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Trade Union Rights November 2020

This is a quick survey of some of the major trade union issues in the world today, collated from ITUC and the ILO News.

Stories taken from: https://  and


Community changemakers help Pakistan’s migrant workers avoid exploitation

An ILO project in Pakistan is raising awareness among prospective migrant workers about safe labour migration

It is reported that Labour migration from Pakistan has steadily increased in recent decades and continues to provide an important opportunity for improving family and community livelihoods.* 

However a lack of good information about safe migration, fair recruitment channels and related services is a key challenge for those interested in becoming migrant workers. Without accurate information they can be vulnerable to deception and even abuse during recruitment – a risk that can increase if they use informal or unlicensed intermediaries.

It is further reported that to address this crucial information gap, the REFRAME project partnered with a local social enterprise organization, Mera Maan, to train 27 women and men as community-based changemakers. These changemakers host information sessions in ‘high-migration’ districts.

The training covers key topics such as the risks of irregular migration, the channels and processes for regular migration, the rights and responsibilities of migrant workers, and the support services available, including complaints and legal mechanisms.

Changemakers ensure that sessions are delivered in regional languages, are tailored to local circumstances and are embedded in local community structures – for example by including local counsellors, religious scholars, social workers, teachers, the local judiciary and community-based organizations.

So far the changemakers have delivered awareness sessions to more than 9,800 prospective and returned migrant workers and their families. The information has also spread through the community, via word of mouth, messaging apps and social media, reaching, it is estimated, more than 89,000 people. Network members have also received requests to host sessions in other communities.



How decent work supports Jordan’s most vulnerable communities

A programme implemented by the ILO and supported by Germany through the German Development Cooperation (KfW Development Bank), helps some of the country’s most vulnerable groups, including Jordanian nationals and Syrian refugees.



The road to employment and livelihoods in Timor-Leste

Lack of access to schools, marketplaces and hospitals is a challenge for communities in Timor-Leste, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. An ILO initiative to rehabilitate rural roads is helping break their isolation, provide jobs and improve livelihoods.

The road rehabilitation is supported by ILO as part of the government of Timor Leste’s Roads for Development (R4D)  programme, funded by the Government of Australia .

Providing access to markets and services, the roads are a lifeline to remote communities. By using a ‘labour-based’ approach, the programme brings employment opportunities to communities in rural areas, including people with disabilities, women and youth.

Mendonça remembers how her family had to walk for more than two hours to carry their farm produce to market, where they would sell it for some US$20.

“Now it only takes us 30 minutes by public transport to sell our produce in the market. We can also bring as much produce as possible, up to one hundred dollar’s worth,” she says.

Latin America and the Caribbean

Slow COVID-19 labour market recovery expected in Latin America and the Caribbean

The pandemic has led to the biggest contraction in the region in the last 100 years, with 47 million jobs lost across the region in the second quarter of 2020.

It has been reported that the post-COVID-19  labour market recovery in Latin America and the Caribbean will be slow, according to the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) in a new joint report.

The report, Employment situation in Latin America and the Caribbean. Employment trends in an unprecedented crisis: Policy challenges  says that the COVID-19 pandemic has led to the biggest contraction in the last 100 years, with major economic, labour, social and production-related costs.

The greatest effects were felt in the second quarter of the year, when it is estimated that approximately 47 million jobs were lost across the region. Many of those who lost their jobs were unable to find opportunities to swiftly re-enter the workforce or they withdrew from the labour market because restrictions on mobility prevented them from seeking employment.


A Green Future

From the ILO BLog

A better future of work means building it green.

The spread of the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted, in the most dramatic and tragic way, the fragility of the foundations on which our world is built – both natural and human-made.

It has underlined the devastating impact of the global rise in diseases that are transmitted from animals to humans – diseases that are linked to environmental degradation and unsustainable agricultural practices that have driven an average decline in global wildlife populations of two-thirds since 1970 due to land use change.

Meanwhile, the collapse of economies, with the resulting loss of hundreds of millions of jobs and livelihoods, has revealed the inherent flaws in the economic structure of our societies.

At the height of lockdowns across the globe we witnessed a startling vision of clean, pollution-free skies caused by the temporary fall in greenhouse gas emissions as cars stayed off the streets and entire cities, factories and businesses shut down. Yet this dramatic reduction was only equivalent to what will be needed every year to meet Paris Climate Agreement targets.

