Global Labour University

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The Global Labour University (GLU) network is an international network of universities, trade unions, NGOs and the International Labour Organisation. It was initiated in 2002 and offers masters programmes on sustainable development, social justice, international labour standards and trade/labour unions, economic policies and global institutions.

Universities and workers’ organisations from around the world have jointly developed these unique global programmes. The programmes aim at allowing labour organisations and social movements to engage more effectively in social dialogue, public debate and policy implementation.

Project concept[edit]

The GLU is a network of trade unionists, researchers and ILO (International Labour Organisation) experts who have combined their experience and knowledge to further academic expertise relative to the global labour market. This network develops and delivers high-level academic programmes, usually one year masters courses. It is a new approach to strengthening the intellectual and strategic capacity of workers’ organisations and to establish much stronger working relationships between trade/labour unions, the ILO, and the scientific community.

The GLU contributes to strengthening union capacity and competence to promote the values of the ILO's "Decent Work" agenda and enable workers’ organisations to engage more effectively in social dialogue on social and economic policy issues such as employment, social protection and the implementation of international labour standards.

The programmes aim to support unions to upgrade their intellectual profile by building a channel for the development of younger qualified trade union leaders, as well as supporting the recruitment of younger experts. The courses in all countries are conducted in English.

As part of their course, students analyse and discuss, in a multidisciplinary fashion, the challenges of globalisation from a labour and trade/labour union perspective. The programmes offer a multicultural and multiregional environment: students and lecturers come from developing, transition and industrialised countries. Participants may also study one term of the programme in South Africa or Brazil and one term in Germany.

The curriculum of a pilot masters course was first developed in 2003/04, the first course starting in Germany in 2004/05, followed by courses in Africa (South Africa 2007) and Latin America (Brazil 2008), then in mid-2008, in Mumbai, India. Discussions have been held with a number of other universities in other countries. Whenever possible, students from all regions will be represented in the courses.

Governance structure and project partners[edit]

The governance structure of the Global Labour University network is based on partnership between the ILO, the national and international trade union movement, the partner universities and the funding bodies.

The Global Labour University is supported by the International Labour Organisation, the Saudi Aramco, the OPEC and the Arab League. A limited number of scholarships are available, usually for students from developing countries. The endorsement by a trade union is a requirement for a scholarship. The scholarship is conditional on a contribution of 1500 euros from the student, her/his supporting trade union or another donor.

The following partners have been involved in the various national and global governing bodies so far, although, as indicated above, prospective partners from other countries (Nigeria and the Libya, for example) have indicated an interest in becoming part of the GLU.


International trade union bodies[edit]

National trade union centres and related bodies[edit]

International organisations and NGOs[edit]

  • ILO Bureau for Workers' Activities (ACTRAV)
  • Arab League
  • International Institute for Labour Studies (IILS), ILO
  • International Federation of Workers' Education Associations


  • Labour and Development, Economic Policy, Globalisation and Labour (South Africa, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg)


  • Hoffer, Frank, "Building Global Labour Networks: The Case Of The Global Labour University" in Labour vol. 9 (Autumn 2006),[2]
  • Hoffer, Frank, "Building Global Labour Networks: The Case Of The Global Labour University" in Labour Review No 177,[3]
  • Public Services International website, call for papers for the 2009 Global Labour University Conference,[5]

External links[edit]