International Trade Union Confederation

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ITUC logo
Full name International Trade Union Confederation
Founded 1 November 2006
Members 176 million in 162 countries (2015)
Key people
Office location Brussels, Belgium
Country International

The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), (Confédération syndicale internationale (CSI)), (Internationaler Gewerkschaftsbund (IGB)) is the world's largest trade union federation. It was formed on November 1, 2006 out of the merger of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) and the World Confederation of Labour (WCL). The Founding Congress of the ITUC was held in Vienna and was preceded by the dissolution congresses of both the ICFTU and the WCL.

The ITUC represents 176 million workers through its 328 affiliated organisations within 162 countries and territories. Sharan Burrow is the current General Secretary.[1]

The ITUC traces its origins back to the First International (also known as the International Workingmen's Association) and in 2014 will commemorate the 150th anniversary of the founding of the International Working Men's Association at its own world congress to be held in Berlin (Eric Lee founding editor, LabourStart, 2013). Also in 2014, the ITUC debuted the Global Rights Index, which ranks nations on 97 metrics pertaining to workers' rights, such as freedom from violent conditions and the right to strike and unionize.[2]

Inaugural congress 2006[edit]

The founding congress of the ITUC was held on 1–3 November 2006 in Vienna, Austria.

The first day of the congress saw the formal creation of the ITUC followed by an address[3] by Juan Somavia, the Director-General of the International Labour Organization (ILO).

ITUC and ILO have very close relationship between each other; also ITUC has its office in ILO building in Geneva. In past ILO fired about 600 employees in an effort to save cost, however ITUC did not raise the issue in return for maintaining its funding.[4] ITUC as an organization seems less concerned for the migrant workers, as in a report they disclosed the photos and names of the migrant workers without keeping on mind their personal safety [5]

Day two included Pascal Lamy, the Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO) responding to panel discussions on the impact of globalization, including the topics "Cohesion and chaos - the global institutions" and "Global unions - global companies". Technical difficulties limited Lamy's satellite video link participation.

Leadership and officers were elected on the final day of the congress. Guy Ryder, the former general secretary of the ICFTU, was elected to the same position in the new organization.[6] Sharan Burrow was elected president.[7] A Governing Council was established, with 70 elected members, and 8 additional seats reserved for youth and women’s representatives.

A Council of Global Unions was also formed on the final day of the congress. It was established jointly with the Global Union Federations and the Trade Union Advisory Committee to the OECD (TUAC).

"The Council will enable us to mobilize global membership around political and strategic initiatives and actions in order to confront global forces that work against the interests of working people and families." − Guy Ryder.[8]

Second congress 2010[edit]

The second congress of the ITUC was held on 21–25 June 2010 in Vancouver, Canada.

On 25 June 2010, at the conclusion of the congress, Sharan Burrow (then ITUC President) was elected General Secretary, succeeding Guy Ryder (who had been elected as Deputy Director General of the International Labour Organisation).[9] In anticipation of her election, Burrow had resigned from her position as President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions effective 1 July 2010.[10]

Speaking to the Congress after her election, Burrow paid tribute to her predecessor and emphasised the continuing role of organised labour in the world's emergence from the Global Financial Crisis. She also made special mention of the significance of her election as the first female leader of the world's largest trade union (against a background of high workforce participation by women and a Congress 50% of whose delegates were women[11]):

"I am a warrior for woman and we still have work to ensure the inclusion of women in the work place and in our unions. The struggles for women are multiple – too often within their families for independence, then in the workplace for rights and equal opportunity, in their unions for access and representation and then as union leaders. But the investment in and participation of women is not only a moral mandate it is an investment in democracy and a bulwark against fundamentalism and oppression. Organising woman is and must continue to be a priority for the ITUC." − Sharan Burrow.[12]


Countries in light blue have an ITUC affiliate

The Pan-European Regional Council (PERC), a European trade union organization within the ITUC was formed March 19, 2007. It consists of 87 national trade union centres and a total membership of 87 million. It works closely with the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC), and Bernadette Ségol is currently the general secretary of both organizations.

See also[edit]


  • Fabio BERTINI, Gilliatt e la piovra. Il sindacalismo internazionale dalle origini ad oggi (1776-2006), Roma, Aracne, 2011
  • Ed Mustill, THE GGLOBAL LABOUR MOVEMENT: AN INTRODUCTION a short guide to the global union federations, the ITUC, and other international bodies (2013)


External links[edit]

Media related to CSI Member at Wikimedia Commons