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FES / International trade union policy

The international trade union policy of the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung

No social democracy without trade unions

The Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) sees strengthening the representation of employees through their trade unions as an integral component of its efforts towards advancing social democracy around the world. Trade unions, works councils and other structures of workplace representation can only function successfully if they are representative, democratic, independent, competent and effective. The Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung has made helping trade union organisations to achieve this one of its core tasks.

The FES applies its trade union policies at three mutually aligned levels: nationally via approximately 100 country offices around the world, regionally via supranational trade union programmes, e.g. for Latin America, Asia or South-East Europe, and globally via the Global Trade Union Project. Each level addresses specific issues and challenges. Read more

Trade Unions in Transformation-Project

Our most current project has been collecting around two dozen Case Studies of Trade Unions successfully gaining strength from around the world. In many countries, Trade Unions have achieved remarkable successes. Some are already consolidated, others are still in phases of struggle, whilst some have already gained enough strength to now embark on new campaigns. As a conceptual framework, all case studies use the Power Resources Approach. more

L20 Summit: Jobs and wages for growth!

Trade union leaders at the Labour 20 Summit in Beijing, China, have called on Labour and Employment Ministers to put the urgency for jobs and growth back on the agenda, with a focus on women and young people, as well as supporting social dialogue and collective bargaining.more


The Right to Strike Struck Down?
An Analysis on Recent Trends

The right to strike is under attack, not only at the ILO. The present survey identifies trends and patterns of restrictions and violations of the right to strike at national level. Identifying 41 new violations over the last 5 years in 21 out of 69 countries covered, the study confirms the global trend of securitizing politics and society, with fundamental rights at stake in many countries. Read more

© ITUCNo Gender Justice without Tax Justice

Putting the gender perspective on the international debate about tax justice was the objective of a PSI-FES workshop with the participation of leading trade union and NGO gender and tax experts in London, July 2016. Read more

TISA: "The really good friends of transnational corporations agreement" - a special report by Public Services International, PSI

The objective of this report is to help overcome the secrecy and complexity surrounding the TISA negotiations in order to bring the agreement into the public sphere for democratic debate. publication

© ITUCITUC Report on Violations of Trade Union Rights

This report points at key findings in 87 countries with a focus on seven countries where the existence of trade unions are under extreme risk: Burma, Bahrain, Fiji, Guatemala, Swaziland, Zimbabwe and Georgia.Read more

International Conference: ”Transnational Campaigning for Decent Work”,
Berlin, 5-6 October 2015

“Campaigns” are becoming more important for Trade Union success. The 2015 FES International Trade Union Conference “Transnational Campaigning (and Network Building) for Decent Work” provided a unique and timely space for a discussion on the state of the art of trade union campaigning.        more

© Screenshot BWINTWorldcup: BWINT campaign demands fair play

In 2014, Brazil hosted the Football World Cup. With around 30,000 workers involved in the construction of stadiums, hotels and infrastructure, the Building and Wood Workers' International has launched a video for its campaign to ensure decent work conditions for workers.Read more

© International Labour Organization/Dutta B. ILO survey: worldwide 52 million Domestic Workers

The number of persons working as Domestic Workers has increased considerably. Since 1995, there was an increase of more than 20 million people says the first report of its kind conducted by the International Labour Organization.Read more


FES Study
Production as a Service
by J. Sydow and M. Helfen, November 2016

ITUC Frontlines Briefing:
Climate Justice COP 22 Special edition
General Secretary Sharan Burrows
on the Paris Agreement (video)

FES Study:
The Right to Strike Struck Down?
An Analysis of Recent Trends

Edlira Xhafa, October 2016

Short versions available in:
- French,
- Spanish,
- Portuguese
, and
- German

FES International Policy Analysis:
Organising in and along Value Chains

Michael Fichter, August 2015
Portuguese version
Spanish Version

TUAC background paper:
The Role of Collective Bargaining as Part of a Comprehensive Strategy to Reduce Income Inequality
Mai 2015

The ITUC Global Rights Index 2016 pins the World's worst countries for workers
Read more on ITUC's website

Heiner Dribbusch, Peter Birke:
- The DGB trade unions since the crisis : developments, challenges, strategies
- Les syndicats du DGB depuis la crise : évolutions, défis, stratégies

- Los sindicatos de la DGB después de la crisis : desarrollo, desafíos, estrategias

Claudia Hofmann:
(The Right to) Strike and the ILO : is the system for monitoring labour and social standards in trouble?
(Derecho de) huelga en la OIT

Hans-Wolfgang Platzer, Stefan Rüb
International framework agreements : an instrument for enforcing social human rights?

Werner Sengenberger:
The International Labour Organization

We are excluded: case studies by the FES on youth unemployment in different European countries.

You can find other publications here


Trade Union Forum on Digitalisation: Key Recommendations & Outcomes of the Trade Union Forum on Digitalisation and the Future of Work,
February 2017, Paris

ENGAGE Programme: Union Rights, Policy and Practice: Training for Global Union Activists
March/April 2017, South Africa


The "Trade Union Rights Indicators" -
An initiative of the Global Labour University and the Center for Global Workers’ Rights at Penn State University. Read more

Global Labour University
The GLU reflects a global partnership. Teaching is at the heart of its work, with four M.A. degree courses offered on five continents. Read more

The OECD Guidelines for multinational enterprises
- recommendations on responsible business conduct. Trade unions have filed numerous complaints against multinational companies. The Trade Union Advisory Committee (TUAC) Information Portal, supported by the FES, provides information on these cases. Read more

An information system which brings together information on International Labour Standards as well as national labour and social security laws. Read more