Trade union rights

Global trends and forces are affecting public service unions everywhere. There is a community of interest between all unions, whether they are affected by the policies of the International Financial Institutions or are experiencing privatisation, outsourcing or other ‘reform’ measures that place pressure on public services.

Trade union rights news

04 November 2011

All work has dignity, and all workers deserve to be treated with respect by their employers. Trade unions play a decisive role in improving working conditions, safety and wages – yet some governments and employers systematically abuse the right of workers to join existing unions or form new ones. PSI works actively to support the right of workers to free collective bargaining, and to help stop abuses when they occur.

Trade union development

04 November 2011

Free and democratic trade unions are built on solidarity – people working together for improvements in the workplace and the community. Through PSI, unions around the world work together to support each other. Established unions share their knowledge and experience with unions that have fewer resources. This assistance ranges from help with developing tools to serve members, to resource and education materials, to international support in upholding members’ rights.

Urgent Actions & Solidarity Appeals

04 November 2011

Trade union rights are human rights. Some governments and employers systematically reject or abuse these rights. PSI supports affiliates when they face violations. We organise international support, help with developing the tools to defend members, represent affiliates before the International Labour Organisation, and provide resource and education material.

Solidarity with Guatemala

20 August 2013

Violation of trade union rights is rampant in Guatemala, where more than 80 trade union leaders have been murdered in in recent years.


The ILO supervisory bodies have been examining this situation for many years, but the progress achieved is limited. As a result, workers’ delegates lodged a complaint against the country during the International Labour Conference in 2012. The Department of Labor of the United States of America has reached similar conclusions under the review mechanism of labor clause of the Free Trade Agreement between the United States, Central America and the Dominican Republic (CAFTA-DR). Successive governments in Guatemala have pledged several times to address and remedy this situation, the last of these attempts being the adoption of the Roadmap in 2013.


PSI missions visited the country in 2013, 2014, 2016 and 2017, and created the PSI Coordination Group, which has been campaigning to strengthen the trade union movement and leading the efforts to achieve a significant improvement on matters related to freedom of association in the country.

Solidarity with Liberia

17 June 2016

Although Liberia has ratified ILO Conventions 87 and 98 and the Liberian constitution guarantees the right to freedom of association, the right to organise is not recognised in the public sector and unions and associations are confronted with continuous anti-union behaviour from the government.

In 2014, the government fired health workers who were on the front lines of the fight against Ebola, simply because they were trying to ensure adequate protection and working conditions for public workers. Other unions have been denied registration, and union leaders and activists are regularly dismissed, displaced to faraway regions, denied their salaries, and intimidated.

PSI has been campaigning for the reinstatement of Joseph Tamba and George Poe Williams of NAHWAL and for the respect of trade union rights in Liberia. In 2016, NAHWAL – together with PSI, ITUC, UNISON, SEIU – filed a complaint with the ILO Committee on Freedom of Association.

Solidarity with South Korea

11 April 2017

Korea has been under trade union repression for many years.

Following the 14 November 2015 demonstrations, dozens of trade union leaders were detained and hundreds were under investigation. In relation to these protests, KCTU President, Mr. Han, Sang-gyun, and KPTU Vice President Mr. Cho Sung-Duk, were sentenced to 5 and 2 years’ imprisonment, respectively, in 2016.

The imposition of a discriminatory performance-related pay and termination system, as part of government attempt to further liberalise and privatise public services, prompted new protests. An international delegation made up of 10 representatives from PSI, ITF, and their affiliates travelled to the country on 26 September 2016 with the goal of supporting the Korean public sector workers’ strike.

The trade union movement has been demanding from the Korean government:

  • To stop the unilateral enforcement of the performance-related pay and termination system
  • To guarantee workers’ rights to collective bargaining and collective action
  • To reinstate all workers suspended from their job positions
  • To release all imprisoned workers

Solidarity with Turkey

11 April 2017

PSI at the International Labour Conference (ILC)

14 May 2013

The 106th Session of the International Labour Conference will be held at the Palais des Nations and the ILO headquarters, in Geneva, from 5 to 16 June 2017. PSI will be working in close cooperation with its affiliates and the Workers’ Group at the ILC to make the voices of public sector workers heard!