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Home » Glossary » International Trade Union Confederation

International Trade Union Confederation


What is the International Trade Union Confederation?

The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) is the world’s largest and most prominent confederation of trade unions. In its own words, ITUC is “the global voice of the world’s working people.”

On November 1, 2006, ITUC’s Founding Congress convened in Vienna, Austria. The congress moved to merge two of the world’s then-leading union groups, the World Confederation of Labor (WCL) and the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU). The merging of the WCL and ICFTU led to the creation of ITUC.

ITUC’s foremost mission is to champion the rights and interests of the world’s workers. The confederation seeks to accomplish its mission through the international cooperation of trade unions and pushing its advocacies within the world’s leading institutions.

What is the International Trade Union Confederation?

What are ITUC’s mission and advocacies?

ITUC’s primary objective is advancing the rights and welfare of the world’s working class. Specifically, its areas of concern are the following:

The labor group defends trade unions and unionists against labor and fundamental human rights violations and takes legal action against these violations, particularly when they affect workers.

The confederation is not limited to participating in issues directly relating to labor and worker rights concerns but is also invested in migration, climate change, and sport and rights.

ITUC also stands by its four organizational pillars: 

  • peace, democracy, and rights
  • regulating economic power
  • global shifts – just transitions
  • equality

Since its founding in 2006, ITUC has actively participated in various social issues and has passed over 50 resolutions relating to labor, social, climate, and sustainable development issues.

ITUC’s members and affiliated organizations

ITUC has three regional bodies:

  • Asia-Pacific Regional Organization (ITUC-AP)
  • African Regional Association (ITUC-AF)
  • American Regional Association (TUCA)

A congress body convening every four years governs it, together with a General Council and an Executive Bureau.

The confederation and its regional bodies cooperate closely with the European Trade Union Confederation and the Pan-European Regional Council, as well as the International Labor Organization and several other Specialized Agencies of the United Nations.

ITUC also has ties with the Global Union Federations and the Trade Union Advisory Committee to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

As of 2018, ITUC lists 207 million members across 163 countries. The union group aims to increase this to 250 million by 2022.

ITUC’s members and affiliated organizations

Recent developments related to ITUC

  • In late April 2022, members of Belarus’ KGB arrested Alexandr Yaroshuk, ITUC’s top representative in Belarus, and other top labor leaders in a crackdown against “extremist” organizations.  ITUC, the European Trade Union Confederation, and Amnesty International have since demanded the release of  Yaroshuk and the other union leaders. Yashoruk’s Belarusian union, the Belarusian Congress of Democratic Trade Unions, was among several groups that the country’s government has dubbed “extremists.”
  • ITUC has helped in supporting Ukrainian workers and their families who have been affected by Russia’s invasion. The funds raised by the confederation’s fundraising efforts have been used to help local union groups bring on the ground help to Ukrainians.

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