Member area

Consultation with unions part of solution to lack of trust

11 July 2024

Almost half of citizens in the OECD do not trust their governments. A shocking 44% of respondents have low or no trust in their national government, according to a new OECD study carried out in late 2023 in 30 countries including France, Germany, Italy and UK.


‘’Democracy is in danger when almost half of all citizens have low or no trust in their national government. It should act as a wake-up call for politicians across the political spectrum.”

— Veronica Nilsson, General Secretary, TUAC

The OECD call on governments to give citizens a greater say in decision-making, arguing that a sense of having a say in decision making is a key factor affecting trust.

The OECD also conclude that “Investing in reliable and fair public services, improving service delivery, and responding to user feedback can further enhance trust”.

While strongly supporting OECD’s recommendation on investment in public services, TUAC regrets that the OECD make no reference to consulting trade unions as an essential means to enhance citizen engagement and trust.

The OECD report also clearly sets out what are citizens’ top concerns: an average of 71% of respondents say that they are somewhat or very concerned about their household’s finances and economic well-being over the next one to two years. The prevalence of socioeconomic concerns is confirmed by the fact that 59% of people identify inflation as one of the three most important issues facing their country making it by far the most frequently cited concern. Poverty and social inequality are cited as top concerns by an average of 33% across the participating countries, and unemployment and jobs by 22%.

“Trade unions are key to the participation of working people in a functioning democracy and a vibrant civic space. Consultation with trade unions is vital to develop effective policies to tackle the main concerns of people in their day-to-day life: inequalities, jobs and falling living standards. Without consulting and negotiating with trade unions Governments will continue to suffer from low levels of trust among working people.”

— Veronica Nilsson

A summary of the OECD survey on trust in public institutions also gives access to country notes, detailing the main drivers of citizens’ (dis)trust as well as gaps in participative and representative democracy, and a link to the full report.

The OECD survey will be discussed at the next OECD Global Forum on Building Trust and Reinforcing Democracy, which will be held in Milan, Italy, on 21-22 October 2024.