International poll reveals more than half the world population say incomes fallen behind the cost of living

The global economy is no more stable today than it was six years ago as incomes fall behind the cost of living and two out of three people rate the current economic situation in their country as bad, according to a new global public opinion poll from the Labour 20, the trade union representatives to the G20.

Sharan Burrow General Secretary International Trade Union Confederation will call for new international architecture to be implemented under the Australian Presidency of the G20 in a speech to the Lowy Institute for International Policy today in Sydney.

“The state of the world for working people and their families is very bleak. Globally unemployment is rising above 200 million and youth unemployment is a problem in nearly every nation.

“Australia’s experience with quality jobs, social protection and youth guarantees including experience with apprenticeships and skills development demonstrates a pathway for other countries to follow.

“Collective action has been missing at the G20 since Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and fellow G20 leaders took ambitious steps to financial regulation, jobs and the green economy,” said Sharan Burrow.

Under the Australian Presidency of the G20, the Labour 20 will be co-ordinated by the ACTU and the ITUC.

The results of the ITUC Global Poll 2013, conducted in April and May in Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Japan, Russia, Spain, South Africa, the UK and the USA by global market research company TNS, are a warning to G20 leaders of the need for immediate action, said Ms Burrow.

The poll showed people feel abandoned by their governments as they fail to tackle unemployment and prioritise business interests over worker interests:

- 80 percent of voters say their government has failed to effectively tackle unemployment in their country;
- Only 13 percent of voters believe their government is focused on the interests of working families.

“Unemployment and inequality is poisoning our economies and society. Income-centred growth, promoting aggregate demand is the only solution.

Investing A$1.4 trillion into infrastructure – less than half of the public money handed to the banks, according to estimates across Europe and the U.S – will create decent jobs. It is workers in work that will restore growth, confidence and reduce inequality,” said Ms Burrow.

“A jobs plan, with decent work and turning words into action, would be a major step forward for the G20 to deliver on their promises. Jobs, collective bargaining, a minimum wage on which people can live, social protection and essential services are the core elements of reducing inequality and unemployment.

The poll of the general public also showed strong support for laws that protect rights for workers, Ms Burrow said.

- 64 percent think current laws do not protect workers’ job security.
- 68 percent of people strongly support a minimum wage.
- 91 percent of people support the right to join a union.

“The ill-timed move from stimulus to austerity has brought with it an attack on labour market institutions. Austerity has failed and prompted stagnating global growth, critical levels of unemployment and increasing social unrest which we have seen from Rio to Istanbul,” said Ms Burrow.


Read Sharan Burrow’s speech to the Lowy Institute for International Policy

Read the ITUC Global Poll 2013 report prepared for the Lowy Institute for International Policy

Gemma Swart L20 Media Lead + 61 414 873 291 [email protected]