protect employees”.

While these words are very welcome by CESI, far more needs to be done in terms of actions to show a commitment to the protection of workers. Currently, the IMF still has much to answer for in its role in one third of the Troika which has seen devastating cuts to public sector jobs and public services in countries such as Spain and Portugal.