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UNI Global Union

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UNI global union
Union Network International global union
FoundedJanuary 1, 2000
HeadquartersNyon, Switzerland
  • International
20 million
Key people
Ruben Cortina, President
Christy Hoffman, General Secretary

UNI Global Union, formally Union Network International (UNI), is a Global Union Federation for the skills and services sectors, uniting national and regional trade unions. It has affiliated unions in 150 countries representing 20 million workers. The Global headquarters is in Nyon, Switzerland. UNI Global Union ratified over 50 Global Framework Agreements with multinational corporations including ABN AMRO, Carrefour, H&M, DHL, Telefonica,BNP Orangeand Banco de Brazil,Inditex Group, Kimberly Clark among others[1][2] as of 2021.[3]


UNI was the result of the merger of four organisations: International Federation of Commercial, Clerical, Professional and Technical Employees (FIET), Media and Entertainment International (MEI), International Graphical Federation (IGF), and Communications International (CI). They merged on 1 January 2000, to form Union Network International. On 2 March 2009, the federation changed its name to UNI Global Union.

International Federation of Commercial, Clerical, Professional and Technical Employees (FIET)[edit]

The first attempt to create an international federation of clerical workers was the International Commercial Employees' Secretariat, founded in Hamburg in 1909 and led by Edo Fimmen. This organization collapsed at the start of World War I, leading to the establishment of FIET in 1921 in Vienna. Initially, FIET represented only European unions, but after World War II, it began admitting unions from around the world. By 1994, FIET's membership had reached 11 million. FIET predominantly represented workers in banking, insurance, and clerical staff in commerce and social services. In 1984, the International Secretariat of Entertainment Trade Unions became an autonomous section of FIET.[4][5][6]

Media and Entertainment International (MEI)[edit]

MEI was a global union federation representing workers in the arts, established in 1993 through the merger of the International Secretariat of Arts, Communications, Media and Entertainment Trade Unions and the International Federation of Trade Unions of Audio-Visual Workers. Initially named the International Secretariat for Arts, Mass Media, and Entertainment Trade Unions (ISAMMETU), it was renamed MEI in 1995. MEI campaigned for public service broadcasting and minimum working conditions for freelance film and theatre workers. On 1 January 2000, MEI merged with FIET, IGF, and CI to form Union Network International.[7][8][9]

International Graphical Federation (IGF)[edit]

The IGF was a global union federation for printing workers. Efforts to establish this federation began in 1939, but it was officially founded in 1949 in Stockholm after World War II delayed its formation. The IGF focused on technical developments in the industry and sharing information on industrial disputes and employment standards. The federation operated on a non-political basis and had three boards covering typography, lithography, and bookbinding. By the end of 1999, the IGF merged with FIET, CI, and MEI to form Union Network International.[10][11][12][13][14]

Communications International (CI)[edit]

The Postal, Telegraph and Telephone International (PTTI) was the precursor to Communications International (CI). Founded in 1920 in Milan, it initially consisted of European unions but expanded globally after World War II. By 1994, it had four million members from various continents. Recognizing the importance of new forms of communication, the federation renamed itself as Communications International in 1997. At the end of 1999, CI merged with FIET, IGF, and MEI to form Union Network International.[15][16][17]

Global Agreements[edit]

Societe Generale Agreement[edit]

In 2023, UNI Global Union renewed its global agreement with Societe Generale. This new three-year agreement, building on previous accords from 2015 and 2019, includes enhanced commitments to combat discrimination, foster a safe working environment, and uphold workers' rights to freedom of association. The agreement covers 147,000 employees across 67 countries, emphasizing the bank's dedication to human rights and social dialogue.[18]

Carrefour Agreement[edit]

In October 2022, UNI Global Union reinforced its global framework agreement with Carrefour. This agreement, which extends until October 2025, focuses on promoting social dialogue, protecting workers from discrimination, and implementing ILO Convention 190 on eliminating violence and harassment in the workplace. The renewed agreement has been pivotal in securing better working conditions and union recognition in countries such as Argentina, Colombia, Korea, Romania, and Turkey.[19]

Global Agreement with Teleperformance[edit]

In December 2023, UNI Global Union celebrated the first anniversary of its global agreement with Teleperformance. This landmark agreement covers nearly 500,000 employees in 95 countries and focuses on improving workers' rights and health and safety conditions. Implementation has begun in countries such as Colombia, El Salvador, Jamaica, Poland, and Romania.[20]

Campaigns and Labor Actions[edit]

Amazon Labor Unrest[edit]

In January 2024, UNI Global Union coordinated strikes and protests across Amazon facilities globally, highlighting significant labor unrest. This included a major strike at Amazon's Birmingham warehouse, marking the anniversary of the UK's first Amazon protest. The strikes reflect widespread discontent with Amazon's labor practices, particularly concerning intrusive performance monitoring and adverse working conditions.[21]

Campaign for Essential Workers[edit]

During the COVID-19 pandemic, UNI Global Union launched a campaign to support essential workers. This included securing agreements to improve working conditions and advocating for better health and safety measures across various sectors.[22]

Support for RWJ Hospital Nurses[edit]

During the UNI Global Union Congress in Philadelphia in August 2023, a delegation of 38 workers from 16 countries joined the picket line of Local 4-200 nurses at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital. This international solidarity was part of a broader effort to advocate for safe staffing levels and better working conditions for healthcare workers.[23]

