World Facing 'Unprecedented Jobs Crisis': Union Leader

The world is facing an employment crisis and growing social unrest as leaders from the developed world focus on deficit reduction rather than jobs, the general secretary of one of the world's biggest unions told CNBC Thursday.

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"We have an unprecedented global jobs crisis," Philip Jennings general secretary, UNI Global Union, told CNBC on the edge of the G20 summit in Cannes.

"Look what happened in the Arab Spring or Occupy Wall Street. There's a sense out there that the social dimension has been lost and people are getting lost in this whole agenda to deal with the deficit," he said.

His comments are supported by Monday's International Labour Organisation (ILO) report, which said that the world economy is on the verge of a new and deeper jobs recession that could lead to social unrest in "scores of countries."

Close to 80 million jobs need to be created over the next two years to bring employment levels back to pre-crisis rates from before the crisis, according to the ILO. UNI estimates suggest that only 40 million will be added.

Employment has still not returned to pre-crisis levels in the developed world.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy gave UNI's concerns a "sympathetic" hearing Wednesday, Jennings said.

The 2010 G20 Toronto summit, at which the European countries emphasized the importance of deficit reduction, while the U.S. gave greater importance to stimulus packages, marked a key turning point in the jobs crisis, according to Jennings.

"The huge mistake in Toronto was to get blown off their focus on jobs. Everybody's serious about deficit reduction but it depends how you do it," he said. "The trade union side understands what the problem is, but we want to put people back onto the agenda. If we don't have a growth strategy, we won't deal with the deficit. "

He praised President Barack Obama's policies on employment.

"Here's a leader who has stood up and said we have to have a jobs strategy," said Jennings. "He has got the illiterate Republican congressmen and senators who don't get the jobs message."

The worldwide Occupy movement, which has the Occupy Wall Street encampment at its center, shows growing discontent with the way the financial crisis has been handled.

"We are on the edge of another crisis. There's a social crisis and it's growing," Jennings warned.