On the 150th anniversary of the TUC and the 70th anniversary of the TUAC, a joint conference was organised in London on the 12th of November. Under the overarching theme of drawing the lessons from the 2008 Financial Crisis, speakers and participants discussed some of the big international economic issues facing trade unions and the political left, to help develop policies and strategies at the international level. Below are some of the key messages, followed by a more detailed impression of the discussions.
- Globalisation has become a runaway train breaking the post-war social contract: paid work is no longer a guaranteed way out of poverty in the UK
- Populism and anti-politics are a reaction to this but instead of an inward-looking agenda the solution must come from the global stage. To foster a global debate on an alternative approach, the global Trade Union movement has a key role to play.
- Immediate reform to the global architecture includes better macro coordination between countries, strengthening global reserves, making use of capital control mechanisms, public development banks and, last but not least, international cooperation in favour of wage led growth.
- Better understanding of the global monetary architecture and associated domestic goals under the Bretton Woods era that were so successful for global prosperity and the standard of living with the aim of a new Bretton woods for today’s world.
- Trade unions and collective bargaining make a difference. They work to improve wages and working conditions, keep inequalities under control and contribute to better quality jobs and contracts.
- Technology is not behind the decline in the labour share. What is driving this decoupling of wages from productivity is a secular weakening of workers’ bargaining power, brought about by globalisation, financialisation and falling trade union membership or collective bargaining coverage.
- Growth is often “wage-led” with a higher labour share resulting in more, not less investment and growth.
- Strong trade unions are indispensable to make growth ‘inclusive’
For the full report, see pdf attached