There are ten international union confederations, each of them focusing on a particular economic sector. UNI Global Union comprises 900 national service-sector unions, representing over 20 million workers.
UNI deals with workplace relations matters at the United Nations level hence it is headquartered near the International Labour Organization offices in Switzerland.
UNI sees the way forward as negotiating agreements with multi-national companies. It’s the same principle seen on the shop floor, but taken to the next level: A united workforce gets a better outcome in negotiations than one individual. It stands to reason that a united global workforce will get a better result than a local effort.
UNI is spearheading a push for something called Global Framework Agreements. These are commitments made by multi-national companies that they will observe certain minimum standards in all the countries that they operate, including:
· Recognising the right to bargain collectively
· Recognising the right to join a union
· Not discriminating in employment
· Observing decent working conditions
These agreements do not set wages; those are negotiated at the national or local level.
By early 2010, 36 Global Framework Agreements had been signed with multinationals including Ikea and the Accor Hotels group. More are on the way. The beginning of things to come?
- See also: ‘Global Unions, Global Business’ book about the union confederations, available on Amazon.com