Unions launch global inquiry into attacks on workers’ rights

The ITUC is holding the world’s first global inquiry for workers as wages, pensions, social security rights to union representation and collective bargaining come under new attack.

New evidence in the ILO’s “World at Work Report 2012” shows how workers’ rights have been eroded by governments between 2008 and 2012 under the guise of the economic crisis.

- 60% of workplace reforms by governments have taken away workers’ rights
- 15 out of 25 countries have relaxed collective dismissal rights for economic reasons
- 65% of workplace reforms have taken away the rights from temporary workers

“Governments are failing working people by clinging to failed economic policies. The political contract between people and elected politicians has broken down.

“In a wide range of countries, finance and big business is increasingly dictating policies to governments as they weather the global economic crisis,” said Sharan Burrow, General Secretary, ITUC.

The ITUC inquiry will hear first-hand testimony from workers in Bulgaria, Greece, Indonesia, Mexico, Portugal and Romania .

“We are mobilising to defend basic rights in countries where the new frontlines in the attack on workers’ rights are opening up. Politicians must raise their ambitions and respond to the needs of working people,” said Sharan Burrow.

Taking part in the ITUC global inquiry is an eminent international panel including Jay Naidoo, founder of COSATU; Poul Rasmussen, former President of European Socialists; and Maria Helena Andre, former Labour Minister of Portugal.

The ITUC has outlined five global threats to the conditions and rights of working people:

- an unregulated financial system and bond markets and rating agencies that have the power to dominate governments and impose spending cuts; a rush to austerity by European governments;
- the promotion of anti-worker ideology in particular through the American Chamber of Commerce;
- a legacy of the World Bank’s ‘Doing Business’ project and the OECD’s ‘Going for Growth’ report; and
- IMF and European Commission conditionality which diminishes rights.

For more information, please contact the ITUC Press Department on: +32 2 224 0204 or +32 476 62 10 18

Photo: Steffe