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G20 Labor Ministers Meeting May Address Some Supply Chain’s Societal Failures

The dominant global trade model of supply chains may be one of "labor arbitrage"
By Patrick Burnson
May 15, 2017

The annual global poll commissioned by the 181 million-member International Trade Union Confederation shows that globalization may be failing people.

The poll indicates that 73 percent of people are worried about losing their jobs and 80 percent say the minimum wage is not enough to live on. Half the population in thirteen of the G20 countries rate the economic situation in their country as bad.

“Too many governments have compromised people’s prosperity in the face of corporate greed with low wages and insecure work. The rules of the global economy have been distorted to put the interests of the richest 1% and corporations ahead of working people, and this power imbalance is driving mistrust in governments,” says Sharan Burrow, General Secretary, International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC).

The poll commissioned by the ITUC from global market research company Kantar Public covers a total of 16 countries representing 53% of the global population.

Released at the Labor 20 Dialogue in Berlin, ahead of the G20 Labor Ministers meeting, Sharan Burrow said the poll showed how globalization and interconnectedness, coupled with exponential technological progress and innovation, have created incredible wealth but left too many working people marginalized and fearful of an insecure future.

The results of the poll conducted in March in Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Denmark, France, Germany, Guatemala, India, Japan, Russia, South Arica, South Korea, the United Kingdom and the United States is a warning that governments have all but abandoned responsibility for investment in jobs and tackling inequality and climate devastation, resulting in massive insecurity.

·    Three in four (74 percent) are worried about rising inequality between the richest 1% and the rest of the population.
·    73 percent of people worry about losing their jobs.

·    66 percent worry about climate change.

More than seven out of ten people (71%) believe that working people do not have enough influence on how the rules of the global economy are set. 80 percent of people say the economic system favours the wealthy rather than being fair to most.

The poll shows deep levels of uncertainty about family income and job security.

·    80 percent don’t think the minimum wage in their country is high enough for a decent life.
·    80 percent of people have falling or stagnating incomes.
·    One in two (49 percent) don’t have enough money for basic essential or are barely getting by.
·    Almost four in ten (38 percent) have directly experienced unemployment or reduced working hours in the last two years.


“The opportunities to grow sustainable economies, together with social protection, secure jobs and decent living wages exists, but urgent co-ordinated action is required by the G20.

The dominant global trade model of supply chains may be one of labor arbitrage.

When 85 percent of people say it’s time to rewrite the rules of the global economy to promote growth and share property, G20 leaders should have the confidence to take action knowing that they have the support of voters,” says Burrow.

Finally, Gemma Swart at ITUC summed it up this way for SCMR:

“The research shows a democratic deficit with governments and working people not having enough influence over economic decision, and that people want companies to follow the rules/governments to make sure companies follow the rules and pay their fair share of taxes. It’s not democracy vs rule of law - or one being valued more than the other.”


About the Author

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Patrick Burnson
Patrick Burnson is executive editor for Logistics Management and Supply Chain Management Review magazines and web sites. Patrick is a widely-published writer and editor who has spent most of his career covering international trade, global logistics, and supply chain management. He lives and works in San Francisco, providing readers with a Pacific Rim perspective on industry trends and forecasts. You can reach him directly at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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