May 1, 2012—The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) is holding the world’s first global inquiry for workers as wages, pensions, social security rights to union representation, and collective bargaining come under new attack.
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New evidence in the International Labor Organization’s “World at Work Report 2012” shows how worker rights have been eroded by governments between 2008 and 2012 under the guise of the economic crisis.
- 60 percent of workplace reforms by governments have taken away workers’ rights.
- 15 of 25 countries have relaxed collective dismissal rights for economic reasons.
- 65 percent of workplace reforms have taken away the rights from temporary workers.
“Governments are failing working people by clinging to failed economic policies," said ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow. "The political contract between people and elected politicians has broken down. In a wide range of countries, finance and big business is increasingly dictating policies to governments as they weather the global economic crisis.”
The ITUC inquiry will hear firsthand testimony from workers in Bulgaria, Greece, Indonesia, Mexico, Portugal, and Romania .
“We are mobilizing to defend basic rights in countries where the new frontlines in the attack on workers’ rights are opening up," said Burrow. "Politicians must raise their ambitions and respond to the needs of working people.”
Taking part in the ITUC global inquiry is an eminent international panel including Jay Naidoo, founder of COSATU; Poul Rasmussen, former president of European Socialists; and Maria Helena Andre, former labour minister of Portugal.
The ITUC has outlined five global threats to the conditions and rights of working people:
- An unregulated financial system and bond markets and rating agencies that have the power to dominate governments and impose spending cuts.
- A rush to austerity by European governments.
- The promotion of anti-worker ideology, in particular through the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
- A legacy of the World Bank’s ‘Doing Business’ project and the OECD’s ‘Going for Growth’ report.
- IMF and European Commission conditionality that diminishes rights.
Cross-posted from ITUC Online, April 30, 2012