Trade union rights include the right to join or create a unions and to collective bargaining. The ability of workers to organize allows them to use their collective power to achieve improved labor rights, health and safety standards at the workplace, and protections against discrimination and forced labor, including child labor.
Despite ample clarity on international standards, certain categories of workers (for example public servants, seafarers, workers in export processing zones) are still denied the right to form unions, while workers’ organizations are illegally suspended or interfered with, and in extreme cases, trade unionists are arrested or killed for their activities. In 2017, 50 out of 139 countries denied or constrained free speech and freedom of assembly, while number of countries in which workers were exposed to physical violence and threats increased from 52 to 59 countries. Trade unionists were murdered in 11 countries, including Bangladesh, Brazil, Colombia, Guatemala, Honduras, Italy, Mauritania, Mexico, Peru, the Philippines, and Venezuela.
To ensure respect for the rights of workers, companies should make commitments to recognize their rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining, and clearly communicate this to all employees and business relationships. Company management should also meet regularly with worker representatives to discuss work-related problems and any concerns/complaints employees may have.
- Guidelines for the Evaluation of Workers’ Human Rights and Labour Standards, Committee on Workers' Capital, 2017.
- Committee on Workers' Capital
- Survey of Violations of Trade Union Rights, International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC).
- The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and the human rights of workers to form or join trade unions and to bargain collectively, ITUC, IndustriALL, UNI Global Unions and Clean Clothes Campaign.