From the TUC

Global union support for Britain Needs A Pay Rise demo

19 Oct 2014, By

As we marched through London on Saturday afternoon calling for an end to the longest decline in real wages since Victorian times, we had the support not only of the British trade union movement but also our colleagues around the world.

Nine international trade union leaders sent their best wishes and solidarity by video for playing on the big screen in Hyde Park, and their messages are all on the TUC You Tube channel, but I thought it would be a public service to list them all here, because what they’re all saying essentially is that it isn’t just Britain that needs a pay rise: this is a global issue, and the world needs a pay rise too. That’s the message Frances O’Grady will be taking to the G20 leaders’ meeting in Brisbane, Australia next month.

John Evans, chief economist for the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) and the Trade Union Advisory Committee to the OECD set that out clearly, explaining that as well as delivering social justice, a wage rise for the world’s workers would benefit the whole global economy. Sharan Burrow, head of the ITUC, said that collective bargaining and social protection were vital to restore equality to the global economy. And fellow-Australian Ged Kearney, President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions stressed that decent pay was a key component of her country’s ‘fair go’ mentality. But she explained how, even in resource-rich Australia, insecurity at work had eroded the level of workers’ wages and reduced the value of the decades-old minimum wage. Like many, she stressed that raising wages for ordinary workers should go hand in hand with cracking down on top executive pay.

Richard Trumka, leader of the USA’s labor movement, called for an economy that works for workers, and condemned the way that the 1% have taken all the growth for themselves. Higher wages for ordinary workers would boost the economy, not destroy jobs. He said that workers on both sides of the Atlantic were united in demanding a pay rise. Ron Oswald, leader of the world’s food workers (IUF), explained why nothing works better to lift people out of poverty than trade unions. And global transport workers’ leader Stephen Cotton of the ITF protested about workers on zero hours contracts and insecure employment. He said that unions were the biggest democratic movement in the world and could deliver change that people need.

European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) General Secretary Bernadette Segol condemned the fact that one in ten workers across the EU was earning a poverty wage. She insisted that ordinary people shouldn’t have to pay for the crisis. And Rosa Pavenelli, head of the world’s public services unions, argued against pay freezes, and said it was a crying shame that half a million British workers earnt less than the living wage. Reiner Hoffman, President of the German DGB said that the time of austerity was over, and if growth was to be fair and sustainable, workers need a pay rise, as well as a stronger voice at work.