Building Workers' Power

ITUC Newsletter - December 2021

Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary

2021, the second year of the global pandemic, has tested the resilience of workers and their communities, with 130 million jobs lost this year and some two billion informal workers facing a daily struggle to survive. As we fight for jobs plans and a New Social Contract that will respond to the social, economic and health consequences of the pandemic, organising to build workers’ power is even more critical. 

Coming up this month:

10 December: Human Rights Day

On Human Rights Day, the union movement’s global spotlight will fall on the Philippines, Bangladesh and China, where there are systematic campaigns against labour and human rights defenders.

In the Philippines, President Duterte has overseen a brutal reign of terror, with countless people killed and detained, including many trade unionists, since beginning his “war on drugs” in 2016.

There must be an immediate end to violence and the beginning of a process to investigate the crimes committed.

Show your support for activists in the Philippines – click here to go to our campaign page and see how you can take action.

In Bangladesh, the government is using excuses and delay tactics to deny working people their rights. Every year, 35,000 Bangladeshis die at work, and this will not stop until the government implements the road map agreed with the ILO to put in place a floor of rights for all workers in Bangladesh.

Support working people who want #ABetterBangladesh – sign up to the campaign here and watch and share the campaign video here.

In China, the ruling party is using increasingly repressive policies, including repression and imprisonment of trade union leaders in Hong Kong. Ahead of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, the ITUC is demanding that the International Olympic Committee guarantee the safety of athletes and all others attending the Games and that the ruling party in China end its policies of repression and allow fundamental rights and freedoms under international rules. Sign the petition to the president of the International Olympic Committee here.

9-10 December: Summit for Democracy

The US government is organising a democracy summit – the Summit for Democracy – which will lead to a year-long set of actions. The ITUC, the AFL-CIO and the Solidarity Center have worked to make sure that freedom of association and workers’ rights are at the centre of the conversation around democracy. 

18 December: International Migrants Day

The exclusion of migrant workers from labour laws and their exploitation by labour brokers are a global scandal. Reform in Qatar – with the end of the kafala system; elected workplace committees; and ongoing dialogue with the ILO, global unions and the government of Qatar – shows how laws can be changed. In contrast, the UAE continues to use modern-day slavery while hosting international events – from the Dubai Expo to the FIFA men’s football World Cup.

For more events in December, check the ITUC events page, where you can find details about events and webinars, including the next two webinars in the Common Security 2022 webinar series and an official trade union side event (7 December) prior to the Summit for Democracy on 9-10 December.

Looking ahead to 2022:

The ITUC General Council concluded on 2 December and adopted a programme focused on securing progress to lay the foundations for the next ITUC World Congress in 2022, framed by our demand for a New Social Contract. The full details are in the Frontline Campaigns and Four Pillars for Action document here.

At the General Council, I announced that this year’s Dorje Khatri Award for climate justice has gone to COSATU, FEDUSA, SAFTU and NUMSA in South Africa for participating in the Presidential Climate Commission, where just transition was agreed to be the foundation of a social pact. This led to an international recognition and agreement at COP26 with the Just Energy Transition Partnership and the declaration to support the conditions for just transition.

Our aspirations for a just world with an economic model where rights and shared prosperity are realised are winnable. COVID-19 has shown working people the critical need for reform of the economic model, with a New Social Contract and global solidarity for health and sustainable development.

Finally, seasons greetings, and a happy new year to everyone. During this time of giving, please consider donating to the strike fund for workers in Myanmar. Just €10 will support a worker for one week as they continue the fight and #Strike4Democracy.

As many countries have national holidays over the next few weeks, I hope that you have a chance to rest and reflect and will come back refreshed and ready for the challenges of 2022.

In solidarity,

Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary


Call to Action

Click to Tweet

China: A gold medal for repression

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New ITUC research shows the actions of the Chinese Communist Party have made Beijing unsafe for athletes and others involved in the 2022 Winter Olympics, 4 – 20 February 2022.

#PalestineDay: ITUC calls on UN to update list of companies backing illegal settlements

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To mark the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, 29 November, the ITUC has written to UN Secretary-General António Guterres, calling on him to support the resolution to regularly update the UN database of companies operating illegally in Israeli settlements on Palestinian land.

Amazon: Workers shine bright on Black Friday to #MakeAmazonPay

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Working people across the world are leading a coalition taking action today to build pressure on Amazon to improve its treatment of its employees, the environment and the tax system.

Key Upcoming dates

The Summit for Democracy, USA

9 – 10 December

Human Rights Day
10 December

International Migrants Day
18 December


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