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It is time to do what the people want

22 July, 2013According to ITUC’s most recent Global Poll 2013, the people of the world want affordable health care, pensions, education, childcare and security against unemployment. It is the task of the unions to mobilize so that political decision-makers take this clear message seriously.

The poll published on 17 July 2013 by the International Trade Union Confederation ITUC is truly representative. 13,000 people from Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Japan, Russia, Spain, South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States were interviewed, representing the opinions of 3.7 billion people.

The ITUC Global Poll is interesting reading. Despite obvious differences between various countries, the basic message of the respondents is clear. People feel abandoned by their governments.

80 percent of voters say their government has failed to effectively tackle unemployment. Only 13 percent of voters believe their government is focused on the interests of working families.

Seeing what is happening in different countries, it is not surprising that people feel governments are prioritizing business interests, saving banks instead of saving people. Unemployment and inequality are rising. No wonder people are taking to the streets in different parts of the world.

Respondents gave an almost unanimous opinion of what they want from their governments:

  • Affordable health care (97%)
  • Affordable education (97%)
  • Decent retirement income (96%)
  • Affordable access to childcare (92%)
  • Unemployment benefits (88%)

These demands reflect the reality of our world where 80 percent of the population have no health insurance or pension. As part of our political work, IndustriALL will join the ITUC in a campaign to mobilize workers and unions for a social protection floor. We need to guarantee these basic human rights for all citizens.

The creation of good quality jobs remains a major urgency. More than 200 million people in the world are out of work. Of them 75 million are under 25 years old. Respondents to the ITUC Global Poll have clear demands to their governments on how to boost employment and reduce inequality:

  • Invest in education, research and new technologies (92%)
  • Invest in clean energy and environment-related industries (88%)
  • Stop tax evasion (86%) and raise taxes for large companies (80%)

IndustriALL supports the international campaign for tax justice and against tax havens. Despite some modest measures taken by governments, major multinational companies and wealthy individuals are actively dodging taxes. We need these lost billions to provide social protection and quality public services.

All these are questions of values and political will. Trade unions need to be political actors. We need to mobilize to ensure that we have in governments and parliaments decision-makers who will give people what they want.

Jyrki Raina

General Secretary