November 25, 2022
2022 ITUC Global Rights Index
The world’s worst countries for workers – Executive Summary
The breakdown of the social contract between workers, government and business saw the number of countries which exclude workers from their right to establish or join a trade union increase from 106 in 2021 to 113 in 2022. Workers were excluded from workplace representation in Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Myanmar, Tunisia and Syria.
In a climate of increasing levels of violence and attacks on workers, the number of countries which expose workers to physical violence increased from 45 in 2021 to 50 in 2022. The Asia-Pacific region saw a significant increase in countries where workers faced violence, rising from 35 per cent of countries in 2021 to 43 per cent of countries in 2022. In Europe, the number of countries where workers faced violence doubled from 12 per cent in 2021 to 26 per cent of countries in 2022.
The ninth edition of the ITUC Global Rights Index ranks 148 countries on the degree of respect for workers’
rights. The 2022 ITUC Global Rights Index has an interactive website where cases of violated rights and national ratings can be viewed by country and region.
A comprehensive review of workers’ rights in law in 148 countries provides the only database of its kind. As consumers and investors demand increasing accountability regarding which companies to trust and which countries to operate in, the nine-year data trends analysed in the 2022 Global Rights Index expose attacks on the right to strike and the right to establish and join a trade union as well as on the registration of unions; arbitrary arrests and detentions; and restrictions on access to justice.
Eighty-seven per cent of countries violated the right to strike. Strikes in Belarus, Egypt, India and the
Philippines led to prosecution of union leaders. In Sudan and Myanmar, strikes to oppose military rule
were met with brutal repression.
Seventy-nine per cent of countries violated the right to collective bargaining. In all regions, collective bargaining is being eroded in both public and private sectors. Extreme government control over collective bargaining was seen in Tunisia, where no negotiation can take place with unions without the authorisation from the head of government.
Seventy-four per cent of countries excluded workers from the right to establish and join a trade union. Migrant workers, public sector workers, and workers in export processing zones were blocked and excluded from labour protection. While Qatar and Saudi Arabia have undertaken major reforms to end the kafala system, the UAE continued to deny migrant workers collective representation.
The ten worst countries for workers in 2022 are the following: Bangladesh, Belarus, Brazil, Colombia, Egypt, Eswatini, Guatemala, Myanmar, the Philippines and Turkey.
Eswatini and Guatemala are new entries in 2022. Brutal repression of pro-democracy protests and a systematic ban on demonstrations and strikes pushed Eswatini into the ten worst countries.
Endemic anti-union violence, together with impunity for the perpetrators of violence, set back progress in Guatemala. Armenia, Australia, Burkina Faso, Guinea, Jamaica, Lesotho, the Netherlands, Tunisia and Uruguay all saw their ratings worsen in 2022. Afghanistan increased to category 5+, No guarantee of rights, due to the breakdown of the rule of law.
Three countries saw their ratings improve: El Salvador, Niger and Saudi Arabia.
Trade unionists were killed in thirteen countries: Bangladesh, Colombia, Ecuador, Eswatini, Guatemala, Haiti, India, Iraq, Italy, Lesotho, Myanmar, the Philippines and South Africa.
Freedom of speech and assembly was denied or constrained in 41% of countries, with extreme cases reported in Hong Kong and Myanmar.
The number of countries where authorities impeded the registration of unions increased from 59 per cent of countries in 2014 to 74 per cent of countries in 2022, with state repression of independent union activity in Afghanistan, Belarus, Egypt, Jordan, Hong Kong, Myanmar and Sudan.
Workers had no or restricted access to justice in 66 percent of countries, with severe cases reported in Belarus, Guatemala and Kazakhstan. Africa saw the greatest regional increase in restrictions on access to justice from 76 per cent of countries in 2021 to 95 per cent of countries in 2022.
Workers experienced arbitrary arrests and detentions in 69 countries. Trade union leaders from Cambodia, Hong Kong and Myanmar were among those who faced high-profile arrests and ongoing detention in 2022.
Source: ITUC Global Rights Index
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