60 nations join forces to push for Tobin Tax | National Union of Public and General Employees

60 nations join forces to push for Tobin Tax

Small levy on international currency transactions would generate an estimated $35 billion annually.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has been increasingly isolated internationally by his opposition on behalf of big business to a Robin Hood tax on global financial transactions.Ottawa (3 Sept. 2010) - A group of 60 nations, including France, Britain and Japan, will propose at the United Nations (UN) later this month that a new tax be introduced on international currency transactions to raise funds to fight poverty around the world and stabilize the global economy by penalizing risky short-term speculation.

The concept (known as a Tobin Tax) was first suggested by Nobel prize-winning economist James Tobin in 1972.

In more recent years the idea has been expanded to include all commercial financial transactions (not just currency transactions) and is often referred to today as a Robin Hood Tax.

The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) has been a big supporter of both a Tobin Tax and a Robin Hood Tax, and joined together with other organizations worldwide in a major push leading up to the recent G8 and G20 meetings in June in Ontario.

The Conservative government of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper opposes a Tobin Tax and a Robin Hood (predictably, given its always close ties to big business) and as the host nation of the recent summits was able to prevent the idea from going forward. 

However, the Harper government is clearly offside with many world leaders on the issue (it has also been offside with international opinion on other key issues such as climate change, torture of Afghan detainees and the Middle East conflict).

Following meetings this week in Paris, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner announced that the group of 60 nations had agreed on a common position for presentation at the UN Millennium Development Goals summit on Sept. 21.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy also plans to make it a key issue at the next G20 gathering in November.

The group estimates that a Tobin Tax could generate as much as $35 billion a year for development aid and to fight global poverty. The amount of the Tobin Tax being proposed is actually quite small (about five cents for every 1,000 Euros) but it would make a big difference. 

"Many key details still need to be worked out but we believe if the political will is there, it could be done within 2-3 years," Belgium's Development Cooperation Minister Charles Michels told Reuters.


The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE

More information:
NUPGE endorses Robin Hood Tax on big banks