The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) released its Global Rights index on 18 June 2020, showing government and employer human rights’ violations and naming the worst offending countries.
Violations of workers’ rights are at a seven-year high and include a wide range of abuses, such as violence and killings, limiting of freedom of speech, government surveillance on unions and their members, violations of collective bargaining and the right to strike as well as excluding workers from joining unions.
Last points have been made worse in 2020 by an increase in the number of countries which impede the registration of unions. ITUC speaks of a “trend” identified in 2020 which shows many scandals over government surveillance of trade union leaders, to instill fear. The number of countries which denied or constrained freedom of speech increased from 54 in 209 to 56 in 2020, with extreme cases reported in Hong Kong and Turkey. Eighty-five per cent of countries have violated the right to strike.
These threats to workers were already present before the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the existing repression of unions and the refusal of governments to respect rights and engage in social dialogue has exposed workers to illness and death and left countries unable to fight COVID-19 effectively.
Additionally, workers were killed, including at trade union protests, in nine countries: Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Honduras, Iraq, the Philippines and South Africa.
Due diligence has become an even more important topic during COVID-19 and human rights risk in supply chains are important to avoid.
Learn more about how to monitor social compliance of the entire supply chain in our human rights webinar.