A survey of 14,000 "global citizens" by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) found that two thirds agreed that unionised workplaces are better for workers.

Of those surveyed for the ITUC Global Poll 2014, an average of 63 per cent agreed that workplaces that have a union provide better wages, conditions and health and safety for workers. In the UK the figure was 67 per cent; the highest was Japan with 84 per cent. Three in four agreed that it was important for unions to play an active role in society. In the UK the figure was 68 per cent.

There was no country in the world where it was thought that the minimum wage was high enough to enable workers to live a decent life. Overall, 79 per cent of respondents thought the minimum wage in their country was too low. In the UK, the figure was 73 per cent. The lowest was Australia where 57 per cent thought it was too low; and the highest was in Russia where 98 per cent agreed the minimum wage was too low to sustain a decent life.

There was also overwhelming support from the respondents for labour rights in general:

  • 75 per cent supported laws that protect the right to strike
  • 97 per cent supported laws that protect workers’ health and safety
  • 94 per cent supported laws that establish and protect a decent minimum wage for workers
  • 89 per cent supported laws that gave workers the right to collectively bargain
  • 88 per cent supported laws that gave workers the right to join a union

The poll also showed distrust in governments and the economic system in general, with four out of five people believing that the economic system favours the wealthy, rather than being fair to most.

The global poll is the third conducted by the ITUC, in which approximately 1000 respondents were interviewed in each of 14 different countries, yielding a grand total of 14,006. The findings represent the opinions of more than 3.7 billion people - about 53 per cent of the world’s population according to UN estimates.

Jo Seery at Thompsons Solicitors said: "In a climate where workers all around the world are faced with wages falling behind the cost of living, the report shows that ultimately the key to better living and working conditions is having an active trade union."

To access the study, go to: http://www.ituc-csi.org/IMG/pdf/ituc_global_poll_2014_en_web.pdf