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ITUC general secretary Sharan Burrow called for union power to be used to combat the spread of the “corporate jungle” today.
The labour organisation representing 176 million workers across the globe is holding its world congress in Berlin where 3000 will debate issues from austerity to collective bargaining.
Speaking to the world’s media, Ms Burrow said: “We will talk endlessly about jobs.
“The global economy needs co-ordinated action to raise living standards around the world.
“Seven years into the economic crisis has left structural damage to the global economy and the global workforce with more than 200 million people unemployed and many more struggling with low wages.
“Governments are in the grip of corporate power and are failing their people”
Ms Burrow revealed the results of an ITUC Global Poll covering 14 countries and 1000 respondents in each, showing that most people believe things are getting worse.
The poll shows:
• 79 percent do not believe the minimum wage is enough for a decent life.
• 82 percent say their wages have fallen behind the cost of living or remained stagnant.
• 88 percent support lifting the minimum wage in every country around the world.
The ITUC leader added: “The ITUC represents the largest global democratic community. Workers and their families expect better. We expect better of our governments, and we oppose the corporate bullies that are driving inequality in their own interests.”
Opening the World Congress, outgoing ITUC president Michael Sommer slammed governemnts for promoting neo-liberalism and supporting big financial interests to undermine workers’ conditions and the right to strike.
He said: “Trade unions are the strongest tool the weak have. We are fighting for democratic policies that serve people not profit.”