At a time when food and energy prices are surging worldwide, the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) sought to mobilise up to 35,000 people for a rally in Slovenia's capital yesterday to denounce a decline in spending power and demand better pay.
Company profits have risen for more than a decade, but the share of wealth going into wages has shrunk and the divide has widened between those at the top and bottom, ETUC, an umbrella body for unions across the continent, said.
"This is a campaign launched in some anger and with real commitment," ETUC leader John Monks said.
Finance ministers and central bank chiefs of the 27 European Union countries met to discuss a deteriorating economic outlook at what were once the bear-hunting quarters of late Communist dictator Josip Broz Tito, in Brdo, 25km outside Ljubljana.
They sounded the alarm over inflation - which hit a record annual rate of 3.4 per cent in the EU last month - pushed higher in large part by the price of oil and surging costs of food.
European Central Bank Governor Jean-Claude Trichet said that keeping a lid on labour costs would be "absolutely decisive" in fighting inflation and that a 5pc pay rise for German public sector employees this year should not be copied elsewhere.
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