Davos: dangerous complacency over global economy

Political and business leaders at this week’s Davos World Economic Forum meeting are showing few signs of recognising their failure to tackle governance of the global economy, according to the international trade union delegation attending the gathering. “Governments have got it badly wrong and are showing dangerous complacency even as the obvious cracks in the world economy are widening” said ITUC General Secretary Guy Ryder.

The global union movement has set out a series of urgently-needed measures to deal with the falling share of national income going to wages around the world, the need for proper regulation and transparency in financial markets, stimulating growth in key economies, tackling unemployment and poverty, and arresting the decline in social institutions and public services. The four pillars of decent work – employment, workers’ rights, social protection and social dialogue – are necessary components of the remedy to the current crisis.

“Governments are faced with a stark choice – business as usual, with a roller-coaster economy where working people receive few of the benefits of upswings and bear most of the brunt of the bad times, or coherent and responsible global cooperation. Governments have to understand the need for proper financial regulation, and this time, they need to get it right”, said John Evans, General Secretary of the OECD Trade Union Advisory Committee.

The union statement highlights inequality as a major factor in the current instability, with the share of national income going to wages decreasing continuously over recent decades in the vast majority of developing and industrial countries.

“The ‘golden era’ of globalization has made a lucky circle very rich indeed, but most people are missing out on the benefits. When workers get a fair share of the pie, economies work better because they have the purchasing power to simulate growth. The world desperately needs politicians to show the courage to make this happen”, said Philip Jennings, General Secretary of UNI Global Union.

Another key message from the unions at Davos is the pressing need to invest in “green jobs”, with the twin aims of tackling climate change and creating high quality employment. The ITUC is working with the United Nations Environment Programme and the International Labour Organisation on an ambitious agenda to achieve this.

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