Trade Unions

We will not be silenced

A message from Eric Lee of LabourStart

Every June, trade union leaders, employers and government officials meet in Geneva for the International Labour Conference.  And every year since 1926, that conference has set aside some time to discuss the worst violations of trade union rights.  But not this year – because this year employers have put down their foot and said "no". As I write these words, unions have issued some strong statements (here's one example) and we're monitoring the situation.

To coincide with the conference, the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) has just issued its annual report on violations of trade union rights — and it makes for chilling reading.

"Colombia is once again the most dangerous country in the world for trade unionists," says the ITUC. "Of the 76 people murdered for their trade union activities, not counting the workers killed during the Arab Spring, 29 lost their lives in Colombia. And in Guatemala yet again trade unionists paid a heavy price, with 10 assassinations committed with impunity. A further eight trade unionists were murdered in Asia."

You can read the report in full here.

As if to highlight those issues, two of the global union federations have launched major appeals in the last 24 hours.

One is in support of oil workers in Iraq – please make sure to add your name to the online campaign here.

The other supports nine trade union leaders in Algeria, five of them women, who have been on hunger strike since 6 May.  They too need your urgent support – please click here.

The employers' representatives in Geneva may want us to stop talking about workers rights, and maybe they'll succeed in doing so at the ILO conference.  But they can't stop us from campaigning — as we will show them in the next few hours.  We are going to fill the inboxes of political leaders in Iraq and Algeria with our messages of protest.  And we're going to show the world once again what solidarity means.

I know that I can count on your support – thank you!