Rewrite global economy rules to create jobs – poll
Publish date: 17 May 2017
Issue Number: 187
Diary: Legalbrief Workplace
The majority of workers in South Africa, or 75% of those surveyed, want a pay increase from their employers according to the country findings of the annual International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) Global Poll for 2017 that has been released ahead of this weeks’ G20 Labour Ministers meeting. Federation of Unions of South Africa (Fedusa) general secretary Dennis George says in a Polity report that many workers in South Africa find themselves trapped in poorly paid, insecure and dead-end jobs. ‘In the third quarter of 2008, half of all employed people earned less than R2 500 a month and over a third earned under R1 000 a month, according to Statistics South Africa. The informal sector, agriculture and domestic work contributed a third of all employment, but two thirds of working people in those sectors are earning less than R1 000 a month. In addition, one in five African women is employed as a domestic worker,’ says George. The ITUC says what the world needs is a pay rise to reverse decades of wage theft and to create growth. Inaction not only denies social justice to the world’s working people, but the growing despair threatens peace, democracy and security for everyone.
The annual global poll commissioned by the 181m-member ITUC shows that globalisation is failing people, says the ITC. ‘Too many governments have compromised people’s prosperity in the face of corporate greed with low wages and insecure work. The rules of the global economy have been distorted to put the interests of the richest 1% and corporations ahead of working people, and this power imbalance is driving mistrust in governments,’ Sharan Burrow, ITUC general secretary is quoted in a Scoop report as saying. The poll covers a total of 16 countries representing 53% of the global population. Burrow said the poll showed how globalisation and inter-connectedness, coupled with exponential technological progress and innovation, have created incredible wealth but left too many working people marginalised and fearful of an insecure future. The results of the poll conducted in March in Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Denmark, France, Germany, Guatemala, India, Japan, Russia, South Arica, South Korea, the UK and the US is a warning that governments have all but abandoned responsibility for investment in jobs and tackling inequality and climate devastation, resulting in massive insecurity.
‘The opportunities to grow sustainable economies, together with social protection, secure jobs and decent living wages exists, but urgent co-ordinated action is required by the G20. The dominant global trade model of supply chains is a model of labour arbitrage, Business World reports Burrow said. ‘When 85% of people say it’s time to rewrite the rules of the global economy to promote growth and share property, G20 leaders should have the confidence to take action knowing that they have the support of voters. Previous G20 commitments to invest in jobs, reduce the disparity between productivity and labour income share, increase participation of women and young people in the workforce and formalise informal work and ensure rights in global supply chains need to be put in place,’ said Burrow. The report says the German G20 presidency has realised that digitalisation is growing exponentially and that despite new opportunities, decent work will be further threatened by the absence of labour rights and employment protections. People aren’t scared of technology they’re worried about jobs – 85% of people believe new technologies will make jobs easier to do. But when 64% of people want their government to regulate the digital economy to promote employment and workers’ rights, governments have a clear mandate to act,’ said Burrow.