Pressing forward: Putting the workers’ capital agenda to action

Ten Canadian pension trustees and trade union officials took part in the 2015 Workers’ Capital Conference in London, England to discuss opportunities and challenges with respect to the responsible stewardship of workers’ capital in a global context. The conference was held at the headquarters of the International Transport Workers’ Federation and included more than 100 pension trustees and trade union officials from North America, Europe, Africa and Australia.

The conference fostered stimulating discussions and allowed trustees to provide cross-country experiences on issues that included uncovering hidden transaction costs and fees paid throughout the investment chain, embedding stronger pro-labour practices in the investment policies of pension funds, and ensuring that fund investments into infrastructure assets encapsulate the social and worker benefit dimensions. Improving the quality of social information provided by sustainability rating firms and fostering global cooperation to engage with construction companies in Qatar over labour issues were also discussed.

The keynote address was delivered by Nick Robins from the UNEP-FI Inquiry Into the Design of a Sustainable Financial System. He highlighted recommended actions that asset owners can take as the planet shifts toward a low-carbon future. This includes disclosing the management of climate change risks and measuring the carbon footprint of portfolio holdings.

Finally, members of the new leadership team of the Global Unions Committee on Workers’ Capital, which is made up of Chair Ton Heerts (FNV-Netherlands), Co-chairs Liz Shuler (AFL-CIO-USA) and Paddy Crumlin (ITF-global) and ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow, presented their vision for the next steps in promoting the responsible investment of workers’ capital with a view to building a more fair and sustainable planet.

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