MAC: Mines and Communities

Mining highlighted in report on the world's worst places for workers

Published by MAC on 2015-06-24
Source: International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC)

A vital new report by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) has ranked virtually every country in the world according to its government's observance - or - much more often - repression of workers' rights, and occurence of extra-judicial actions, including killings, exerted against them.

Only four states - all European - are given a "perfect score", denoting that any labour disputes were satisfactorily settled within the past year: Norway, Finland, the Netherlands and Austria.

But, among the ten countries demonstrating "clear negative trends" in their respect for workers' rights were another two European states - the United Kingdom and Spain.

The ITUC ranks ten states as "the world's worst" (in alphabetical order): Belarus, China, Colombia, Egypt, Guatemala, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arbia, Swaziland and the United Arab Emirates.

While most of the report is devoted to detailed examination of the plight of workers in agriculture, manufacturing and services, eleven countries are singled out for violations in the mining and metals sector: Mali, Swaziland, Zambia (First Quantum Minerals), Colombia (Drummond Coal), Mexico, Georgia, Russia, Turkey, Ukraine, Algeria, Iran and Mauritania.

The full report can be downloaded at:

ITUC Global Rights Index names world’s ten worst countries for workers

International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) press release

10 June 2015

The Gulf States are among the world’s worst countries for workers’ rights, while workers under European austerity measures endured the starkest deterioration of standards, according to the 2015 Global Rights Index.

The ITUC rights index ranks 141 countries against 97 internationally recognised indicators to assess where workers’ rights are best protected, in law and in practice.

“Workers in the Gulf States where the draconian ‘kafala’ system is widespread endure many of the violations which make the Middle East and North Africa the world’s worst region for fundamental rights at work,” said ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow.

“But in a worrying trend, European workers have witnessed the starkest deterioration of their rights in the last 12 months due to widespread government-imposed austerity measures taking effect.”

The International Trade Union Confederation has been collecting data on the abuse of trade union rights around the world for more than 30 years. This is the second year the ITUC has presented its findings through the Global Rights Index, offering a snapshot for government and business to see how their laws and supply chains have deteriorated or improved in the last 12 months.

The ten worst countries for working people are Belarus, China, Colombia, Egypt, Guatemala, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Swaziland and United Arab Emirates.

Other countries ranked lower but had worsening conditions this year in a clear negative trend for workers. These nations were Burundi, Dominican Republic, Hong Kong, Iran, Georgia, Russia, United Kingdom and Spain.

“Workers in Colombia and Guatemala have been murdered for trying to negotiate better working conditions, while in Qatar and Saudi Arabia migrants continue to endure forced labour and labour law exclusions which amount to modern slavery.

“In 73 of 141 countries, workers faced dismissals, suspensions, pay cuts and demotions for attempting to negotiate better working conditions, while in 84 countries employers adopted illegal strategies to deny or delay bargaining with representative trade unions.

“While a handful of countries have attained perfect scores compared to last year, there’s been an increase across the board in the number of countries where conditions have worsened, including nations such as Cameroon, Hungary, Spain and South Africa,” Ms Burrow said.

The reports key findings include:

“International labour standards prescribe access to fundamental rights for all workers,” Ms Burrow said. “Yet as corporate power and inequality grows internationally, these results show governments and employers in almost every country around the world must improve their treatment of workers and arrest the increase in workplace violations.”

The 2015 ITUC Global Rights Index rates countries from one to five according to 97 indicators, with an overall score placing countries in one to five rankings.

1. Irregular violations of rights: 16 countries including Finland & Uruguay
2. Repeated violations of rights: 26 countries including Japan & Ireland
3. Regular violations of rights: 36 countries including Israel & Australia
4. Systematic violations of rights: 27 countries including Poland & USA
5. No guarantee of rights: 27 countries including Belarus, China & Nigeria
5+ No guarantee of rights due to breakdown of the rule of law: nine countries including Syria, Central African Republic & Palestine


Read the report – ITUC Global Rights Index: The worst places in the world for workers.

Download the ITUC Global Rights Index map.

Download the ITUC Global Rights Index infographics.


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