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Thursday, 25 May, 2000, 01:36 GMT 02:36 UK
Workers' rights under threat - UN
SA strike
Not everyone around the world has the right to strike
By Clare Doole in Geneva

The United Nations has said that workers' rights are being flouted by governments around the world and eroded by the process of globalisation.

The UN's International Labour Organisation (ILO) says in a report that many countries are signing up to legislation on workers' rights and then ignoring it.

The ILO is calling on countries to honour their commitments to protect workers' rights.

Unions banned

Amongst the worst offenders are Oman, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, where trade unions are banned.

In Saudi Arabia, as in Liberia and Burma, there is also no legal right to strike.

In Latin America, there are no restrictions on the setting up of trade unions, but many trade unionists face intimidation, threats and even death.

The region is not alone: according to the ILO, allegations of arrests and physical assault on trade unionists in parts of Africa and Asia are rife.

It is not just in the developing world where workers rights are ignored.

Agricultural workers in the United States and firefighters in Japan and South Korea are not allowed to join a union, while solidarity strikes are restricted in Australia and Britain.

'Shaming' governments

The ILO says globalisation is hindering rather than helping workers' rights.

It has seriously reduced the impact of agreements between unions and employers which are usually struck locally, while the increase in the number of part-time and sub-contracted workers has made it more difficult to defend their interests.

In response to the critical report, the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) said it should shame governments into turning promises into reality.

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See also:

15 Feb 00 | South Asia
ILO warns against 'casino economy'
28 Mar 00 | Asia-Pacific
Burmese forced labour condemned
01 Jan 99 | Asia-Pacific
Chinese workers party 'launched'
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