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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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

Picture of Edward Webster

Tribute to Comrade Eddie Webster

In Memoriam - Professor Edward Webster, Comrade Eddie

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Panel beim FES-DGB-High Level Event auf der COP28 in Dubai

Society on Board

A socially just transition can only be social if trade unions in African countries are actively involved in transparent change processes.

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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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Trade unions and right-wing populism in Europe

The rise of right-wing populist movements and parties throughout Europe is not without consequences for trade unions. In a sequence of short country studies and an analysis based on them, trade union options for action are examined.

The studies are available for download here:


More news can be found here.

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

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

Power Resources Toolkit

The toolkit offers hands-on methods and exercises on how to use power resources in key union fields of action: Campaigning and Organising, Collective Bargaining, Organisational Transformation and Policy Advocacy. more

Trade Unions in Transformation

Our project “Trade Unions in Transformation” has researched how trade unions respond to strategic challenges of the new world of work. more

Unions and Digitalization

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