Multiple areas of crisis see workers’ rights crumble: 2022 ITUC Global Rights Index

By International Trade Union Confederation

Multiple areas of crisis see workers’ rights crumble: 2022 ITUC Global Rights Index

This ninth edition of the Index ranks 148 countries by their respect for workers’ rights. As a comprehensive review of workers’ rights in law, it is the only database of its kind. Cases of violations and national ratings can be viewed by country and region.

Nine-year highs have been recorded in several areas:

  • 113 countries exclude workers from their right to establish or join a trade union, up from 106 in 2021 to 113. Workers were excluded from workplace representation in Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Myanmar, Syria, and Tunisia.
  • 77% of countries denied workers the right to establish and join a trade union.
  • Authorities in 74% of countries impeded the registration of unions, up from 59%, with state repression of independent union activity in Afghanistan, Belarus, Egypt, Jordan, Hong Kong, Myanmar, and Sudan.
  • 50 countries exposed workers to physical violence, up from 45 in 2021, including a rise of 35% to 43% of countries in the Asia-Pacific region and 12% to 26% in Europe.
  • 87% of countries violated the right to strike. Strikes in Belarus, Egypt, India, Myanmar, the Philippines, and Sudan were met with the arrest of union leaders or with violent repression.
  • Four in five countries blocked collective bargaining. This right is being eroded in the public and private sectors in every region. In Tunisia, no negotiations can take place with unions without authorization from the head of government.

ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow said: “We know that workers are on the front line of multiple and extraordinary crises: historic levels of inequality, the climate emergency, a pandemic destroying lives and livelihoods, and conflicts with devastating domestic and global impacts. The 2022 ITUC Global Rights Index exposes how this instability is being exploited with so many governments and employers attacking workers’ rights. We must expose the wrongdoing to make governments realize they have to rebuild with a new social contract: jobs, wages, rights, social protection, equality, and inclusion.”

  • The ten worst countries for working people are Bangladesh, Belarus, Brazil, Colombia, Egypt, Myanmar, the Philippines, and Turkey, with Eswatini and Guatemala entering the list for 2022.
  • Country ratings improved for El Salvador, Niger, and Saudi Arabia, but worsened for Armenia, Afghanistan, Australia, Burkina Faso, Guinea, Jamaica, Lesotho, the Netherlands, Tunisia, and Uruguay.
  • Trade unionists were killed in thirteen countries, 41% of countries denied or constrained freedom of speech and assembly, workers experienced arbitrary arrests and detentions in 69 countries, and 66% of countries denied or restricted workers’ access to justice, including a rise in 76% to 95% of countries in Africa.

“The world needs a new social contract to start to undo this damage. Fundamentally, this will put working people back at the center of the economy. Working people are the first to suffer the consequences of wars, authoritarian governments, exploitative employers, and inaction on climate. Their interests must be put first in the decisions to tackle these crises, and they must have a voice in the decision-making through their unions”.

“Where there is abusive monopoly power or violations of human and labor rights or a struggle for peace and democracy, unions of working people are there to win justice, rights, and representation. And without unions, there will be no just transition in the face of climate change and technological change. The 2022 Index is more evidence that the status quo cannot continue. The economic model has supported a race to the bottom that disregards human rights and environmental standards. The nine years of data from the Index show that this is spreading. Workers and consumers demand better. They demand jobs, wages, rights, social protection, equality, and inclusion. They demand a new social contract that can start to rebuild trust and lives.”