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World’s largest cities back call on public transport and labour rights


Thirty-eight of the world’s largest cities have come together to demand that G20 governments take action on the most pressing challenges facing the world in 2022. In particular, city leaders have highlighted better public transport and labour standards as two key solutions for policymakers across the globe.

The Urban 20 (U20) group is made up of the major cities of the G20 countries, all of which hold a critical position in the global economy. At the recent U20 summit, hosted in Jakarta at the end of August, the 38 cities finalised their joint communiqué to G20 leaders. The leaders of G20 countries will meet for their own summit in Indonesia in November this year.

Among its recommendations to G20 governments, the communiqué notes the importance of “safe, clean, reliable, inclusive and affordable” public transport in driving growth, cutting greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution, and connecting the poorest communities to social and economic opportunities. Crucially, the communiqué also calls for International Labour Organisation standards to be respected and implemented for all workers, regardless of employment status.

“U20 mayors have made their strongest commitment yet to public transport workers” said Alana Dave, ITF Urban Transport Director. “Public investment in and modal shift to public transport – founded on negotiating fair labour standards for the public transport workforce – would make all the difference to our post-pandemic recovery and climate action.”

The U20 is co-convened by C40 Cities, the overlapping network of world cities leading on climate action. The ITF and C40 have been collaborating closely on The Future is Public Transport campaign, and the U20 communiqué reflects the goals of this campaign. As a U20 partner, the ITF was also invited to submit a white paper on public transport in support of the demands on G20 leaders.

Meanwhile, the host city of Jakarta is already putting the communiqué into action. Shortly before the U20 summit, Governor Anies Baswedan met with local public transport unions to commence a just transition dialogue on the future of public transport in the city. Between them, SPKA, SPDT and SPTJ represent workers across all modes of public transport, and are keen to work with the governor on improving services and labour conditions in the system.

Enung Yani Rukman, the ITF public transport coordinator in Jakarta, celebrated the launch of this initiative: “Urban transport workers are at the forefront of the climate crisis. We support the need for infrastructure transformation and electrification that responds to the speed at which climate change is unfolding. We recognize the importance of involving multiple stakeholders in making policy about the future of public transport. These new transport systems must be based on meeting basic needs, including those of urban transport workers. I am particularly pleased that we will also have dialogue on promoting women’s employment.” The ITF and C40 will continue supporting the dialogue, with the aim of creating a blueprint in Jakarta for other cities to follow.

The world’s major cities have made their vision and needs clear. It now falls to G20 governments to take action on public transport and labour standards and steer us away from the economic, social and environmental disaster ahead.