This “Practical Guide to Trade Union Action: International Human Rights Instruments” presents tools that trade unions can use at the international level to strengthen their action in the defense and promotion of human rights at the local and national levels.
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Human rights, including labor and trade union rights, have long been recognized in important international human rights standards adopted within the United Nations and the International Labor Organization. There is no doubt that international regulation of labor and union human rights has been an important step to improve the working and living conditions of the working class. However, it is also clear that mere proclamations at the international level are not enough for human rights to be effectively respected, promoted or protected at the local and national levels. The existence of concrete and effective mechanisms of control and protection capable of enforcing international human rights obligations on States and companies are indispensable.
Today, at the international level, there are various mechanisms (contentious, non-contentious, ‘semi-contentious’) that trade unions can use to put pressure on states and companies to respect human rights. The vast majority of these mechanisms are complementary; that is, they can be used by trade unions in a parallel and coordinated manner. The combined and simultaneous use of these mechanisms by trade unions reinforces their effectiveness.
Finally, the existence of these international mechanisms is not sufficient to guarantee the effective respect of the human rights of workers. What really counts is their effective and strategic use. In this sense, the action of the unions is essential and irreplaceable to guaranteeing the efficacy, respect, promotion and protection of human rights for the working class.
With all of this in mind, Public Services International, with support from the DGB, previously published Practical Guides on the mechanisms of the Inter-American Human Rights System and the International Labour Organization. This Guide follows up on those by presenting practical information on the following 7 international instruments:
The Universal Human Rights System of the United Nations
Monitoring system of the Sustainable Development Goals of Agenda 2030
System for the promotion and implementation of the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises
Global Framework Agreements
Labor Chapters of Free Trade Agreements
Labor Safeguards of the Multilateral Banks
International Criminal System for crimes against humanity and genocide
The Guide has been developed using a practical approach for use by union leaders and advisors. Care has been taken to explain the contents with the aim of introducing trade unionists to the mechanisms and procedures of each of these 7 instruments, opening a door and inviting them to get to know these tools and use them to strengthen trade union action.
* The text above was taken from the "Introduction" of the Guide
The guide is available in English, Portuguese and Spanish. It is one of the outcomes of the joint project “Fighting setbacks; strengthening trade unions in the promotion of equal opportunities and combating discrimination”, between PSI and the training organization Bildungswerk BUND of the German Trade Union Confederation, DGB.
Watch below the video produced based on the “Practical Guide to Trade Union Action: International Human Rights Instruments”:
Video based on the publication “Practical Guide to Trade Union Action: International Human Rights Instruments”, produced by Public Services International in association with DGB.