Five years since its founding Congress in Copenhagen, IndustriALL Global Union has kept its promise to be a campaigning organization becoming a powerful force in fighting for workers’ rights and social justice worldwide.
On 20 June 2012, three federations merged to form IndustriALL Global Union uniting 50 million workers in 140 countries. IndustriALL has over 600 affiliates in sectors including mining, metals, energy, chemical, textile, and manufacturing.
IndustriALL’s general secretary, Valter Sanches, said:
“Over the past five years, IndustriALL has shown time and again that we are stronger together. We have made multinational companies accountable, we have made governments listen, we have fought for worker rights and won. IndustriALL is proof that international solidarity works!”
Following the disastrous collapse of the Rana Plaza factory complex in Bangladesh that killed over a thousand garment workers in 2013, IndustriALL lead the drive in pushing more than 200 global fashion brands to sign the legally-binding Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety. The Accord has since inspected more than 1,600 factories improving safety for two million workers. IndustriALL together with its partners and Uni Global Union, also succeeded in securing US$30 million dollars in compensation for victims.
IndustriALL’s work over the past five years has been and continues to be guided by its five strategic goals: building strong unions, confronting global capital, ending precarious work, sustainable industrial policy and defending workers’ rights.
Defending workers’ rights
There is a war of attrition on workers’ rights around the world. IndustriALL affiliates’ support for their fellow unionists under duress has shown that international solidarity works. IndustriALL campaigns have helped to release jailed unionists in Cambodia and Bangladesh, stood up for worker rights in Yemen and Spain, and contributed to the downfall of an authoritarian president in Korea. IndustriALL's campaign against protection contracts in Mexico have gained recognition of the problem, leading the ILO to make recommendations to the government of Mexico to comply with ILO Convention 87 on freedom of association. This pressure resulted in reforms to the 2016 labour laws, which would allow the abolition of protection contracts which deprive so many Mexican workers of the right to organize and bargain collectively.
Building strong unions
Increasing union membership is at the core of IndustriALL’s mission. IndustriALL’s union building projects have seen results thousands of new members in countries including India, Indonesia and Zambia, among others. Increasing membership of women and young people is vital to build union strength. Since the second IndustriALL Congress in Rio de Janeiro in October 2016, IndustriALL has set a target for women’s representation in leadership positions and activities at 40 per cent. The drive for increased participation for women at IndustriALL has in turn influenced national union structures, for example, IndustriALL metalworkers’ affiliate in Indonesia, FSPMI, set a 40 per cent quota for women’s representation in its own structures.
Confronting global capital
IndustriALL’s corporate campaigns, such as those targeting Rio Tinto and LafargeHolcim, have been made significant gains for workers. IndustriALL works against global capital when necessary but also realizes the importance of social dialogue to achieve its aims. Global framework agreements (GFAs) with almost 50 multinational companies help to make sure that fundamental worker and trade union rights are promoted and protected. The GFAs with French car giant, PSA, and clothing brand H&M, ensure worker rights throughout their global supply chains covering direct and indirect workers at suppliers. Similarly, IndustriALL’s trade union networks in multinational companies help to empower unions and workers by sharing information and acting together.
Stop Precarious Work
IndustriALL has campaigned continuously against precarious work through targeted projects and helped unions organize tens of thousands of precarious workers. Participation by IndustriALL affiliates to protest against the precarious work on 7 October, the world day for decent work, grows year on year.
Sustainable industrial policy
As we experience the digital transformation of industry, sometimes referred to as the fourth industrial revolution, IndustriALL has stepped up its campaign for secure and sustainable jobs open to all those affected by automation and digitalization. With the challenge to tackle climate change and meet global emissions targets, IndustriALL is demanding a Just Transition so that no worker gets left behind as we shift to cleaner energy.
IndustriALL is a campaigning organization and the campaign for a living wage includes the groundbreaking ACT agreement with major apparel brands to improve wages through industry-wide collective bargaining.
“IndustriALL has built solid foundations from which to go forward. The challenges we face are great but we are prepared to meet them. We thank our affiliates for their immense support over the past five years, and we count on them in the future,” said Sanches.