20 January, 2023The global elite has met again in Davos, Switzerland, this week, after a break of a few years due to Covid – and they are richer than ever.
"Building strong unions is our key to changing the balance of power. And changing the balance of power is the only path towards a just society"
says Atle Høie IndustriALL general secretary
Every year for the past ten years, the charity Oxfam has released a report on growing income inequality to coincide with the Davos meeting. The report always shows the rich getting richer, and the concentration of wealth getting tighter, while wages and public services are squeezed for everyone else.
This year, the report finds that the richest one per cent have pocketed $26 trillion of the new wealth created since the start of the pandemic. 63 per cent of all new wealth has gone to the one per cent, leaving the rest to be shared, unequally, among everyone else.
This would be perverse even at the best of times – but against the backdrop of the climate crisis, war, a cost of living crisis caused by out of control inflation, rising pension ages, collapsing public services and a global recession, it is obscene.
Every year, there is anguished comment about growing inequality, with politicians on both the right and the left promising change. And yet every year, inequality grows.
We need to recognize that no one is coming to save us. And we need to remember that ultimately, all wealth is created by workers. To change the balance of power and the distribution of wealth, we need to organize.
Despite the bleak headlines, there are many examples of IndustriALL affiliates – from the UK to Turkey and India and everywhere in between - winning for workers. We need many more victories like these.
Organizing must be a priority for all us, and building union density is one of IndustriALL’s building blocks for a just future. This means recruiting many more new members, but it also means being strategic about where we put our resources and build our structures.
We need to increase our density at key employers and sectors. The more members we have at a workplace, the stronger our negotiating position, the better settlements we can win. And winning good collective agreements sets a precedent which drives up conditions across the economy. Ultimately, the more workers we bring under the umbrella of collective agreements, the better for everyone.
We need to build strong and responsive union committees at workplace level, with reps who are able to respond effectively to the everyday needs of members. And we need to recognize that the economy is in a constant state of change, and not just rely on sectors where we have been traditionally strong – we need to branch out into new sectors and recruit workers we may have neglected in the past.
For some principles on winning good organizing campaigns, please see our publication Organizing with IndustriALL.
Build strong unions. Organize globally. Confront global capital, and shift the balance in favour of workers.