Report: Workers’ Rights Weakened in Past Year

Workers’ rights were weakened in most regions over the past year, according to the 2016  International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) Global Rights Index.

Repression of worker rights was compounded by restrictions on freedom of speech and assembly, including severe crackdowns in some countries, which increased by 22 percent, with 50 out of 141 countries surveyed recording restrictions.

The ITUC Global Rights Index ranks 141 countries against 97 internationally recognized indicators to assess where workers’ rights are best protected, in law and in practice.

Global Rights Index Details Chilling Repression

  • Unionists were murdered in 10 countries, including Chile, Colombia, Egypt, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Iran, Mexico, Peru, South Africa and Turkey.
  • 82 countries exclude workers from labor law.
  • More than two-thirds of countries have laws prohibiting some workers from striking.
  • More than half of all countries deny some or all workers collective bargaining.
  • Out of 141 countries, the number which deny or constrain free speech and freedom of assembly increased from 41 to 50.
  • Out of 141 countries, the number in which workers are exposed to physical violence and threats increased by 44 percent (from 36 to 52) and include Colombia, Egypt, Guatemala, Indonesia and the Ukraine.

ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow summed up the global environment this way:

“Repression of workers’ rights goes hand in hand with increased government control over freedom of expression, assembly and other fundamental civil liberties, with too many governments seeking to consolidate their own power and frequently doing the bidding of big business, which often sees fundamental rights as incompatible with its quest for profit at any expense.”

Read the full report.