Together, all these factors send a critical message – we must mend our broken relationship with nature. The equation is simple: without a healthy planet there can be no healthy economies.


From ITUC:

Haiti: End the Silence over Erosion of Democracy

The international community is ignoring one of the worst humanitarian and social crises in the history of Haiti, made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In recent years, the Caribbean nation has seen a complete disintegration of public services, the breakdown of the rule of law and widespread human rights abuses.

The current administration of Jovenel Moïse has brought about levels of endemic corruption not seen since the end of the Duvalier autocratic regime in 1986. Last year, Haiti’s Court of Auditors documented the embezzlement of 1.459 billion Euros from an oil agreement with Venezuela, originally intended for development and infrastructure projects. Haitian businesspeople, the political class and the president himself are involved.

As law enforcement is corroded and criminal gangs take control, horrifying massacres have become increasingly common in the country. In 2018, 71 people were killed in the massacre of La Saline, a poor neighbourhood in the capital Port-au-Prince. Independent investigations have pointed out the connection of the government to the bloodbath, but most of the perpetrators have never been charged. Three similar atrocities have occurred since then, including an episode in early September when 12 people were brutally murdered.

Trade unionists are faced with systemic repression, with a wave of dismissals, arbitrary arrests and death threats targeting the few sectors where workers have been able to organise unions such as in education, the public sector and in Export Processing Zones. Attacks on unions by government ministers are common, with the Education Minister transferring leaders of the Education Union, against whom arrest warrants have been issued. The Public Works Minister, seeking to rush through privatisation in the electricity sector, has ordered arrest warrants against electricity union leaders.


Global unions welcome next step in binding treaty process to end corporate impunity

The global unions have welcomed the next step in the process of agreeing a binding United Nations (UN) treaty on business and human rights, despite difficult negotiations at the UN in Geneva.

The intergovernmental working group on transnational corporations and other business enterprises with respect to human rights held its sixth session, 26 – 30 October 2020, and adopted a final report that will form the basis of actual negotiations in 2021.

This was despite the International Organisation of Employers (IOE) and the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) obstructing the process, the US rejecting the process and the EU delegation not having a negotiating mandate.

At the talks in Geneva, the global unions called for the negotiations to be based on:

  •  all internationally recognised human rights, including fundamental workers’ and trade union rights, as defined by relevant international labour standards;
  •  coverage of all business enterprises regardless of size, sector, operational context, ownership and structure and parent company-based extraterritorial regulation;
  •  access to justice for victims of transnational corporate human rights violations in the home state of transnational corporations;
  •  regulatory measures that require businesses to adopt and apply human rights due diligence policies and procedures; and
  •  a strong international monitoring and enforcement mechanism.

The joint trade union statement on the second revised draft of the proposed Binding Treaty can be found here, and the critical need for the treaty is explained here by the legal directors of the ITUC and the ITF.

Unions welcomed the strengthening of the gender dimension throughout the text and the inclusion of a provision that explicitly required states to ensure that any existing or new trade and investment agreements were compatible with the human rights obligations under the Binding Treaty.

However, the union delegation called for:

  •  the explicit recognition in the treaty of trade unionists as human rights defenders and for trade unions to be expressly acknowledged as an integral part of human rights due diligence (HRDD) processes;
  •  the support of a complementary international mechanism to supervise compliance; and
  •  more clarity on the relationship between liability for failing to conduct mandatory HRDD and liability for human rights abuses.



Child labour is an affront to our common values

The universal ratification of the ILO’s Convention on the Worst Forms of Child Labour is a positive step for Africa’s children says Cynthia Samuel-Olonjuwon, ILO Assistant Director-General and Regional Director for Africa.

ILO Convention No. 182 on the Worst Forms of Child Labour  has become the first international labour standard ever to achieve universal ratification. This historic achievement reflects a global consensus that the worst forms of child labour are unacceptable, and an affront to our common values. That when children are trapped in slavery, forced labour and trafficking; forced to participate in armed conflict; used for prostitution, pornography or in illicit activities; or in hazardous work, we must act urgently to protect their rights and restore their childhood.

