Blog Action Day: A tale of two crises
Today is Blog Action Day, when thousands of bloggers around the world will be blogging against global poverty. It may seem odd to focus on poverty in developing countries as the storm of the financial crisis whips through the stock markets of the rich and powerful. But the two crises are linked.
In both cases, the crises are about unsustainable debt, for example. Debt is what is dragging down bank after bank, and has precipitated the plunging stock markets. And debt has also been holding down the people of the global south, who have been paying more to repay debt than to finance their education and health systems – despite all the progress made in the decade since the 1998 G8 summit in Birmingham to write off debts.
And both crises are, fundamentally, about how markets don’t work, and about the impact on ordinary people of economic events over which they have no control.
Today, in the global south, eighteen hundred children will become infected with HIV. Fourteen hundred mothers will die during childbirth. 86 million young adults will go without work.
The Make Poverty History campaign in 2005, when the G8 was in Gleneagles, argued that these terrible statistics could be addressed if our governments showed sufficient political will, and if we as citizens made it important enough for them to do so. The TUC was a key coalition partner in Make Poverty History, and the International Trade Union Confederation continues to be a key part of the Global Call to Action Against Poverty.
Our interest is not just the usual humanitarian impulse that everyone feels when confronted with such ghastly statistics. For trade unions, addressing poverty in the south is the same struggle as addressing the challenges we face at home.
Decent work is a key part of the solution to poverty in the south, and it is a key demand for workers in the north. Decent work means more and better jobs, underpinned by a safety net of public services and benefits, with a say in how economic decisions are made at work and by government, and with rights for workers such as the right to join a union.
Above all, the message of trade unionism is that if we get together – if we act collectively – we can change things for the better. We can solve the credit crunch and we can solve global poverty.
Today over 9,000 bloggers worldwide will be blogging about global poverty as part of the 50 Days of Action against poverty which began at the end of August and will end on 17 October with a mass global action against poverty on the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty.