For most people in the Western world it is natural to join a union and to have organisations working for human rights.
Unfortunately, there are countries, and they are increasing in numbers, that actively are working against this. The latest report from ITUC – International Trade Union Confederation – the fifth in order, shows very bad conditions for those who are active in unions and labour work. Lots of them have to stop their work to keep themselves alive.
ITUC released their report on the situation on human and labour rights in the summer of 2018. The investigation leading to the report included 142 countries and didn´t look so good. When it comes to the countries in the investigation it showed that about 80% of the countries working against unions negotiate for treaties on workers rights. 87 percent of the countries are preventing the unions from calling strikes to protest on the working conditions. In most countries it is dangerous to work on union matters. Just joining the union can be dangerous. In more than two thirds of the countries investigated employees are being stopped from joining the unions.
Examples of Crimes
There are lots of examples of crimes against the unions and human rights organisations. In Bangladesh, more than 50 workers were hurt when they made a peaceful demonstration on missing payments from the Haesong Corporation. Demonstrators were attacked by roughnecks, probably hired by the company, and the local police refused to help the protestors. Corruption of police and authorities is a probable cause. They then intimidated the workers by firing people to make a statement. In the Philippines, this tactic is frequently used to scare the employees from protesting and joining unions. Employers at the electric company Amertron Incorporated started a union in 2017 to raise the salaries. This however led to threats and bribes from the company on the union leaders and ended with 532 workers losing their jobs. Also, even larger companies were involved according to the report. According to leaked documents, employees at Samsung in South Korea are denied joining unions or negotiating treaties. The American giant Amazon is accused of bad working conditions at their warehouses in England and USA.
Union Representatives Are Being Murdered
Being a union member in Guatemala definitely counts as a high-risk work. Since 2004, 87 union workers have been killed and there is a strong connection to their work. In 2017 three union leaders were murdered in Brazil and 19 in Colombia. And beyond this, many were abused, threatened and assaulted.
ITUC has a score from one to five where countries get graded on union and human rights. One is the best grade and five is the worst. Very few reach the top grade. One of the few countries that get the highest grade is the European country Sweden. This doesn´t mean that everything is perfect, in this category there are countries where there are just a few crimes on human rights. If you look at the average, the countries in the Middle east and North Africa has the lowest rates. Europe has the best. The international work that is done by the UN has to continue and it needs support to succeed!