New Report: ITUC Frontlines 2012

IMF labour advice pushes countries into recession and makes people poorer

International unions have today released a new report showing how IMF labour advice and other institutions including the European Commission and European Central Bank have pushed countries into recessions, made conditions worse for working families and is making people poorer.

The ITUC Frontlines 2012 report gives an over view of global economic conditions and a snapshot of six countries including Bulgaria, Dominican Republic, Greece, Indonesia, Nepal, Zambia and where growth, jobs and workers’ rights are in sharp decline.

Sharan Burrow, General Secretary of the ITUC, said the rise in attacks on working people stem from a crisis of political leadership where the interests of banks and financial institutions are put before people.

“Trillions of taxpayer dollars have been transferred to banks in direct grants or guarantees, while working people have had their wages and benefits slashed.

“International financial organisations including the IMF have focused their attentions on fiscal consolidation, with no regard for how this affects working people who have lost their jobs and had their wages slashed.

“From Greece to Indonesia people are taking to the streets to show their anger. If we do not reverse these attacks on workers’ rights, we will see more political instability and social unrest,” said Sharan Burrow.

“Five years since the first signs of the global economic crisis emerged, the democratic contract with voters has been broken in many countries.

“58% of the general public in the ITUC global poll think their country is going in the wrong direction, and 67% do not think that voters have enough influence over economic decisions,” said Ms Burrow.

The report also debunks myths promoted by advocates of austerity.

-  In Greece, total government expenditure as a percentage of GDP was constantly below the EU 15 average between 2001 and 2007.

-  Bulgaria, which has implemented all of the flexible working conditions promoted by the IMF, has some of the worst rates of poverty in Europe, and 25% of homes have no flushing toilet.

-  In the Dominican Republic, the minimum wage has been reduced, and there is rising inequality despite economic growth. Their increase in poverty sets the country apart from other Latin American success stories where labour rights have been maintained.

The ITUC is calling on the IMF and international financial organisations to halt their attacks on workers’ rights and recognise that advice to deregulate labour markets is causing deep economic, social and political damage.

- Watch Ivan and Julia’s story

- Watch Georgia’s story

- Watch Hristomil’s story

- Watch Irini’s story

- Narayan Nepali Nepal

ENDS

Sharan Burrow will be attending the World Bank/IMF meeting in Tokyo from 10 – 12 October 2012. For interviews with Sharan Burrow, please contact Gemma Swart in Tokyo on gemma.swart@ituc-csi.org or +32 479 06 41 63.

Read the full report here

Photo: Ben Crowe

For further information, please contact the ITUC Press Department on: +32 2 224 0204 or +32 476 62 10 18