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ITUC Global Rights Index: Democratic values, workers’ rights under attack


ITUC Global Rights Index: Democratic values, workers’ rights under attack

The ITUC’s Global Rights Index, released this week, is an urgent wake-up call that democratic values and fundamental rights are collapsing at an international level.

The report ranks 151 countries against a list of 97 indicators of respect for workers’ rights derived from ILO Conventions and jurisprudence. This year’s edition shows that governments and companies are ramping up efforts to trample the basic rights that underpin the very nature of democracy, such as the right to organize a trade union and collectively bargain.

ITUC General Secretary Luc Triangle said: “For 11 years now the Index has tracked a rapid decline in workers’ rights in every region of the world. Workers are the beating heart of democracy, and their right to be heard is crucial to the health and sustainability of democratic systems. When their rights are violated, democracy itself is attacked. Democracy, trade unions and workers’ rights go together; you simply cannot have one without the other.”

Some key findings include:

  • The right to free speech and assembly was restricted in 43 per cent of countries;
  • 74 per cent of countries impeded the registration of trade unions;
  • Workers were detained or arrested in 74 countries;
  • The right to strike was violated in 87 per cent of countries;
  • Workers were denied the right to establish or join a trade union in 75 per cent of countries.

Christy Hoffman, General Secretary of UNI Global Union, said:

This new Global Rights Index shows we are not making progress when it comes to respect for workers’ rights, but rather the reverse is true. These rights are increasingly degraded and even abandoned altogether. Too many countries pay lip service to the right to organize but do nothing more to protect it. The problems workers face range from union busting, which has become normalized, to violence and even murder of trade unionists. It’s a global disgrace, and it shows that voluntary corporate social responsibility programmes and good intentions don’t add up. We need global rules.  

Read the full Global Rights Index.