Union rights in the firing line of the new phase of global crisis
Introducing today’s meeting of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) Human and Trade Union Rights Committee in Belgium, ITUC leader Sharan Burrow noted that whilst the first phase of the global financial crisis had cost millions of workers their jobs, their wage levels and their pension entitlements, this had been the result of the crisis, not the objective. But that had changed, she said, as world leaders turned on their own people with austerity plans and attacks on trade union rights.
The committee set out a list of priority countries for campaigning: Bahrain, Burma, Colombia, Egypt, Fiji, Georgia, Guatemala, Swaziland, Turkey and Zimbabwe (the list could have been longer than ten, and there are certainly many other countries where union rights are under threat). But the ITUC is well aware that union rights are a mechanism for defending and advancing the interests of ordinary working people, rather than an end in themselves. And they are under attack in many countries – including now across the formerly union-friendly European Union, eg in Romania – because they get in the way of making ordinary people pay for the crisis.