Governments should spend more money to combat high-rising global unemployment and less on a continuing arms buildup, the worldwide noncommunist International Metalworkers Federation (IMF) said at a conference in Rome June 10.
Labor leaders from 65 countries with union affiliates in the IMF described today's unemployment as a ''time bomb'' threatening to ''blight our future and destroy the bases of noncommunist societies.'' They joined in a call for a switch of resources from arms expenditures to public job programs and socially productive manufacturing.
Behind their concerns are statistics showing that 1 in 8 workers is jobless in industrialized nations of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Of the 28.5 million total, nearly 40 percent are under 25.
The jobless problem is considerably worse in the developing countries of the third world, where an estimated 210 million are out of work. In the United States, employment figures are going up despite a 9.5 percent unemployment rate, with 10.5 million idle. On the other hand, job totals are shrinking in most OECD countries. New jobs are not being created.
According to IMF secretary Herman Rebhan, today's worldwide unemployment is ''one of the greatest challenges the free-world labor movement has faced in this century.''
Leaders of major unions in steel, auto, and other metalworking industries acknowledge that arms spending creates jobs in defense industries, but they joined in the IMF appeal for a diversion of billions of dollars to peaceful uses for large-scale creation of jobs.
The IMF reported that in 1981 the equivalent of $550 billion was spent worldwide for arms, drastically limiting the amounts available to stimulate economies and create jobs.