Global Unions

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Global Unions or Council of Global Unions is a website, which is jointly owned and managed by the International Trade Union Confederation, ITUC, the Trade Union Advisory Committee to the OECD and ten global union federations.

The Council of Global Unions (CGU) held its inaugural meeting in Brussels, 9–10 January 2007. All GUF’s, with the exception of the International Metalworkers’ Federation, as well as TUAC, became members of the Council and signed the agreement.

The CGU was created to encourage closer co-operation among Global Unions in order to act more effectively at the international level to build a more favourable, enabling environment for organising and collective bargaining. Although its work has policy implications, it was not established to make policy. That is the responsibility of the organisations that constitute the CGU.

The Global Unions group is made up of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), which has 175 million members in 151 countries; the Global Union Federations (GUFs), which represent their respective sectors at the international trade union level (BWI, EI, IAEA, ICEM, IFJ, IMF, ITF, ITGLWF, IUF, PSI and UNI); and the Trade Union Advisory Committee (TUAC) to the OECD.

In November 2006 two international union organizations were created, the ITUC and the Council of Global Unions that emerged from a reorganization of the international trade union movement (which was divided because of post-war divisions). ITUC is the result of the break up of both the WCL and ICFTU for the purposes of uniting under one organisation (ITUC). The Council of Global Unions was created at the first meeting of ITUC and is a body involving the GUFs, ITUC, and TUAC.

Although Global Unions are described as ‘global’, this represents more an “aspiration than a reality since they are more accurately described as international bodies with wide coverage that are ‘globalising’" (Croucher and Cotton, 2009). Historically, they have built outwards from their European bases in an attempt to include unions in other regions and are still trying to extend their coverage to every country where unions are found.

According to Harold Lewis (2003) the Global Union Federations are responsible for 80 per cent of the international movement’s activity and 90 per cent of its work directly affecting workplaces.

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