Story at a glance
- The International Trade Union Confederation is the world's largest trade union federation.
- The United States was given a low ranking on its 2020 Global Rights Index.
- Among “major developed countries” the U.S. has one of the worst records.
The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) has ranked the United States among the worst countries for workers' rights in its 2020 Global Rights Index for "systemic violations of rights."
“The Global Rights Index exposes a breakdown in the social contract that governments and employers have with working people. There’s a trend to restrict working rights through violations of collective bargaining, withholding the right to strike and excluding workers from unions," said Sharan Burrow, General Secretary of the ITUC.
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The United States was ranked 4, meaning there are systematic violations of workers’ rights, just above China, which was ranked 5, meaning there is no guarantee of workers’ rights. Most of Europe as well as Canada and Australia was given between a 1, meaning there are sporadic violations of rights, and a 3, meaning there are regular violations of rights. The Middle East and North Africa were rated the worst, with many countries ranked 4 or 5, some of whom have impeded the registration of unions, as well as banned strikes and collective bargaining, according to the ITUC.
The report also found that violations of workers’ rights are at a seven-year high, with the number of countries that impede the registration of unions increasing from 86 in 2019 to 89 in 2020. Workers were arrested and detained in 61 countries and experienced violence in 51 countries. Close to or more than three-fourths of countries violated rights to collective bargaining, striking, establishing or joining a trade union and access to justice, the ITUC reported.
“These threats to workers, our economies and democracy were endemic in workplaces and countries before the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted lives and livelihoods. In many countries, the existing repression of unions and the refusal of governments to respect rights and engage in social dialogue has exposed workers to illness and death and left countries unable to fight the pandemic effectively,” Burrow said in the release.
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