Poll: Governments told to tame corporate power as low wages and insecure jobs threaten global economic recovery

Workers across the globe are losing faith in their national governments whom they see as putting the interests of big corporations ahead of their own, according to a new international public opinion poll from the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC).

Released at the opening of the 3rd ITUC World Congress in Berlin, Sunday 18th May, the ITUC Global Poll 2014 commissioned from market research company TNS Opinion, covers the general public of fourteen countries which have half the world’s population.

“The global economy needs co-ordinated action to raise living standards around the world. Seven years into the economic crisis has left structural damage to the global economy and the global workforce with more than 200 million people unemployed and many more struggling with low wages. Governments are in the grip of corporate power and are failing their people” said Sharan Burrow, General Secretary, International Trade Union Confederation.

The poll showed:

  • 79 percent do not believe the minimum wage is enough for a decent life.
  • 82 percent say their wages have fallen behind the cost of living or remained stagnant.
  • 88 percent support lifting the minimum wage in every country around the world.

“The global labour movement meeting in Berlin at the ITUC World Congress has put entrenched business interests on notice. Nearly two-thirds of people want governments to tame corporate power.

People, dissatisfied with their own government’s performance, know they are increasingly in the grip of corporate power. The world has to change, power needs to be rebalanced.

Big business and big finance must be tamed or democratically elected governments risk becoming mere puppets in economic and social decisions,” said Sharan Burrow.
The poll showed growing levels of uncertainty about family income:

  • One in two can’t keep up with the rising cost of living.
  • Seven out of ten European respondents say their income has not kept up with the cost of living.
  • In the past three years over half the world’s population have not been able to save any money.

“Realising decent wages for working families and those on low incomes means tackling the excesses of the 1 %. When people can’t save, family security is threatened with no capacity to invest in housing or other assets. Savings represent an essential component of long-term balanced growth,” said Sharan Burrow.

The poll showed rising levels of concern about job security:

  • One in two have direct or family experience of unemployment.
  • 41 percent expect their job to be less secure in the next two years.
  • Only one in two people believe the next generation will find decent jobs.

The poll showed distrust in government and the economic system:

  • 68 percent think their government is doing a bad job at tackling unemployment.
  • Four out of five people (78 percent) believe the economic system favours the wealthy, rather than being fair to most.
  • More than half rate the current economic situation in their country as bad.

“When people increasingly fear for the next generation, it should be a warning for governments to act.

People want their governments to reduce the gap between rich and poor, ensure fair wages, and increase job security.

The ITUC represents the largest global democratic community. Workers and their families expect better. We expect better of our governments, and we oppose the corporate bullies that are driving inequality in their own interests,” said Sharan Burrow.
The results of the poll conducted in January in Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Russia, South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States represent the views of more than 3.7 billion people, or half the world’s population.

Notes for editors:
For a copy of the ITUC Global Poll 2014 report go to:

The ITUC World Congress opens in Berlin on Sunday 18th May and concludes on Friday 23rd May 2014. The ITUC represents nearly 180 million workers in 161 countries and territories from 325 national trade unions.

Press Conference for accredited media 12:45 – 13:15 pm in the Congress Live TV studio on Sunday 18th May with ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow.

Congress Diary Highlights Live-streamed (All times Berlin +2 GMT)

Sunday 18th May 14:30 – 16:00 Opening Ceremony
Frank-Walter Steinmeier, German Foreign Minister; ITUC President’s address - Michael Sommer, ITUC President; Helen Clark, UNDP Administrator, representing the United Nations; and Abdes Ouaddou, former Moroccan national football captain who played football in Qatar will also address the Congress.

Monday 19th May 9:00 – 12:30 Plenary
Sharan Burrow, General Secretary, ITUC; Guy Ryder, Director General, International Labour Organisation.

13:20 – 13:50 Congress Live: Panel debate ITUC Global Poll 2014 with Zwelinzima Vavi, General Secretary, COSATU (South Africa); Frances O’Grady, General Secretary, TUC (UK), Richard Trumka President, AFL-CIO (USA).

The ITUC Global Poll 2014 covers the adult populations of Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Russia, South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States. In each country approximately 1000 respondents were interviewed, yielding a total of 14,006 respondents. All interviews were conducted online. TNS Opinion carried out the field work 8 – 19 January 2014.
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