From left to right: Pierre Habbard, GS TUAC, Stephen Cotton, GS ITF, Sharan Burrow, GS ITUC, Tim Noonan, Head of Department ITUC
From left to right: Pierre Habbard, GS TUAC, Stephen Cotton, GS ITF, Sharan Burrow, GS ITUC, Tim Noonan, Head of Department ITUC

The Council of Global Unions condemns attacks on labour rights

published 14 February 2018 updated 8 June 2018

The Council of Global Unions held its 12th meeting with a clear message in support of its members in the USA and against attacks on the American trade union movement.

During its annual conference, which took place  on 13 February at the OECD Headoffice in Paris, the Council voiced its deep concern about the restriction of trade unions' freedoms in the United States under the guise of freedom of speech.

Affiliates of the Public Services International (PSI) and Education International (EI) are currently fighting severe attacks, aimed at prohibiting the collection of fair share fees from non-unionised workers who nonetheless have to be legally represented by unions. The offensive is supported by wealthy conservatives including the Koch Brothers, whose goal is to diminish the power of the US labour movement. On 26 February the case will be presented to the US Supreme Court. “The case warps and weaponises the idea of freedom of speech by enabling one person’s complaint to undermine the interests of millions of workers across the country who benefit from collective bargaining,” according to a statement issued by the Council. It considers the case not as an isolated, domestic event but rather as part of a global attempt to weaken the trade union movement, as became apparent with the recently established Trade Union Act in the United Kingdom.

Finding strategies

The meeting discussed strategies to meet urgent challenges that confront the international trade union movement, from international trade agreements to tax evasion by global corporations, and climate change.

Attendants were briefed about the launch a global campaign to promote the observance of fundamental rights on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the ILO in 2019. The campaign will have a special focus on occupational health and safety.

The Council also examined the progress of the work done by the ILO Commission on the Future of Work, whose mandate is to produce an independent report on how to achieve a future of work that provides decent and sustainable work opportunities for all. Participants at the meeting had the chance to discuss with the Director General of ILO, Mr. Guy Ryder. They also had discussions with Mr. Angel Gurria, Director General of OECD, about OECD’s Jobs Strategy.

EI was represented by Fred van Leeuwen, General Secretary, David Edwards, Deputy General Secretary, and Duncan Smith, Senior Coordinator.


The CGU brings together the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), the Trade Union Advisory Committee to the OECD (TUAC), as well as the Global Union Federations, including Education International.