The Council of Global Unions (CGU) held its inaugural meeting in Brussels, 9-10 January 2007. Its creation was based on a consensus agreement that was ratified by Global Unions. It was not created as an organisation, but rather as a tool for structured cooperation and coordination. As of 2012, all GUF’s, the ITUC and TUAC are CGU members.
The CGU was intended to encourage and develop closer co-operation among Global Unions in order to build a more favourable, enabling environment for organising and collective bargaining. Although its work has policy implications, it was not established primarily to make policy. That is the responsibility of its members.
Although the process is coordinated by the ITUC and TUAC rather than the CGU secretariat, many statements, including to the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund or the G20 are developed jointly and issued in the name of “Global Unions”. Discussions of political/economic issues and trade union efforts to influence government policies play an important role in CGU meetings.
Meetings and structures
The CGU elects a Chair and a Vice Chair for two-year terms. The Secretary is the General Secretary of the ITUC. Together with the immediate past Chair, they constitute the Coordinating Committee. All member organisations are served by a Co-ordinator, who was selected by the Coordinating Committee. Information on the leadership team can be found below.
The CGU annual meeting in January of each year discusses issues of common interest, considers reports from CGU working parties, determines priorities and makes related decisions on resources. A meeting of the General Secretaries of Global Unions is held in June to conduct follow up on the January meeting and to hold detailed discussions of priorities and action.
The CGU has several working groups chaired by General Secretaries. Those groups, which organise CGU work between the two annual meetings and report to them, include:
- The Work Relationships Group that deals with precarious work and the effects that it has on the exercise of trade union and other human rights. In addition to cooperating at country level and in the ILO, the group developed a policy on temporary work agencies that was adopted by the CGU;
- The Communications Task Force put together two publications, “Getting the World to Work: Global Union Strategies for Recovery” and “Getting the World to Work: Green Growth for jobs and social justice” that grouped the positions of all Global Unions together around common core policies. The task force also exchanges information on communications problems and opportunities and campaigns; It has developed several common May Day messages.
- The Migration Working Group brings together trade union experience with migration in specific sectors with policy issues that affect all workers. It focuses on workers’ rights, which it considers should take priority over what are often largely commercial and economic considerations in international discussions on migration, including at the Global Forum on Migration and Development. The group seeks to expand the competence, mandate and effectiveness of the ILO as part of the constellation of international organisations dealing with migration.
- The Quality Public Services Working Group adopted the Geneva Charter in October of 2008 that outlines the principles and priorities of the trade union movement on public services. The group was established to build cooperation among trade union organisations from the public and private sectors, at national and international level, to strengthen support for public services of good quality. However, its establishment coincided with growing attacks (linked with the financial and economic crisis) on the rights, jobs, and conditions of workers in public services and their trade unions. This has forced the trade union movement to engage in largely defensive battles. The QPS working group and its web site has become one of the ways in which information is exchanged on those fights and on other issues. The working group was associated with a publication on corporate taxation developed under the leadership of EI.
- Changes in Burma that give hope for democracy and for the development of a free trade union movement, stimulated an agreement that efforts should be made to coordinate trade union work in that country. To that end, a Burma/Myanmar Working Group has been created. In several other countries and the Middle East/North Africa region, the CGU has been involved in ad hoc coordination efforts. In one such country, Turkey, the CGU agreed to have a coordinated programme inside the country that brings together several GUFs and their national affiliates.
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