ITUC 5th World Congress opens in Melbourne, Australia

More than 1,000 trade unionists representing around 200 million working people in over 130 countries have gathered in Australia for the global workers’ parliament.

The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) World Congress brings together over 300 national trade unions every four years to set the global agenda for trade unions.

For this Congress, debate is due to centre on the themes that underpin the new social contract: climate-friendly jobs, workers’ rights, just wages, social protection, equality and inclusion.

The event was opened by Joy Murphy Wandin, a Senior Wurundjeri elder of the Kulin Nation, with a strong focus on Australia’s first nations heritage. A formal “welcome to country” was followed by performances from the Djirri Djirri Dancers, Keirnan Ironfield, Shellie Morris and Daniel Wilfred.

Delegates were welcomed by Pat Dodson, a Labor Senator for Western Australia and Yawuru elder, who has dedicated his life to fighting for the rights of First Nations: "These have been difficult years, with human catastrophes that continue today. It is heartening to see you all here, from all over the world; defenders of labour rights and human rights.

“The First Nations have struggled here for 250 years for recognition, justice and peace in this country. We’ve much common ground with the aspirations of the union movement. There’s strength in solidarity; much can be achieved when we come together. This is particularly important in a world with record levels of inequality, exploitation and destruction," he said.

“The fight of our lives”

Other speakers included ITUC President Ayuba Wabba (NLC Nigeria), Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) President Michele O’Neil, and ACTU Secretary Sally McManus who said: “We are in the fight our lives here to finally win new rights for working people after years of anti-union governments, and we’re lifted by the energy in this room of the international trade union movement."

Based on the draft statement, the Congress will debate the future policies of the ITUC with a focus on lessons from global shocks, technology and its impacts on work, an inclusive union movement and climate and just transition.

The ITUC World Congress ends on 22 November and can be watched live here and followed via #ITUC22 on social media.