Image for post
Image for post
Photo: Enrique Mendizabal

Trust in globalisation is broken by a failed economic model of trade that fuelled exploitative supply chains in the quest for higher and higher profits.

Historic levels of inequality are not an accident but rather the relentless push for trade liberalisation without a floor of human and labour rights stands accused of being a significant part of the problem.

Add the corporate bullying of governments to ensure that labour markets are not regulated and you have a picture of dehumanising capitalism that disregards the very people who make profits possible.

Sixty per cent of global trade is now driven by…


Image for post
Image for post
photo: Alexandros Michailidis/PSI/Shutterstock

Saving lives at work requires occupational health and safety to be recognised as a fundamental right.

COVID-19 has exposed the risk for workers and without safe workplaces, the risks to the community. With so many frontline workers in health and care, food production and transport, the emergency services and education putting their lives on the line to do vital work, you would think everyone would know that workplace health and safety is one of the key issues in the pandemic. …


Image for post
Image for post
Copyright World Economic Forum (www.weforum.org) www.swiss-image.ch/Photo by Daniel Ammann

The choices made by world leaders and by business in 2021 will either heed the call of workers and civil society to reform the economic model and help create a just and sustainable future or maintain business as usual and see a model of corporate greed entrench inequality, exclusion and despair perpetuating instability for our communities and our planet.

Acknowledging the ugly face of vaccine nationalism will be a first test. The corporate greed that makes vaccines in South Africa more expensive than in the US is scandalous. But so too is the ‘profit-first’ approach that denies technology sharing to…


In a world that is facing a massive depression and where the equivalent of 495 million jobs have been lost and up to 1.6 billion people in informal work face destitution every day, greed still motivates the pandemic profiteers who have grown considerably wealthier.

The global economy is expected to contract 4.4 per cent this year — the sharpest contraction in modern history — throwing millions into poverty, according to the IMF. But the world’s billionaires have grown wealthier compared with 2019, according to data compiled by UBS with total billionaire wealth reaching $14.2 trillion as at July.

And despite…


Image for post
Image for post

Caring for each other is the most important work in society. It goes to the core of our humanity. In the face of the challenge of both recovery and resilience, investment in care creates jobs and boosts the economy.

Whichever way you look at it, investing in care is an imperative

IMF research outlines that a spend of 1% of GDP can create 33 million jobs and research from the UK shows that investment in care can create 2.7 times more jobs than the same investment in infrastructure, including construction. …


Image for post
Image for post
Reuters/Ahmed Yosri

The forthcoming G20 Finance Ministers meeting comes four months after the WHO declared Covid-19 a global pandemic, and governments began to put in place essential measures to stop or slow the spread of the virus. While the predictions of job losses and GDP contraction are now a daily reality for millions of workers, the full scale of the economic and social consequences are yet to be felt. In less than three months, the Covid-19 crisis wiped out the employment gains painfully achieved with the slow recovery from the Great Recession of 2008.

Even as the crisis continues the need for…


Image for post
Image for post

From the very first cases of infection in Wuhan, the Covid-19 pandemic has been about workplace health and safety.

The virus has shone a spotlight on the inadequate protection of many working people against risks at work, on the way that insecurity of employment and low wages heighten exposures to risk, and on the systemic failures of occupational health and safety law, nationally and multilaterally.

As the latest outbreaks in meatpacking plants and abattoirs in North-Rhine Westphalia in Germany, in Anglesey in the United Kingdom, in Brazil and the USA demonstrate, workplaces are one of the main places where people…


Image for post
Image for post
WTO Headquarters, Geneva, Switzerland.

The Covid-19 pandemic has brought global trade under closer scrutiny. From news outlets tracking supplies of essential personal protective equipment from country to country to companies being exposed for not honouring commitments for supply chain orders — a pandemic in globalised economies is forcing a reset of years of political orthodoxy.

People and their politicians will increasingly call for greater transparency in trade arrangements and demand a more balanced approach to trade policy. Leaders can no longer ignore the need for reforms to ensure fair and inclusive global trade. And people, nationally and internationally, must have the democratic rights and…


Image for post
Image for post
(Courtesy Wikipedia, CC 2.0)

COVID-19 is exposing the enormous inequality for women in work.

With women making up 70% of the global health and social care workforce and 58.6% of that of the service sector, the pandemic spotlight is uncovering the wage and safety divide for female-dominated occupations.

Workers on the frontlines include women in health and community care, women in food production and supermarkets, women in call-centres relaying critical information and women in online administration who are all in relatively low paid jobs. …


A Global Fund for Universal Social Protection can put them in place in the most vulnerable countries.

Four weeks ago, on 11th March 2020, the WHO Director-General declared COVID-19 a pandemic. As Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus rang the alarm bell and called for political leadership, he said that “all countries can still change the course of this pandemic”, but he noted that some countries are struggling with capacity, resources or resolve.

Four weeks later, more than four out of five people (81 per cent) in the global workforce of 3.3 billion are affected by full or partial workplace closures.

The…

Sharan Burrow

General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation. Representing the world's working people.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store