Today millions of workers worldwide are denied jobs, confined to certain occupations or offered lower pay on account of their sex, religion, colour, nationality, ethnic origin, sexual orientation, political opinions, social origin, age or disability. Discrimination at work is widespread, persistent, and becomes more insidious over time, taking on new forms such as bias against people living with HIV/AIDS. A more equal distribution of job opportunities, productive resources and assets, including education, is urgently needed.

Achieving equality at work is a key objective of the trade union movement. The ITUC and its affiliated organisations work to oppose discrimination, to promote equal opportunity and to encourage diversity at the work place. Ensuring the adoption and enforcement of effective legislation is indispensable but not enough. Social dialogue and collective bargaining are key instruments for eliminating discriminatory practices. Trade unions’ campaign and mobilisation activities provide the necessary support required to challenge entrenched stereotypes and prejudices and to elicit public policy responses. By reaching out to people experiencing discrimination, trade unions are not only providing them with a stronger platform from which they can claim their rights; unions are, by the same token, increasing their capacity to organise all groups in our diverse societies.


Carmen Smenjaud
Equality Department
[email protected]
Telephone: +32 (0)2 224 0328