Mobilisation against poverty and for decent work

We are faced with two problems: poverty and the non-universalisation of decent work. Both issues are inter-related and both are a consequence of human behaviour that can and must be corrected. This will not be an easy task and powerful lobbies and inertia must be overcome in order to resolve both problems.

Poverty is increasing. According to Intermon Oxfam figures, if austerity policies continue to be implemented, the austericide dictated by the Troika, there will be an increase of 25 million in the number of poor people in Europe between now and 2025, 8 million of whom will be Spanish.

Globally, despite an increase in the number of middle income wage earners in several countries, approximately 1.3 billion people earn less than one euro per day. This should lead us to examine whether the political priorities are reflective of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural rights in line with the Alliance against Poverty who consider that that poverty is a serious violation of human rights on a global scale. It prevents people from developing because once they find themselves in this situation, their focus is survival.

Its counterpart is wealth. Unequal wealth concentrated in the hands of a few. Statistics show that 8.1% of the world’s population (373 million people) control 82.4% of total global wealth. Within this group of people, approximately 29 million control 39.3% of the total wealth on the planet. Since the 1970s, wage income as a percentage of the total income generated in the countries has been exceeded by capital income. In other words, the current crisis situation was preceded by a devaluation in wages and labour conditions and in any case by an unequal division of the advances made in the areas of technology and productivity.

This explains why a minimal percentage of the population appropriate further wealth, a tendency that has accelerated with the crisis in recent years. A financial crisis that we are all paying for but that was caused by and benefits, but a few. In parallel with the reduction in the wage share as a percentage of gross national income, a wave of defiscalisation was launched during which capital income was subject to comparatively increasingly lower levels of taxation income, because of a reduction in the tax rates, in a race to the bottom caused by the free circulation of capital, tax base erosion by multinational companies, speculative globalisation and the existence of tax havens.

Taxation determines the provision of public services and their universality, the capacity for social mobility and de facto, the democratic quality of the society.

Consequently, a two-fold approach is necessary; to attack the causes of poverty and to call for equitable taxation polices, while continuing to advocate for the universalisation of decent work.

Decent work implies an adequate wage, social protection and a sustainable socio-economic environment which allows economic independence for workers and their families. We must once again renew, share and redefine production processes and move towards fiscal redistribution in order to provide benefits and public services to all. The catastrophe that took place in Bangladesh and which caused the deaths of thousands of workers after the collapse of an industrial building which supplied large retail chains, including some Spanish chains, is not insignificant. It is a result of increased price competition, an absence of regulations and norms governing production and labour conditions in an environment characterised by capital mobility and anonymous profits.

In short, a form of globalisation against humanity in general and in favour of a 1% elite served by governments and international institutions through their policies and budgets.

This is why USO and SOTERMUN have adopted slogans and invite you to mobilise, to protest and to build alternative solutions which are achievable within a framework of organising activities.

On 7 October, World Day for Decent Work: Organise!
On 17 October, International day for the Eradication of Poverty, “Let’s take action against wealth that impoverishes”.

by Santiago González Vallejo - Economist
Affiliate of USO and SOTERMUN