Worker rights abused amid cost-of-living crisis: Unions

Worker rights abused amid cost-of-living crisis: Unions

Worker rights abused amid cost-of-living crisis: Unions

Workers in nine out of 10 countries have seen their right to strike violated over the past year as they battle the worst cost-of-living crisis in decades, the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) warned on June 30.

A decade after launching its first annual Global Rights Index, the ITUC said the results for 2023 provided "a sobering confirmation of its founding purpose."

Eighty-seven percent of the 149 countries reviewed in the index violated the right to strike between April 2022 and March 2023, the union group said.

Seventy-nine percent of countries violated the right to collective bargaining, with companies for instance refusing to comply with collective agreements or rejecting established trade unions, it added.

"As workers have felt the full force of a cost-of-living crisis, governments have cracked down on their rights to collectively negotiate wage rises and take strike action against employer and government indifference to the impacts of spiraling inflation upon working people," the union group said in a report.

Ecuador and Tunisia were highlighted by the IUTC, joining its list of the 10 worst countries for workers in 2023.

Mass protests in Ecuador for democracy and collective rights were brutally repressed, it said.

"In Tunisia, President Kais Saied has continued to tighten his hold on power, undermining workers' civil liberties and democratic institutions," it added.

Nineteen trade unionists around the world have been murdered, compared to 17 in the previous comparable period.

Luc Triangle, the ITUC's acting secretary general, said this year saw an "urgent need for action" by unions as workers are slammed by rising costs in the aftermath of the pandemic and Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

However, the index shows "a steady attack on workers who dare to demand fair pay for their labor," he said, adding this was seen "across economic and geographical regions."

"Politicians have continued to hold wages down, have refused to honor negotiations with unions, have restricted strike action and have attempted to quash protests claiming that a wage-price spiral must be avoided," Triangle said in the foreword to the index.

“From Eswatini to Myanmar, Peru to France, Iran to Korea, workers’ demands to have their labor rights upheld have been met with opposition from employers and government indifference, and their dissent has been met with increasingly brutal responses from state forces,” he added.

Many countries are grappling with cost-of-living crises because wages are not keeping up with inflation prompting central banks to raise interest rates to try to tame the rise in prices.

unionization, Economy, cost of living,