Trade union message heard loud and clear over Davos

In a combative but crystal clear interview with Richard Quest on Quest Means Business, CNN, UNI Global Union’s General Secretary, Philip Jennings spelt out how unfair wealth distribution, inequality and precarious jobs were contributing to the fractured world.

Jennings underlined the vital roles of unions and the good news that the United States signed up a quarter of a million new union members in Trump’s first year.

The UNI GS challenged U.S. CEOs to pass on their windfall tax breaks delivered by Trump to the American worker.

Jennings said the fractured world was on an unsustainable path but cited BlackRock CEO Larry Fink’s letter calling on the companies he has invested his trillions of dollars in, to stand up for human rights and the planet.

The interview concluded with a reference to the UNI World Congress in Liverpool in June and the proposed CNN debate in partnership with UNI on modern slavery, planned for eve of the Congress.

Read the whole interview below. (the video interview will be added here when available)

CNN interview in full :

Richard Quest = RQ

Philip Jennings= PJ

PJ: The tax cuts are going to the top 1%. Mr Trump is waging a war on the people of America – he’s slashing their benefits, their rights, and their ability to negotiate. The American worker will be worse off as a result of his budget.

RQ: Many of those workers voted for him and still support his America First project.

PJ: I don’t think they support him in the numbers they did a year ago.

RQ: You can’t prove that…

PJ: This is not fake news from me. The reality on the ground is that people are angry and upset about the economic policies of this President. And under the radar, what we are seeing is an all out assault on working people, their benefits, their rights, their wages and their ability to organise.

The good news in all of this is that the American union movement has grown by 250,000 members in the last year. Workers are not going to take it, they are standing up in communities everywhere.

RQ: That’s take a look at Europe and other parts of the world, this fractured world that Klaus Schwab talked about.

PJ: The fractures are very clear – when you look at the global labour market three billion people – half of them in vulnerable world, one in three surviving on under two dollars a day.

The other problem we see is a problem of the distribution of wealth and the distribution of income. The 1% are winning big time practically everywhere.

Richard, I want to ask you a question: the workers of the world need a pay rise, so when you get these American CEOs up here, the ones who have had this windfall of a tax break, ask them is that going to make a difference to workers’ wages? Will workers get a wage rise?

RQ: Walmart would say yes. Walmart would say, you may not think its enough, but Walmart would say we gave bonuses and we increased the minimum wage, you might not say it’s enough but it’s a step in the right direction.

PJ: It’s a wake-up call that people in America realise it’s a rigged system against them.

Let’s talk about Walmart in America, why don’t they sit down with the trade union movement and negotiate a proper contract, a proper negotiated agreement like they do in many other countries? We’ve managed to build unions in Walmart (in these other countries) they have negotiated collective agreements but not in the United States of America

RQ: Why do you still come here to Davos?

PJ: Because I’ve got something to say, it’s a forum and I want to get this message across about what the trade union movement is doing, what civil society is doing and talk about the crisis that we have in terms of human rights and the fact that this global economy is working for the few but not the many.

RQ: How fractured is the world (referring to ‘fracture wall- chart)

PJ: It’s extremely fractured – I would underline the issues of jobs and inequality and the challenge of the digital revolution.

However there is one sign of hope with Larry Fink, at Blackrock, sitting on $6.3 trillion dollars of assets, sending a letter to all the companies he invests in saying, “where is your social purpose? Are you respecting human rights and the environment. So perhaps a slight change is taking place in people’s opinions because this world is not sustainable as it is!

RQ: Thank you Philip, we are looking forward to doing more projects with you later in the year.

PJ: Liverpool!

RQ: Liverpool, where I grew up.

PJ: We’re Making it Happen in Liverpool!