International Trade Union Policy

No democracy without trade unions

If our aim is to promote Social Democracy worldwide, then we must first strengthen unions. Through them, employees can shape society economically, socially and politically –ultimately aiming for decent work and social justice. We support advocacy groups that serve formal and informal employees in becoming more representative, democratic and independent. For this is the prerequisite for a successful mobilisation of their power resources, both locally and across state borders.

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Head of Project

Mirko Herberg

+49 (0)30 26935-7458

Marc Meinardus

+49 (0)30 26935-7744


Contact persons for specific requests


The Competence Centre on the Future of Work addresses multidimensional aspects of the work itself by focusing on three thematic pillars: Responsible digitalsiation, New Forms of Work and New Technologies at the work place. For more information about our Centre click here.

News and publications on international trade union policy

Montage eines Autos durch zwei Arbeiter im Globalen Süden

Trade Union Perspectives from South Africa, Ghana and Kenya on the German Supply Chain Due Diligence Act


What opportunities does the Supply Chain Act provide for trade unions to protect workers’ rights in Africa? A study provides insights.

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Reiner Hoffmann and two other trade unionists present the study result at an an FES side event at the ETUC Congress in Berlin. They sit next to each other at a table.

Trade unions and right-wing populism in Europe


At an FES fringe event at the ETUC Congress in Berlin, trade unionists discuss the results of the study on “Trade Unions and Right-Wing Populism in...

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Panel 2

Fair Work in Europe - Transnational structures for good and safe work


Trade unions discuss approaches to support cross-border labour mobility and to combat wage and social dumping at European level.

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A New Industrial and Competition Policy for Europe


German and European trade unions discuss their common understanding and their political demands for overcoming the current crises in Europe.

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European Trade Union Dialogue

A central prerequisite for a social Europe are jobs from which people can actually live well. Strong and future-oriented trade unions are the best guarantee that competitiveness, social justice and fair incomes are harmonized

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More news can be found here.

Making trade unions viable in the future

The Power Resources Tool Kit has been designed to take specific problems that workers and unions are facing and turn them into collective action and workable plans. It has been created to help build worker and union power. more

Digitalisation of Work and Unions

A repository of articles, reports, tools and guides related to the digitalisation of work and union transformation. more

Transnational representation of interests

In a globalised economy, effective representation of the interests of employees can no longer take place merely within national borders. more

Trade Unions in Transformation

Our project “Trade Unions in Transformation” shifts the narrative about trade unions. Moving away from the standard depiction of unions as victims of globalization, we highlight ... more

International economic and social policy

The world economic crisis has fuelled the global debate over a comprehensive change in the factors shaping the process of economic globalisation. more

International labour and social standards

Based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Labor Organization (ILO)... more

How the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung approaches international trade union work

Trade union representation is a fundamental democratic right. It provides a relevant section of the population with the means to help shape the economic, social and political future of society around decent working conditions and social justice. Without trade unions there can be no social democracy!

Our international trade union work fosters social democracy worldwide. We act in close coordination with the unions affiliated to the German Confederation of Trade Unions (Deutscher Gewerkschaftsbund - DGB). For the global trade union movement, our foundation is a unique partner, thanks to decades of experience and a worldwide network of field offices.

Our work helps trade union positions contribute to political and economical decision-making. This applies both within the countries where we operate, and at regional and global levels.

Trade unions, works councils and other structures for the defence of employee interests in the workplace can only function successfully when 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.

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