In many countries, democratic rights and freedoms are at risk. Unions play a key role in defending them. The ITUC Global Rights Index details a rise in the number of countries where conflict, authoritarianism and right-wing governments are destroying freedom of association, collective bargaining and the right to strike. Through the solidarity of our affiliates, support for countries at risk is central to our work. Organizing for migrant rights and the elimination of slavery in all its forms is fundamental to ensure democratic rights and freedom for all workers. We know that peace is built on social justice and requires social protection, just wages and safe and secure work with the guarantee of fundamental rights and the rule of law. Peace, democracy and rights is a foundation for realizing the Sustainable Development Goals. Labor activists are both human rights defenders and peace builders and this must be recognized. Rather than investing in social infrastructure to safeguard peace and stability – the arms race and the ideological conflicts are back on.


The world has three times more wealth today that over thirty years ago, yet our taxation systems are not fit for purpose and our public services and social protection systems are in disrepair. The predatory power of global corporations and their impact on the labour market have added to a growing number of workers forced into precarious and informal work. Now platform businesses are adding to that number with a business model evading national laws, taxation systems or employment responsibility. Governments are even entering bidding wars with taxpayers’ money to buy the physical location of corporate giants in their countries or cities. As corporate monopoly power grows, so does the opposition to freedom of association and collective bargaining. Corporate and financial power can only be tamed, and people’s rights assured, by a determined regulatory approach at national and international level. That is why the ITUC has set Regulating Economic Power as a pillar of its work. It is broken down into the following thematic areas: Jobs, Shared Prosperity, Corporate power, Multilateralism.


The lack of ambition on climate change has the world heading towards more than 3.5 degrees above current temperatures. With the IPCC prediction that there is just a decade to stop this trend, then ambition is critical. Just Transition is the pathway to high ambition. Unions must be at the table at all levels to negotiate the Just Transition measures required to ensure trust in the necessary shifts in energy, and in technological advances to ensure both mitigation and adaptation across all industries and sectors. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) provide an opportunity to advance goals that are critical to the labor movement. Technology can provide opportunity, but it will also disrupt jobs and current supply chains. Digitalization, automation and data all need to be managed to protect jobs and living standards. Full employment remains a goal of the union movement and no compromise will be accepted on the Universal Labor Guarantee. Just Transition measures are vital to realize these shifts.


Equality and equity at work is a core trade union value. Discrimination based on not only gender but also on class, race, ethnicity, age, gender identity, disability, indigenous status, migration status and the intersection of these characteristics, still pervade the world of work, as does gender-based violence and harassment. Progress for women has stalled and discrimination, harassment and violence are on the rise again. Trade unions are working towards the full realization of women’s rights and protections. Through collective empowerment and women’s equal representation in union leadership, through new regulation and the enforcement of existing regulations and through continued accountability, we can end discrimination and abuse.