Unions in favour of Tobin tax

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In June 1999, the Greek General Confederation of Labour (GSEE) and the Confederation of Public Servants (ADEDY) officially adopted a position in favour of applying a "Tobin tax" to short-term capital movements.

The Greek General Confederation of Labour (GSEE) and the Confederation of Public Servants (ADEDY) held a large-scale meeting on 22 June 1999 to discuss national- and international-level initiatives to promote the "Tobin tax". This is a proposed tax on speculative currency transactions (originated by Nobel Prize-winning economist, James Tobin, of Yale University) aimed at discouraging volatile short-term capital flows. GSEE and ADEDY agreed on a demand to introduce a Tobin tax of 0.1% on purchases and sales of foreign exchange both in Greece and in the rest of Europe, and on the following initiatives to promote and further this objective:

  • highlighting the issue as a Europe-wide trade union demand at the European Trade Union Confederation Congress on 29 June-2 July 1999 (EU9907182F). Indeed, the general trade union policy resolution adopted at the Congress states that "one of the most urgent tasks is to work out new rules for dealing with the flows of speculative capital, which vastly outweigh the capital flows associated with trade and investment. The introduction of the Tobin tax on short-term capital flows, or some similar regulation, would be a major contribution";
  • setting up a committee to launch a campaign to inform public opinion on this demand;
  • holding a press conference;
  • organising a seminar in autumn 1999 to be attended by a top-level representative of the international network which has been set up to promote the Tobin tax; and
  • gathering signatures on a petition in support of this objective, to be submitted to the responsible authorities.

In a joint press release, GSEE and ADEDY contend that although the Tobin tax is not a panacea, it could serve as a useful tool for exercising some sort of control over international speculation and for finding valuable resources for development and social policies and alleviating inequalities.

In addition to GSEE and ADEDY union officials, the June meeting was attended by university professors and economists who are studying the Tobin tax issue.

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