In a globalised economy, effective representation of the interests of employees can no longer take place merely within national borders. Trade unions recognised this many years ago and have established sectoral or company trade union networks. These are aimed at giving trade unions more power and forcing transnational companies to guarantee employee rights at all production sites. The large number of concluded international framework agreements, transnational social dialogue or new forms of binding agreements like the Bangladesh Accord, which seeks to improve occupational safety of workers in the textile factories in that country, demonstrate that workers' rights have to be and successfully can be fought for. The FES’ Global Trade Union Project is supporting a host of initiatives by global unions to set up networks of this type, in this manner ensuring that the interests of employees are defended and represented in the Global North and South.
Because ever larger areas of product development, production, transport and marketing are being organised in value-creation chains, trade unions face the challenge of representing the interests of employees within and beyond sectoral and traditional boundaries of individual trade union jurisdiction. This encompasses finding new regulatory policies that prescribe, e.g., the responsibility (“due diligence”) of companies in their value chain. In this context, trade unions are challenged to find new cooperative arrangements among themselves and with other societal actors to identify and exercise the leverage they have. The FES encourages and fosters conceptual work in this area, creating space for the dialogue between trade unions while supporting the articulation of interests in international forums.