G20 labor ministers to meet despite Europeans' absence
US Labor Secretary Hilda Solis pressed ahead Monday with plans for a first-ever meeting of her G20 counterparts, despite the absence of ministers from Britain, France, Germany and the European Commission because of disrupted air travel to and from Europe.
Solis said the "historic" meeting would go ahead in Washington on Tuesday and Wednesday as planned without European ministers caught up by the ban on airline travel caused by an ash cloud from Iceland.
"We do know that there are a few ministers who will not be able to make it obviously, because of the volcanic eruption," she said adding that European ministers would send surrogates.
Despite the chaos wrought by volcano Eyjafjoell, which has spewed ash across swathes of northern Europe, Solis said the meeting would achieve "concrete results."
The meeting was set up during a Pittsburgh meeting of G20 leaders in September at the behest of President Barack Obama, who faces a tough domestic challenge in putting millions of Americans back to work.
Solis said the meeting would "ensure that employment issues and the challenges that the economic crisis is posing for working families is kept front and center in our mission."
The International Labor Organization has estimated that 20 million jobs have been saved or created by government stimulus spending in 2009 and 2010.
"We still need to create more jobs," Solis said adding that delegates would prepare a set of recommendations that will be discussed at a G20 summit in Toronto in June.
"We have an historic opportunity to come up with a concrete set of recommendations," she said.
The ministers are expected to discuss further job creation measures as well as expansion of unemployment insurance and skills development.
© 2010 AFP