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Unions: Invest trillion euros to combat 'failed' austerity

By Irene Chapple, CNN
updated 8:45 PM EDT, Tue May 28, 2013
(File photo} Protesters demonstrate against education cuts and reforms on May 9, 2013 in Madrid, Spain.
(File photo} Protesters demonstrate against education cuts and reforms on May 9, 2013 in Madrid, Spain.
  • Union representatives told OECD Forum policy makers must shift away from austerity
  • Unions have proposed nine-point plan including increased investment in job creation
  • The unions are also pushing for a crackdown on corporate taxation loopholes

Editor's note: CNN's Irene Chapple is reporting from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Council meeting in Paris. Follow her on Twitter.

Paris (CNN) -- The "failed" policies of austerity must be rejected and focus instead turn to job creation, international union representatives said during a meeting of global leaders in Paris Tuesday.

Members of the International Trade Union Confederation, speaking at the Organisation for Economic and Cooperation and Development (OECD) Forum, said the world needed to shift its focus as harsh austerity measures had been unable to pull troubled nations such as those in the eurozone out of recession.

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Richard Trumka, of the AFL-CIO union in the U.S., said austerity had "totally and utterly failed," destroying millions of jobs, driving economies into recession and choking recovery.

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It had created a "lost generation" of youth that economies and societies could not afford, he added.

General secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation, Sharan Burrow, said there was an "urgent need" to turn away from austerity with the issue now being "jobs, jobs, jobs."

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Burrow called for a 1 trillion euro investment into infrastructure as a way to create jobs and combat the financial crisis.

Polling conducted by the unions and presented at the conference showed seven countries -- Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Spain, UK and the U.S. -- supported, by a huge majority, investments in education, research and new technologies.

The research showed 92% of those polled supported investment in education, research and new technologies, 87% supported investment in clean energy and environmental industries and 85% supported policies to stop corporates avoiding tax. The results came from more than 13,000 online interviews over 13 countries in the second half of April 2013.

"We simply have a message that says people want action," Burrow said.

The comments come as, according to union figures, worldwide unemployment is set to rise above 200 million and youth unemployment hits 74 million.

Burrow said "there is enormous amounts of money" available to invest in policies for job creation, but it was tied up on corporate books and in speculative capital and needed to be redirected.

The unions are also pushing for a crackdown on tax havens, saying a coordinated jobs plan could be funded by closing corporate tax loopholes.

John Evans, general secretary of the Trade Union Advisory Council to the OECD, said: "Five years into the economic crisis the threat posed by tax havens has not disappeared. We need action not words."

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