Congress resolution on the future of the ITUC “Respect the Rules – Change the Practices”


Enhancing the democratic structures of the ITUC to assure a united, inclusive and effective global trade union organization, which respects the diversity of its members and creates an environment of trust, commitment and confidence for all affiliates in all regions – from the largest to the smallest – these are the objectives of the ITUC.

1. Respect for internal rules and trade union democracy
The ITUC shall reflect the needs and concerns of its affiliates in areas of its competence and lead strong coordinated efforts on global solidarity issues. A collective and coherent approach of all elected leaders (All General and Deputy General Secretaries, as well as President and Deputy Presidents) and respect of all the provisions of the ITUC constitution is critical for reaching the best response for global challenges.

There needs to be respect for the democratically elected, constitutional bodies of the ITUC. The General Council as the highest decision making body between congresses should function as platform for debate and political decision-making. The Secretariat shall prepare and distribute adequate information and policy papers, which outline the different points of view of members and possible options as well as their financial implications.

This allows the General Council to have informed discussions and adopt decisions on specific issues in a consensual way to guide the work of the ITUC Secretariat. Networks and working groups on major priority issues shall improve the quality of policy outcome and the effectiveness of activities. It will further allow smaller affiliates to engage in substantive discussions relevant to them. The evaluation of projects and activities shall happen on a regular base and in an objective manner.

Executive Bureau meetings shall take the form of physical, not virtual meetings.

In case of urgent matters in between General Council meetings, the ITUC secretariat shall consult with members of the General Council and act in close cooperation with the regional structures of the ITUC. Any decision taken by the Secretariat must respect the ITUC policy framework and should be justified, transparent and accountable.

Those affiliates not forming part of the General Council shall receive transparent, complete and timely information on all decisions taken at the General Council.

2. Transparency and accountability in the financial and administrative management
Decisions need to be made prior to financial commitments and spending, particularly in case of large and long-term expenditures. Many trade unions live through financially difficult times, which requires prudence in choosing priorities and expenditures of all funds.

There needs to be clarity in the administrative structure and human resource management of the organization (staff organigram), outlining the functions and thematic areas of work.

3. Strengthening of trade unions specific strategies
At the core of trade union activities lies the fight for international labour standards, particularly the right to freedom of association and collective bargaining and free, independent, democratic and representative trade unionism all over the world as well as promoting full employment, decent work and social and labour protection for all workers, in particular the most vulnerable categories of workers through coordinated efforts to strengthen collective bargaining practice.

This requires creative, new and strong campaign tools and networking capacities with ITUC affiliates in order to reinvigorate the denunciation of workers’ and trade union rights violations when- and wherever they occur. A critical component in this regard is a strong network of cooperation for direct solidarity with and between ITUC affiliates to support trade unions under repression and in a “context of risk”, calling all members and ITUC Departments to build a specific and coordinated strategy case by case.

The Human and Trade Union Rights Committee should play a more visible and significant role in elaborating strategies. Equally, the yearly trade union rights report deserves a more prominent role. Within the global governance system, the ILO has a central role and the aim should be to make full use of the potential of this normative tripartite UN agency in addressing the real concerns of trade unions.

Advocacy and communication are important tools but need to be based on a trade union strategy and the mobilisation of national centres and union members in order to be effective.

In the context of a global social dialogue, we are not only a “voice” but also a social partner, able to develop concrete proposals and ready to take on our responsibilities. Thus, a deliberative structure should be set up for this purpose within the ITUC.

4. Strong cooperation within the international trade union movement (ITUC headquarters, ITUC Regions, GUFs, and TUAC) and with national centres
The ITUC must be in the driving seat to assist affiliates in lobbying their government and parliament on key global trade union issues. This requires a clear division of labour between the different actors to facilitate trust and cooperation. Recognising such divisions and respecting clear boundaries, defined by respective mandates, legitimacy and effectiveness are preconditions. An example is organizing, which is an extremely important issue for each actor but the tasks are not the same for everyone.

A special focus is the division of labour and tasks between ITUC headquarters and ITUC Regions in alignment with the Constitution and consequently on budgeting issues. The regions are the level of the organisation, where affiliates relate the easiest to the global movement. Therefore, enhancing the role of the regional organisations, particularly in guaranteeing the involvement and information of every affiliates, increases ownership at the global level.
The ITUC and its regional organisations could also develop a more effective and cohesive policy in seeking to influence decision-making bodies of regional entities.

Based on a clear division of labour between the ITUC and the GUFs and regular coordination a stronger cooperation shall be established. While industrial action and company campaigns are primarily a task of the GUFs, the ITUC shall utilise their experiences to lobby on a political level. This better cooperation shall determine significant improvements in the coordinated capacity of the global trade union movement to address issues like global value chains, the digitalization of economy and international trade and development.

5. Cooperation and alliances with civil society organisations (NGOs and social movements)
Any cooperation and alliances with civil society organisations needs to be based on common objectives, shared values and in full respect of competencies and the different nature of the parties should be facilitated.
6. New approach regarding the international institutions and the global governance system

Regarding the ILO, the ITUC must use the full potential of combining human rights of workers, including the right to strike, with standards setting and supervisory mechanisms in the defence, promotion and development of labour standards. This entails the development of new standards, promotion of new spaces for social dialogue and collective bargaining, a better utilisation of the supervisory mechanisms and enhancement of their authority at national and regional levels.

There needs to be full transparency, accountability, inclusiveness and extensive discussions of the ITUC and Workers’ Group positions and activities inside the ILO and stronger cooperation and coherence with the ACTRAV activities.

The dialogue with the IFIs (World Bank and IMF), WTO, UN, and G20 shall aim for building influence on critical issues, while considering the need for a complementary cohesive strategy between the ITUC and the other members of the trade union movement. The provision of useful, understandable information is the baseline to develop an independent capacity to elaborate strategies and clear trade union objectives and to enable member organisations to be involved in the elaboration of strategies and mobilise on international economic issues in order to be more effective in influencing both national governments and these international institutions.

In cooperation and with respect for the division of labour with TUAC, the ITUC should take full advantage of the work of the OECD, to make use of information and policy discussions beyond OECD member states.

Submitted by: CLC

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