International Campaigns for Worker Safety[edit]

In 2024, UNI Global Union and IndustriALL Global Union called on Amazon to sign the International Accord for Health and Safety in the Textile and Garment Industry. This campaign aims to ensure that Amazon commits to the same safety standards that other brands have implemented following the Rana Plaza collapse in Bangladesh.[24]

Campaign for Respect at Work in Ireland[edit]

Around International Workers' Day in 2024, UNI Global Union supported the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) in launching Ireland's first-ever Trade Union Week. This campaign aimed to mobilize trade union members and improve workers' rights across Ireland, addressing issues such as low pay and weak worker protection laws.[25]

Remote Work Rights[edit]

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, UNI Global Union released a set of principles to support collective bargaining for remote workers’ rights in February 2021. These principles focus on ensuring labor protections, restricting surveillance, guaranteeing the right to disconnect, and addressing work-life balance issues.[26]

Right to Disconnect Campaign[edit]

UNI Global Union has launched a global campaign to help workers reclaim their right to disconnect from their jobs. This campaign, supported by detailed guidelines for negotiating disconnection terms, aims to combat the anxiety, depression, and burnout associated with constant connectivity. Agreements have already been secured with major companies like Telefonica and Orange.[27]

Peace Initiatives[edit]

UNI Global Union continues its commitment to building peace, as demonstrated in its engagement with the peace movement in Nagasaki. This initiative highlights the union's dedication to social justice and its belief that there can be no peace without justice. The campaign includes working with organizations like ICAN and IPB to promote nuclear disarmament and peaceful resolutions to conflicts.[28]

IKEA Group Dispute[edit]

In July 2023, the Dutch National Contact Point published the final statement on the dispute between UNI Global Union and IKEA Group. The dispute centered on workers' freedom of association in IKEA’s operations in Ireland, Portugal, and the USA. The process facilitated by the NCP led to agreements in Portugal but not in the USA or Ireland. The final statement included recommendations for improving labor relations and ensuring the right to organize.[29]


General secretaries[edit]

2000: Philip Jennings
2018: Christy Hoffman


2000: Kurt van Haaren
2001: Maj-Len Remahl
2003: Joseph T. Hansen
2010: Joe de Bruyn
2014: Ann Selin
2018: Ruben Cortina
2023: Gerard Dwyer[30]


  1. ^ "Global Agreements Archive". UNI Global Union.
  2. ^ "Example in Action: UNI Global Union Negotiates IFA Collective Bargaining Agreements with Multinational Companies to Meet Workers' Needs". Department of Labor. Retrieved 30 May 2024.
  3. ^ Platzer, Hans-Wolfgang; Rüb, Stefan (2014). International framework agreements : an instrument for enforcing social human rights?. Berlin: Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung. ISBN 978-3-86498-758-8. OCLC 915399297.
  4. ^ Docherty, James C.; van der Velden, Sjaak (2012). Historical Dictionary of Organized Labor. Scarecrow Press. pp. 101, 180. ISBN 0810879883.
  5. ^ "Fédération internationale des employés, techniciens et cadres (FIET)". Open Yearbook. UIA. Retrieved 9 May 2018.
  6. ^ "FAQs". UNI Global Union. Retrieved 9 May 2018.
  7. ^ Docherty, James C.; van der Velden, Sjaak (2012). Historical Dictionary of Organized Labor. Scarecrow Press. p. 180. ISBN 0810879883.
  8. ^ Gordon, Michael E.; Turner, Lowell (2000). Transnational Cooperation Among Labor Unions. Cornell Press. pp. 174–175, 296. ISBN 0801437792.
  9. ^ "FAQs". UNI Global Union. Retrieved 9 May 2018.
  10. ^ Docherty, James C.; van der Velden, Sjaak (2012). Historical Dictionary of Organized Labor. Scarecrow Press. p. 143. ISBN 978-0810879881.
  11. ^ "International Graphical Federation (IGF)". Open Yearbook. UIA. Retrieved 9 May 2018.
  12. ^ Bain, Peter; Gennard, John (2005). A History of the Society of Graphical and Allied Trades. Routledge. pp. 269–270. ISBN 1134790902.
  13. ^ "International Graphical Federation Archives". International Institute of Social History. Retrieved 9 May 2018.
  14. ^ Windmuller, John (1979). The Shape of Transnational Unionism: International Trade Secretariats. United States Bureau of International Labor Affairs. p. 41.
  15. ^ Docherty, James C.; van der Velden, Sjaak (2012). Historical Dictionary of Organized Labor. Scarecrow Press. p. 214. ISBN 978-0810879881.
  16. ^ "FAQs". UNI Global Union. Retrieved 9 May 2018.
  17. ^ "Affiliates". Archived from the original on 25 May 1998. Retrieved 27 November 2019.
  18. ^ "Societe Generale Press Release".
  19. ^ "UNI Europa News".
  20. ^ "UNI Global Union News".
  21. ^ "UNI Europa News".
  22. ^ "UNI Global Union News".
  23. ^ "United Steelworkers News".
  24. ^ "IndustriALL Global Union".
  25. ^ "UNI Europa".
  26. ^ "UNI Europa".
  27. ^ "Future World of Work". 23 March 2024.
  28. ^ "UNI Global Union News".
  29. ^ "OECD Guidelines".
  30. ^ "Australia's Gerard Dwyer elected President of UNI Global Union". UNI Global Union. 31 August 2023.

External links[edit]