2021 ITUC Global Rights Index: The world’s worst countries for workers

Abuses of the right to strike, the right to establish and join a trade union, the right to trade union activities and civil liberties and the right to free speech and assembly are at an eight -year high, according to the ITUC’s annual Global Rights Index. Governments and employers have exploited the pandemic to dismiss workers who exposed vital information about the spread of the virus in workplaces; violated collective bargaining rights; increased surveillance of workers and undermined the right to privacy; and restricted free speech and assembly.


The ten worst countries for working people in 2021 are Bangladesh, Belarus, Brazil, Colombia, Egypt, Honduras, Myanmar, the Philippines, Turkey and Zimbabwe.


The Middle East and North Africa is the worst region in the world for working people for eight years running. Libya, Palestine, Syria and Yemen were still beset with conflict, and fundamental liberties and rights in those countries were trampled.


The COVID-19 pandemic has devastated jobs, communities and lives. Governments and employers have exploited the pandemic to dismiss workers who exposed vital information about the spread of the virus in workplaces; violated collective bargaining rights; increased surveillance of workers and undermined the right to privacy; and restricted free speech and assembly.


The 2021 Global Rights Index documents a shameful roll call of governments and companies who have pursued an anti-union agenda in the face of workers who have stood on the front line providing essential work to keep economies and communities functioning.


The eighth edition of the ITUC Global Rights Index ranks 149 countries on the degree of respect for workers’ rights. Key findings include:

  • 87 per cent of countries violated the right to strike.

  • 79 per cent of countries violated the right to collectively bargain.

  • 74 per cent of countries excluded workers from the right to establish and join a trade union.

  • The number of countries that impeded the registration of unions increased from 89 in 2020 to 109 in 2021.

  • Two new countries entered the list of ten worst countries for workers (Belarus and Myanmar).

  • The number of countries which denied or constrained freedom of speech increased from 56 in 2020 to 64 in 2021.

  • Workers were exposed to violence in 45 countries.

  • Workers had no or restricted access to justice in 65 per cent of countries.

  • Workers experienced arbitrary arrests and detention in 68 countries.

  • Trade unionists were murdered in six countries: Brazil, Colombia, Guatemala, Myanmar, Nigeria and the Philippines.

View the interactive 2021 Global Rights Index at www.globalrightsindex.org in English, French, German and Spanish.


Read the Executive Summary of the 2021 ITUC Global Rights Index in English, French, German, Russian and Spanish.


Watch the 2021 Global Rights Index videos in English, French, German and Spanish.

Download the 2021 Global Rights Index infographics in English, French, German and Spanish.



Source: ITUC