The world’s worst countries for workers

By DON McINTOSH

Every year, the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC)—a global federation of unions—calls attention to workers rights by rating countries on a scale from 1 to 5 based on their record, with 1 being the best rating and 5 the worst. Each country is analyzed based on how well they comply with International Labour Organization conventions — international agreements that recognize workers rights and commit to protect them. Those rights include bans on forced labor and child labor, and the right to form unions and engage in collective bargaining.

There’s bad news: The global trend has been toward MORE workers rights violations in recent years.

According to the 2022 report, in the last year, workers experienced arbitrary arrests and detentions in 69 countries. Union leaders were prosecuted for strikes in Belarus, Egypt, India and the Philippines. Strikes to oppose military rule faced brutal repression in Sudan and Myanmar. Guatemala continued to be the site of endemic anti-union violence, along with impunity for the perpetrators. And trade unionists were killed in 13 countries: Bangladesh, Colombia, Ecuador, Eswatini, Guatemala, Haiti, India, Iraq, Italy, Lesotho, Myanmar, the Philippines and South Africa.

Here’s a partial list of how countries were ranked by ITUC:

Nine countries were rated the best in the world for workers rights—rated “1”— with only “sporadic” rights violations: Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark, Iceland, Germany, Austria, Italy, and Ireland.

Next best, rated 2, “repeated violations of rights” are 27 countries, including Japan, New Zealand, France, Spain, Portugal, Israel, but also Congo, Ghana, Malawi, and Namibia.

Rated 3, for “regular violations of rights” were 29 countries, including Canada, Mexico, United Kingdom, Belgium, Poland, South Africa, Argentina, Bolivia, and El Salvador.

The United States? Sorry. It’s rated 4, “systematic violations of rights” along with 38 other countries, including Venezuela, Vietnam, Peru, Australia, Chile, Greece, Saudi Arabia, and much of Africa. 

Only 44 countries were worse, rated 5, including Somalia, Libya, Syria, Turkey, Guatemala, Bangladesh, Brazil, Philippines.

THE 9 BEST COUNTRIES FOR WORKERS

  • Sweden
  • Norway
  • Finland
  • Denmark
  • Iceland
  • Germany
  • Austria
  • Italy
  • Ireland

THE 10 WORST COUNTRIES FOR WORKERS

  • Bangladesh 
  • Belarus
  • Brazil
  • Colombia
  • Egypt
  • Eswatini
  • Guatemala
  • Myanmar
  • Philippines
  • Turkey

MORE: See ITUC’s 62-page report at https://www.globalrightsindex.org/en/2022

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