Building Workers' Power
ITUC Newsletter April 2020

Extraordinary Times – Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary

A World in Crisis
Our world is a very different one today. Like workers in many parts of the world, ITUC staff are working from home. We are continuing with our planned work, moving our discussions to virtual meetings and video conferences as well as responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. We stand with you in the fight for the jobs and incomes of workers everywhere.
The global pandemic has put public health and health care, including universal social protection, in the global spotlight. Health and care workers are frontline heroes. We also recognise the dedication and the risks for those workers in essential supply chains, including those manufacturing personal protective equipment (PPE) and those in food, transport, supermarkets and vital services. Our very lives depend on all of them. Unions are fighting for their safety but also for paid sick leave, job and income security and social protection for all workers whose incomes are at risk.
ITUC in Action
The first ITUC Global COVID-19 Survey (17-23 March) of 109 affiliates in 86 countries found:
  • 53% of countries are containing the virus with lockdown measures closing schools and non-essential businesses.
  • 50% of countries are without free health care.
  • More money is being spent on business bailouts (29% of countries) than providing sick leave for all workers (21% of countries).
Every two weeks we will be surveying affiliates on how the pandemic is affecting their country and working people. This will give us up-to-date data about the impact of the crisis on workers.
The ITUC COVID-19 hub on the ITUC website is where all information about the crisis in countries around the world is posted. Each week the ITUC will analyse the detail of the country responses submitted to us and release key findings. The first report looks at which governments are putting people first with the 12 best country responses.
Using this information, we can identify where we collectively need to lobby governments or the international community to do more.
We have influenced global coordination of debt relief, financial support and assistance for poorer countries through multilateral institutions including the IMF and World Bank, G7 and G20. There is more to do here as we see the impact of the virus on all regions. The risks for workers in the informal economy and to those countries with weak public healthcare systems, and the impact of the economic slowdown on workers in global supply chains, will have catastrophic consequences on the lives of working people.
Coming up this month
Workers Day of Mourning on April 28 will focus on COVID-19 and the risk to frontline workers with the absolute demand for occupational health and safety to be recognised as a fundamental ILO standard – Stop the Pandemic at Work!
On 1 May we will demand jobs, income and universal social protection as a floor of the new social contract. This is now a global test – will the world fund social protection for all – a key part of being able to control the global pandemic.
Congratulations on your ongoing efforts to support workers’ safety, their income and their jobs. Viruses know no borders, and neither does solidarity.
Breaking News
The International Labour Conference (ILC) scheduled to begin the week of 25th May will be cancelled due to the restrictions on travel associated with measures to contain COVID-19. The members of the ILO Governing Body, inclusive of the Workers’ Group, will remain in their positions until the ILC in 2021.
Stay safe, stay healthy, and wash your hands!
Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary
Call to Action - G20 Leaders: Act to stabilise the global economy
The economic cost of COVID-19 is affecting millions of people. Workers in global supply chains, who are often in low wage, insecure jobs without rights, are at risk from the spread of the virus if employers don’t act responsibly, if multinationals don’t take responsibility, and if governments don’t provide job and income protections. Country lockdowns to control the spread of the virus will have an economic impact if orders are stopped or postponed. The G20 must involve unions and business to design and implement measures to stabilise the global economy.
Tweet Tweet
Share Share

Highlights from the past month

ITUC Global COVID-19 Survey
The first ITUC Global COVID-19 Survey found only 50% of countries have free health care and more countries are supporting policies to bail out business and provide paid sick leave for all workers.
More information

Putting People First – Government Responses to COVID-19
New ITUC analysis of government responses from 69 countries to the COVID-19 pandemic has identified 12 governments which are putting people first as they seek to stem the economic fall-out from the spread of the virus.
More information

G20 Summit Shows Global Leadership: Now to make it work
The Statement adopted by the G20 countries at their virtual summit on 26 March shows extraordinary leadership in tackling the COVID-19 crisis. We now need to make it work with social dialogue in the real economy involving unions and business to design and implement measures nationally and globally. G20 Labour and finance ministers must work together with social partners to make this happen.
More information


Key Upcoming Dates

PERC Steering Committee
1 April 2020 – Virtual Meeting
ITUC Women’s Committee

1-2 April – Virtual Meeting
Workers Day of Mourning – Stop the Pandemic at Work

28 April
One World - Jobs, Income and Social Protection for All

1 May 2020
Sign up to this newsletter here
Our postal mail address:
Boulevard du Roi Albert II, 5, Bte 1
1210 Brussels