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May Day 2024: Trade Unions For Democracy

There is no democracy without trade unions – that’s the message of the global trade union movement this May Day.

The ITUC For Democracy campaign is about trade unions acting now to stop the alarming decline of democracy, and the simultaneous rise in attacks on workers’ rights.

  • The 2023 Global State of Democracy report shows that democracy is contracting in every region of the world. Every year since 2018 more countries experienced net declines in democratic processes than improvements.
  • This anti-democratic trend corresponds with global attacks on trade union rights. Over ten years the ITUC Global Rights Index has tracked the deteriorating situation. In 2023 violations of key measures reached new highs: 87% of countries violated the right to strike, while 79% violated the right to collective bargaining.

Respect for workers’ rights, high union density and collective agreement coverage lead to more equitable wealth distribution and greater public trust in democratic institutions. Norway, for instance, is cited by the V-Dem Institute as a leading example of a deliberative and egalitarian democracy due to its high trade union density and collective agreement coverage.

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ITUC General Secretary Luc Triangle said: “Trade unions are the world’s biggest social movement. We embody and practice democratic values daily, and it's time we reaffirmed our commitment to defending and promoting these principles globally. Democracy is not just a political ideal but a lived reality that workers are uniquely positioned to defend and enhance.”

"This May Day, let's remember the integral role trade unions have played in nurturing democracy and mobilise to secure and advance democratic values for the future."

The ITUC's "For Democracy" campaign will reinforce democracy at work, nationally and internationally, by advocating for:

  • Workers’ rights to unionise, strike and engage in collective bargaining at the workplace.
  • Democracy in society including free speech, a free press and gender equality.
  • Democratic reforms of global institutions to prioritise public welfare and labour standards over private profits.

The 2024 ITUC Global Rights Index will be released on 12 June 2024.

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