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ITUC Global Rights Index 2018: shrinking democratic space and rising corporate greed

7 June, 2018The number of countries with arbitrary arrests and detention of workers increased from 44 in 2017 to 59 in 2018, and freedom of speech was constrained in 54 countries.

The ITUC Global Rights Index 2018 ranks 142 countries against 97 internationally recognised indicators to assess where workers’ rights are best protected in law and in practice.

The three global trends for workers’ rights identified in the 2018 Global Rights Index are  shrinking democratic space, unchecked corporate influence and the importance of legislation.

Democracy is under attack in countries that fail to guarantee people’s right to organize, speak out and take action. Brazil passed laws that denied freedom of association, China restricted free speech and the military was used to suppress labour disputes in Indonesia,

says Sharan Burrow, general secretary, International Trade Union Confederation.

More countries are excluding workers from labour law – from migrant workers, public sector employees to workers in platform businesses, with 65 per cent of countries excluding whole categories of workers from labour law.

Decent work and democratic rights grew weaker in almost all countries, while inequality continued to grow.

IndustriALL general secretary Valter Sanches says:

Unfortunately, violations of workers’ and trade union rights is more a rule than an exception. During this last week we have supported a number of countries’ workers' groups during the International Labour Conference, where only the most serious cases are discussed according to the ILO parties. We’ll keep pushing multilateral organizations to play a role on this and will also keep mobilizing international solidarity when needed.

The report’s key findings include:

  • 65% of countries exclude some groups of workers from labour law.
  • 87% of countries have violated the right to strike.
  • 81% of countries deny some or all workers collective bargaining.
  • Out of 142 countries surveyed, 54 deny or constrain free speech and freedom of assembly.
  • The number of countries in which workers are exposed to physical violence and threats increased by 10% (from 59 to 65) and include Bahrain, Honduras, Italy and Pakistan.
  • Countries where workers are arrested and detained increased from 44 in 2017 to 59 in 2018.
  • Trade unionists were murdered in nine countries, including Brazil, China, Colombia, Guatemala, Guinea, Mexico, Niger, Nigeria and Tanzania.