Global unions back the Robin Hood Tax: a popular coalition is formed
In the UK we call it the Robin Hood Tax. In Germany, it’s the Tax Against Poverty. And in the US it’s the financial speculation tax. But in all those countries – and many more – popular campaigns are building support for a financial transactions tax to raise money for public services, combating poverty and tackling climate change. Existing groups like Americans for Financial Reform and Europeans for Financial Reform (the latter set up by the ETUC and the Party of European Socialists) are also backing these campaigns.
Unions are involved in those campaigns, and later today the DGB President Michael Sommer and TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber will be writing to Chancellor Merkel and Gordon Brown urging support for a Europe-wide transactions tax. In the USA, the AFL-CIO – a leading part of Americans for Financial Reform – have been lobbying Obama insiders and congressional leaders to support the tax domestically or globally. At international level, the ITUC has asked its members to get their governments lobbying the IMF to treat the proposal seriously when they report to G20 Finance Ministers in April, and the Trade Union Advisory Committee to the OECD will be releasing a major piece of work on the issue in March at their Economic Policy Committee.
Global union federations like UNI – which represents staff in the private sector, including, crucially, the banks themselves – have also signed up to the campaign. In the UK, Unite (with members in big banks and insurance companies) and the Nationwide Group Staff Union were early supporters of the Robin Hood Tax campaign.
But across the world, unions are making alliances – with green groups and development charities, with bishops and bankers, with health, education and domestic poverty groups. In the UK, the RSPB and the YWCA are two early members of the campaign – which looks like it will be the broadest ever mobilisation of civil society – bigger than Make Poverty History in 2005 and bigger even than the 160-member Put People First platform which was the first popular response to the global crisis.
Put People First, although it produced a number of well-argued policies designed to avoid a return to business as usual, was the protest – a demo and rally in Hyde Park ahead of the G20 London leaders’ summit. The Robin Hood Tax is the solution.