Reform or Bust: No WTO without workers’ rights for fair competition

Under its new leadership the World Trade Organization (WTO) is scheduled to hold its 12th Ministerial Conference in 2021. This in a historic opportunity to reform the WTO’s governance of trade in the interests of working people.

Multilateralism is in crisis and we have a model of trade that has facilitated inequality and has constrained development with rules that prevent industry policy and encourage privatisation.

A just system of trade must facilitate an inclusive development model that ensures decent work and shared prosperity.

We must eliminate the dehumanising exploitation of global supply chains that underpin global trade without human and labour rights. It is time to put rights on the WTO reform agenda. A floor of rights – ILO fundamental rights – with strong compliance mechanisms that involve the views of the ILO is a central demand for trade, justice and development.

The WTO and its government members have a critical role to play in global economic governance, but it cannot be more of the same where cheap exploitative labour fuels global profits and billions of people are excluded from trade’s benefits that accrue to a tiny elite.

This is the moment, with new leadership of the WTO, to lay a pathway to serious reform promoting sustainable development, rights, decent work and social justice.

Read the ITUC position brief ‘The WTO’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the 2021 WTO reform agenda’ for the ITUC proposals for WTO pandemic response and reform.

ITUC position brief: The WTO’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the 2021 WTO reform agenda