Johannesburg - The gap between rich and poor around the globe is
widening and the struggle now is to re-orientate world priorities,
Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi said on Wednesday.
Vavi was addressing an international trade union
federation policy conference organised by the Congress of SA Trade
Unions (Cosatu) in Johannesburg.
Greed and waste defined global capitalism, he said, and the financial crisis and its consequences were a direct result of this.
"World unemployment is now 210 million, which is the highest it has been in history."
This figure did not include the millions living in
desperate poverty, who had given up hope and who were no longer counted
among the unemployed because they no longer looked for work.
A growing global fear was youth unemployment, he said.
To make his point Vavi outlined how much Europe, Japan and the US spent on luxuries.
"The US spends R8bn a year on cosmetics; Europe R11bn on ice-cream; Japan R35bn on entertainment."
Global military spending was in excess of R780bn with "arms deal following arms deal", he said.
Yet only a fraction of global spending went to basic education, water and sanitation, reproductive health and basic health care.
"When you compare figures it is a frightening reminder
of how very screwed up the world is. It is certainly not working in
favour of ordinary people."
The time had come for ordinary people to take control
of their own circumstances so that they too could become beneficiaries
of their country's wealth, said Vavi.