October 7 2022
Ottawa (07 Oct. 2022) — In recognition of the financial pressure workers around the world are experiencing, the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) has made wage justice the focus of World Day for Decent Work.
A combination of inflation and profiteering by large corporations means that an increasing number of workers and their families are being pushed into poverty. Around the world, more than 50% of all households are struggling to get by and 10% are unable to meet the cost of essentials.
Income and wealth inequality increasing
For decades income and wealth inequality have been increasing. This can be traced back to policies that restricted the power of unions and significantly reduced the taxes the wealthy were required to pay.
But since the COVID-19 pandemic, income and wealth inequality have increased even faster. 700,000 more people have fallen into poverty every day, while billionaires have seen their share of the world’s GDP increase to 300% of what it was 2 decades ago.
Profiteering and supply chain problems caused inflation, but workers being blamed
Both the COVID-19 pandemic, and the Russian invasion of Ukraine have affected the supply of goods. They have also provided an opportunity for large corporations to engage in profiteering.
The profits of many large corporations have increased by significantly more than the rate of inflation. That suggests corporations are raising their prices by more than is needed to cover increasing costs.
At the same time, workers wages have lagged behind inflation. But even though the increase in wages is less than the inflation rate, workers are still being blamed by the corporate sector and its allies.
Strong unions needed for wage justice
Around the world, the choice workers face is fighting for wage justice or risking sliding into poverty. But if workers want wage justice, they need strong unions.
The very wealthy and large corporations have shown time and time again that they will oppose any attempt to make things fairer. And politicians that rely on large corporations and the wealthy for support can be counted on to do their bidding.
Here in Canada, we’ve faced wage caps and other measures intended to prevent unions from getting wage justice for their members. In many countries, workers fighting for wage justice face violence or imprisonment.
This is not surprising. Wage justice requires a reduction in wealth and income inequality. And even though a more equal society would be good for almost everyone, the very wealthy will oppose it with every means at their disposal.