INTERNATIONAL CONFEDERATION OF FREE TRADE UNIONS (ICFTU)

ICFTU OnLine
110/990610/DD

TRADE UNION RIGHTS VIOLATIONS - THE BUG WILL CONTINUE INTO THE NEW MILLENNIUM SAYS GLOBAL TRADE UNION


Geneva, June 10 1999 (ICFTU OnLine): "Trade unions continue to be hampered by gross violations of their rights, as they galvanise themselves to fight for workers' rights in the twenty-first century" said ICFTU General Secretary Bill Jordan, launching the ICFTU's 1999 Trade Union Rights Survey in Geneva today.

This year's survey shows that 123 trade unionists were murdered in 1998, 1650 individuals were attacked or injured, 3660 were arrested, and a massive 21,427 were sacked for trade union activities. This year a record number of 119 countries are cited. The ICFTU believes these figures represent the tip of the iceberg.

Latin America
Africa
Europe
Asia
Middle East

123 people murdered for being trade unionists

1650 individual trade unionists attacked or injured

3660 people arrested for carrying out trade union activities

21,427 workers worldwide sacked for being trade unionists

Developing Trends

The crises for trade unionists are a direct reflection of world events, as the world economic recession impacts on workers. Flashpoints between workers and governments or employers frequently arise when workers protest against government austerity measures, or job layoffs brought about by the global economic crisis. Thus in Korea, the Philippines or Thailand, many of the demonstrations are held by workers protesting at job layoffs. In Russia, and Central Europe, workers' protests are about wages, sometimes up to three years in arrears. In South America, (Bolivia, Ecuador or Argentina) workers have been protesting about government austerity measures, and in Africa, tensions arose in Egypt, Kenya and Zambia (where two workers were shot) after teachers and nurses protested over government reform programmes.

The Middle East

Countries in the Middle East get little mention each year in the survey. This is not because of their spotless trade union rights record. Far from it. Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Oman and the United Arab Emirates ban trade unions altogether. Many of these countries are also dependent on a large migrant workforce which have no rights, as in the United Arab Emirates where migrants make up between 85 and 90% of the total workforce.

Fifty years of ILO Convention 98 and fifty years of the ICFTU Each June the ICFTU uses the opportunity of the International Labour Conference to launch its survey, since the survey deals with violations committed under ILO Conventions 87, Right to Freedom of Association, and 98, Right to Collective Bargaining. This year is the fiftieth anniversary of Convention 98; it is shocking to see how many governments still deny their workers rights under this Convention.

1999 is the fiftieth anniversary of the ICFTU which was founded in London in December 1949. Then it represented 50 million workers, now it represents 124 million worldwide, in 213 affiliated organisations in 143 countries and territories. "Our slogan 'Bread Peace and Freedom' which we coined 50 years ago, is just as relevant now"' said Bill Jordan. "We will continue fighting for workers' rights to liberty, and their right to earn decent wages in a decent job. ILO Conventions which gives workers these rights in international law are part of that fight,".

For further information, please contact the ICFTU Press Office on: 322 224 0212


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