While the universal ratification of ILO Convention 182  is a big push toward eradicating the issue by establishing a clear legal framework, countries still need to enforce and ensure effective implementation through labour inspection and other means and provide decent work for adults and young people of legal working age.

In Africa, Convention 182 holds tremendous importance. In fact, the first country to formally ratify the convention was the Republic of Seychelles , just a few months after the ILO’s 174 member States unanimously adopted it in June 1999.

However, 72.1 million African children are still involved in child labour, including 31.5 million children engaged in hazardous work. According to the ILO’s global estimates on child labour published in 2017, sub-Saharan Africa witnessed a rise in child labour from 2012 to 2016, in contrast to other regions where child labour continued to decline.

In order to achieve Target 8.7  of the Sustainable Development Goals  (SDGs), which aims to eliminate all forms of child labour by 2025, we must accelerate actions against child labour in Africa. African countries need to address informality, extend social protection to all, improve legal enforcement mechanisms, increase access to free, basic, quality education and strengthen social dialogue.

Child Labour

Kids United sings against child labour

French youth music group, Kids United New Generation, has lent their voices to the ILO’s global campaign to end child labour. Their latest song highlights the urgent need to take action and calls on governments and organizations around the world to do more.

Press release | 20 November 2020

GENEVA (ILO News) – The French musical group, Kids United New Generation , have joined the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) campaign to end child labour.

The singers have dedicated their latest song, Take a Stand, to the UN International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour , scheduled for 2021.

The new song highlights the urgent need to take action to address the problem and calls on governments and organizations around the world to do more. The lyrics focus on a message of hope, that child labour can end if we all work together.

“We all must do our part
To give these lives a brand-new start
On us, their futures depend
Bring child labour to an end.”



ILO welcomes G20 continued commitment to safeguard livelihoods

ILO Director-General says job protection and creation, social protection and social dialogue are essential to minimize the long-term damage from the COVID-19 pandemic.

GENEVA (ILO News) – ILO Director-General Guy Ryder has welcomed the commitment by G20 leaders to use all available policy tools to safeguard people’s lives, jobs and incomes, and support the global economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic .

“Together with the health emergency we confront an employment crisis of unprecedented proportions,” he stated, in his remarks to G20 leaders on the first day of their Summit in Saudi Arabia .

Ryder commended the fiscal stimulus that underpinned the significant social protection measures taken by G20 countries to protect jobs and livelihoods during the pandemic.

Citing ILO estimates, the Summit Declaration  stated that the temporary extension of social protection measures during the crisis have supported the livelihoods of nearly 645 million people.

Gender-based Violence

Film director wins ILO prize for gender based violence documentary

The winning short film touches on fundamental gender and child rights’ issues addressed by the International Labour Organization.

Press release | 25 November 2020

Cairo (ILO News) - Egyptian film director Loai Galal, has won an ILO award at the Shasha Mobile Film Festival  for his short film “Message to my Dad”, which tells the story of a young woman who is a victim of gender based violence.

The seven-minute film, shot entirely on a mobile phone, won first prize in a special short film category sponsored by the ILO. It touches upon many fundamental ILO issues such as child labour, child marriage, violence against girls and women and stolen childhood

It was selected by a panel from the ILO’s Communication and Public Information Department, and judged on a variety of criteria including storytelling, creativity and engagement.

Galal said that the idea for the film came from his belief that the main challenge to gender equality is the behaviour and attitudes of men.


ILO News

Cash flow the biggest problem facing business during COVID-19 crisis

Micro and small enterprises worst affected by COVID-19 pandemic, says a survey of 4,500 enterprises in 45 countries.

News | 27 November 2020

© ILOGENEVA (ILO News) – A new report  on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic  on businesses shows that their greatest challenges have been insufficient cash flow to maintain staff and operations, supplier disruptions and access to raw materials.

With businesses already undergoing significant competitive pressure prior to the crisis, government restrictions, health challenges and the economic fall-out brought by COVID-19 further set back many enterprises.

Interrupted cash flow was the greatest problem, the survey found. More than 85 per cent reported the pandemic had a high or medium financial impact on their operations. Only a third said they had sufficient funding for recovery. Micro and small enterprises (those with 99 employees or fewer) were worst affected.


Peter Sagar, A Living Tradition CIC, November 2020




















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