ILO Wage Report confirms global attack on workers

By Sharan Burrow

 

The state of the world for working people and their families is anything but optimistic.

The world’s governments still lack the political will to act, and international institutions from the UN to the IMF are failing to treat workers’ rights as human rights.

Minimum Wage rally in the US (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

 

Workers are on the frontline of a war on their living and working conditions, from the very forces that brought the financial system to its knees in 2008.

These attacks on workers’ rights are attacks on their human rights.

Released on the eve of International Human Rights Day, the ILO’s new Global Wage Report confirms the evidence that workers gave the ITUC during our global panel of inquiry held in countries around the world.

Wages are declining across the world.

Global monthly wages only grew by 1.2 per cent in 2011, down from three per cent in 2007 and 2.1 per cent in 2010.

They are falling because of financial market deregulation and the weakening of labour institutions such as trade unions and collective bargaining.

The ITUC Global Poll 2012 found that one in seven respondents who had a job did not earn enough money for essentials like housing, food and electricity.

For 58 per cent of people their income had failed to keep pace with increases in the cost of living.

Georgia, a young women living in Athens, told me: “In the last three years my salary was cut off by 45 per cent. I can’t do any more the things I used to do.

“For the first time in my 38 years, I can’t pay my bills.   My mother’s pension is €320 a month, she can’t live and I can’t help her.”

I have sat with many workers and listen to their stories.

Unemployment, economic insecurity and income inequality have reached intolerable levels. Political and social cohesion are increasingly under threat.

Those who remain in jobs are facing an unprecedented attack on their wages, working conditions and their rights.

Collective bargaining systems are being dismantled and the fundamental aspects of labour codes are being weakened.

After five years of the financial crisis, speculative capital is still putting the real economy at risk, and profits before people.

Inequality within and between countries is growing.

According to the ILO Global Wage Report, the decline in wage share in the US would have been greater if not for the rising income among the top 1 per cent of income earners.

The income of these people is mainly derived from dividends and other financial transactions that should really be treated as profits.

People in work, earning a decent wage, who feel secure in their jobs are the fundamentals for growth and how we will work our way out of the global financial crisis.

Despite the failure of the current dominant economic policies, multi-lateral institutions, including the European Commission, the ECB and the IMF, and the Troika in Greece are pursuing ruthless conditionality that not only targets the incomes but also the rights and the security of working people.

This is harmful and dangerous to lives and communities.

The ILO, armed with their Global Wage Report can now stand up to these policies.

 

Equal Times - Newsletter
Follow
us!