Even in the four years before the recession, the real wages of workers were stagnating (and, in the case of the bottom third, they were declining). Meanwhile the huge amount of wealth being created went one way – up – as CEOs made unparallelled profits. In 1997 CEOs earned over 40 times as much as the average worker: it is now over 80 times as much. Furthermore, we are increasingly seeing a move towards a hire-and-fire workforce in which workers have few rights.
We need strong trade unions to make sure that workers get their fair share in the workplace – indeed, countries that have stronger unions (like Scandinavia) have high living standards and fairer distributions of wealth. They would make the boardroom accountable. Furthermore, they would ensure workers have rights in the workplace – and unions to fight their corner.