1 November 1982
new internationalist 117 November 1982
GLOBAL TRADE UNIONISM The Facts
One worker in every six is a trade unionist But only one in 20 belongs to a union which is relatively independent of the government or the ruling political party. Most unions are affiliated to a global international and to one or more industry - specific secretariats.
DEGREE OF TRADE UNION INDEPENDENCE
Conventions 87 and 98 of the International Labour Organisation guarantee the right of workers to organise freely and bargain collectively with employers. These trade union rights are violated in most countries.
*A dual system exists in a number of countries— the government controls workers by pressuring them to join unions which are manipulated by the ruling political party or the government itself; independent unions, though tolerated, are subjected to severe restrictions, harrassment or brutal repression. Examples are Brazil, Mexico, South Korea and the Philippines.
Click on map to enlarge
This world map is according to a modern projection by Dr. Arno Peters of Bremen University. It gives a more accurate view of the actual size of Third World countries compared with Europe than the more familiar Mercator projection, designed in the 16th century for use by European seafarers.
These confederations bring together national trade union movements and are mainly political in nature.
WORLD CONFEDERATION OF LABOUR
Socialist/Social Democrat 18 million members in 80 countries mainly Third World, Belgium and Holland.
Headquarters: Brussels. Founded 1920, reconstituted 1968.
INTERNATIONAL CONFEDERATION OF FREE TRADE UNIONS
Reformist/Social Democrat 85 million members in 93 countries mainly in Western Europe, N. America, Australasia and the Third World.
Headquarters: Brussels. Founded 1949.
WORLD FEDERATION OF TRADE UNIONS
Communist/Socialist 201 million members in 88 countries. Mainly Eastern European and Third World.
Headquarters: Prague. Founded 1949.
These represent workers from the same industry but different countries. Their main emphasis is industrial problems involving multinational employers.
INTERNATIONAL TRADE UNION FEDERATIONS
(part of World Confederation of Labor) 12 Federations representing 11 million workers.
INTERNATIONAL TRADE SECRETARIATS
(associated with International Confederation of Free Trade Unions) 16 Secretariats representing 61 million workers.
Headquarters: Geneva, Brussels, Vienna, Zurich, London, Denver and Antwerp.
TRADE UNION INTERNATIONALS
(part of World Federation of Trade Unions)
11 Internationals representing approx. 200 million workers.
Headquarters: Prague, Helsinki, Budapest Sofia, Moscow, Warsaw and East Berlin.
The State of World Atlas, 1981
The International Directory of the Trade Union Movement 1979
ILO Labour Force Estimates and Projections, 1950—2000, 1977
The Europa Yearbook, 1982
This article is from
the November 1982 issue
of New Internationalist.
You can access the entire archive of over 500 issues with a digital subscription.
Get a free trial now »