Building Workers' Power

ITUC Newsletter - May 2021

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Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary


We will be taking the call from working people for a new social contract to a global stage this month:

3-19 June, International Labour Conference (ILC), International Labour Organization (ILO)

This year’s ILC comes at a critical time for the global economy. The recurrent item for discussion is social protectionIt will be an opportunity to review governments’ delivery of the right to social protection, a key part of the new social contract. It will take stock of the commitment to ensure social protection for all working people as stated in the ILO Centenary Declaration.

The financing of social protection will be a major point of debate. Participants will be asked how they will ensure stable financing, adequate resources and equity in payment of social security contributions and taxes. Finally, the discussion will look at how the international community can provide support for low-income countries to build their social protection systems, including the potential for a global social protection fund.

We expect a major report later this month to back our call for a global social protection fund. The United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, Olivier De Schutter, will make his report to the UN Human Rights Council. We are clear that social protection is a right and is essential for human security and social justice.

At the ILC, the Committee on the Application of Standards will consider critical cases of rights violations. Due to the virtual nature of the conference, the two further technical committees on inequality and on lifelong learning will be scheduled for later in the year.

Covid-19 response

The ILC will also discuss the ILO’s Covid-19 response; this discussion will result in a statement that reinforces the need to implement the ILO Centenary Declaration as a guide for recovery and resilience. This is important to ensure a new social contact.

The new social contract, including implementing the ILO Centenary Declaration, means supporting and protecting workers, and it will also help bring the pandemic under control. The ITUC will be continuing to push for universal access to vaccines, tests and other public health tools. This includes through waivers on intellectual property rights and a massive scaling up of production of vaccines, tests and treatments in developing countries in particular. Central to this is our campaigning for occupational health and safety to be an ILO fundamental right and for Covid-19 to be classified as an occupational disease.

The ITUC General Council will be held on 26-27 May.
The report on its decisions will be available in June.


The ITUC Global Rights Index 2021 will be released on 30 June, rating 149 countries on violations of workers' rights in law and practice. The 2021 Index will feature a new interactive digital platform, making the findings more accessible and increasing our impact as we fight to defend the rights of working people everywhere.

17 May, International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia.
Please take some time out this month to mark 17 May. The trade union movement is at its best when we celebrate our diversity, and we are stronger when we show our tolerance.

In solidarity,

Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary

Call to Action

New Social Contract: ITUC report makes economic case for social protection

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A new report for the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) shows that there is a strong economic, as well as moral and public health, case for governments to introduce universal social protection.


ITUC May Day statement: Job creation and the new social contract

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On the 1 May, workers across the world will be celebrating the achievements of nearly 200 years of trade union activity and putting forward their demands for decent work and sustainable development.

Colombia: Duque government must end violence against protestors

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The ITUC is expressing its support for the people of Colombia as they face a brutal crackdown by the government of President Iván Duque.

Governments’ failure to live up to Paris Agreement promises puts planet stability at risk

An analysis by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) has found that most new climate plans submitted by governments under the Paris Agreement on Climate Change lack sufficient ambition, Just Transition plans and social dialogue.

Key Upcoming dates

International day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia
17 May 

ITUC General Council
26 – 27 May

Olivier De Schutter report on Global Social Protection Fund expected

International Labour Conference, ILO, Geneva
3 – 19 June

ITUC Global Rights Index 2021
30 June


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