Getting the World to Work- Global Union Strategies for Recovery

The following is the introduction  by Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary, to the Global Unions' Publication "Getting the World to Work- Global Union Strategies for Recovery" as a response to the world crisis.

There is no escaping the despair caused by recession and economic decline.  Across the world millions of workers and their families are suffering because they cannot keep their jobs and cannot get work as the deepest recession since the 1930s begins to bite. 

The misery of mass unemployment is felt everywhere. In the United States job losses began in the first days of 2008 and accelerated after the financial crash in October with 3.3 million jobs lost in the last six months alone.  There are fears that unemployment will reach 12 per cent.[1]  In Europe the jobs crunch is just becoming visible. The European Commission predicts a jobless rate of 9.5 per cent next year.  Many economists fear it will be higher.  

All the predictions are gloomy. With production falls in Japan and the emerging Asian economies included, the International Labor Organization predicts an increase in jobless figures of 50 million across the globe. Even this is thought to be an optimistic figure. Workers face the ordeal of a slump that has no precedent in their lifetimes.

At this critical moment, trade unions are mobilising. They have a vision for the world economy that goes beyond tinkering with regulation and repairing broken models of free trade. They argue that it is time to forge a new policy landscape that will create a fairer and more sustainable world economy for future generations. 

It is a vision that fits with the history of our time, arguing for the elimination, once and for all, of extreme capitalism and the unrestrained greed that have perverted so much of the global financial system.

In this special publication, the Global Union Federations, working with the Trade Union Advisory Committee to the OECD and the International Trade Union Confederation, set out alternative strategies for the global economy that are focused on getting people back in work and for a recovery plan based on humanitarian values. 

These arguments, adopted by the Council of Global unions, were put before world leaders in Washington in November 2008 and were on the table again at the meeting of the Group of 20 in London in April 2009. Put simply, unions demand a change of direction and a break with the greed, self-interest and inequalities of the past. They insist that governments put people first for a change.

The publication can be accessed at the Global Unions' website at

[1] Economist  March 14th 2009