Education International
Education International

Worldwide poll reveals mistrust of economic decision makers in the run-up to G20

published 12 June 2012 updated 13 June 2012

An international public opinion poll, commissioned by the International Trade Union Confederation from global market research company, TNS, shows deep uncertainty, fear and political dis-empowerment across a variety of countries and economies.

Released on the eve of the meeting in Mexico of the G20 summit beginning on 18 June, the poll shows widespread opposition to austerity measures, a collapse in the belief that governments are operating in the interests of their people, and strong support for labour laws across the 13 countries polled.

The results of the poll, conducted in May in Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, France, Germany, Greece, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, South Africa, UK and the USA, sounds a warning bell not just for those governments, but for global financial governance in general.

The poll showed:

  • 58% of people think their country is going in the wrong direction;
  • 66% think that future generations will be worse off;
  • 67% think that international banks and financial institutions have too much influence on the economic decisions of their governments. Conversely, 67 % think that voters don’t have enough influence on economic decisions.

The poll also showed growing levels of uncertainty about family income and job security:

  • One in seven respondents are working poor – without enough money for basic essentials like housing, food and electricity;
  • For 58% of people, their income has fallen behind the cost of living;
  • One in three people think their jobs are less secure than two years ago.

Moreover, the poll shows strong rejection of the austerity policies being followed by some governments, and support for jobs and investment in infrastructure.

  • 78% of people think international banks and financial institutions should pay more for the global financial crisis;
  • 45% of people think small business should pay less for the financial crisis and 50% think workers should pay less to fix the financial crisis.

In his recent address to the Plenary of the 101st International Labour Conference, Fred van Leeuwen, EI General Secretary, said: "In the United States and in several European countries budgetary constraints are the pretext for restricting the rights of unions and their members. Other countries give equally unconvincing explanations for not abiding by international standards. But the underlying factor is ideological, and a contempt for democratic standards."

In a world first, the poll also tested support for basic labour laws across the population in the 13 countries. The poll showed strong support by the general public for laws that protect rights for workers.

  • 70% think current laws do not protect workers’ job security;
  • 89% of people support the right to join a union;
  • 86% of people support the right to collectively bargain.

"These results show the widespread anger against those perceived to have caused the global financial crisis, and resentment at who is having to pay for the mistakes of governments and the international banking and finance industry," Fred van Leeuwen said. "Secure and decent work, safe conditions of work, living wages, quality public services and quality public education, basic social security, inclusion and equality for all - these are the prerequisites for a just recovery”.

The international trade union movement will present the views of working people to world leaders gathering in Los Cabos for the G20 Summit on 18-19 June.

To download the full poll results, please click here.