Workers around the world, however, face systematic barriers to organizing, including egregious acts of violence and intimidation. According to the International Trade Union Confederation’s Annual Survey, at least 76 labor activists were killed as a result of their actions defending workers’ rights worldwide in 2008. Thousands of workers were physically and verbally harassed, arrested and abducted for their involvement with unions as they continue to be denied their fundamental, internationally recognized right to freedom of association and collective bargaining. In light of the disturbing state of workplace rights worldwide, ILRF has created this guide to understanding one of the human rights most widely violated in the workplace: the right to associate freely around the world. Only when this right is in place can we say workers enjoy freedom at work.
The Freedom at Work toolkit is designed for audiences that may not be familiar with the global labor movement and organizing struggles. The first section outlines why defending the right to organize can help empower working women, end trafficking, curb forced and child labor, defend the rights of migrants, and protect consumers. The second section explains why worker rights are an essential component of human rights. The last section presents a series of case studies of violations of the right to organize from around the world. These case studies also include success stories of workers who have joined together despite facing many barriers. Finally, you will find a glossary, a web resource guide and a “what you can do” section that will allow you to translate what you have learned into concrete action in support of workers.