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Davos 2014: Unions call for leaders to reshape the world economy with jobs and decent wages

22 January, 2014Working people and their families need an urgent shift in policies by leaders to investment in jobs, a minimum wage on which people can live and social protection.

The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) Global Poll of 13 countries found 87 percent of people say their wages are falling behind the cost of living or stagnant. One out of eight respondents said they are struggling financially and can no longer pay for basic living expenses. According to the ITUC, financial forecasts point to stagnation – not recovery – with nearly 200 million people unemployed.

“In a stagnant global economy, it is investment that will kick start jobs and demand. We cannot assume that growth alone will create jobs. The global economy cannot recover on export-led growth if wages don’t rise. There must be an expansion of demand – particularly from working households,” warned Sharan Burrow, General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation.

The past year has seen growing inequality and a widening gap between leaders and citizens. Only 13 percent of people in the ITUC Global Poll of the general public in 13 countries think that governments are acting in their interests. 28 percent of people are disenchanted or worse, disengaged, believing that governments are acting in the interest of neither people nor business.

Commenting on the report, Jyrki Raina, general secretary of IndustriALL Global Union, said:

Inequality is a huge obstacle on the road to economic recovery and poverty wages have a devastating impact on workers. In too many countries and industries around the world workers are not paid a living wage, a wage that covers life’s necessities. This is well-known, and governments and employers now need to take their responsibility.

The Davos 2014 plan set out by labour leaders for investment and jobs, wages and social protection includes:

  • Targeted investments in infrastructure to improve long-term productive potential and move to a low-carbon economy;
  • Raising the purchasing power of low- and middle-income households by reducing inequality and strengthening collective bargaining and minimum wages;
  • Investing in active labour market policies to raise skill levels and reduce youth unemployment; and
  • Reducing informality and creating decent work in emerging and developing countries