Global Unions

About the Program - what can trade unions do?

About the Program - what can trade unions do?
26 September 2010: A short description of trade unions’ role in workplace action on HIV/AIDS

Trade unions have a special role in expanding national responses to the epidemic. As the representatives of people at work, they are in a special position of trust and leadership.

Membership: Global Unions bring together national unions , and have a combined membership of over 150 million workers. Their structures and networks operate at global, national, sectoral and regional levels.

Workplace: Trade unions are key actors at the workplace and well placed to help employers develop policies and programmes for prevention, treatment, care and the protection of rights.

Policy: Trade unions have an important role to play in shaping policies for dealing with the epidemic, advocating increased funding for HIV programmes, and lobbying for reduced drugs prices and universal access to treatment. Trade unions use the ILO Code of Practice on HIV/AIDS and the world of work as the basis for policy.

Partnerships: Global Unions work with employers, the ILO and other bodies to help establish inter-national standards and guidelines to protect rights and promote action. A declaration has been signed between the global bodies representing workers and employers, and a memorandum of understanding signed with the World AIDS Campaign .

Trade unions can help by:

Protecting the rights of people at work against stigma, discrimination, compulsory testing and dismissal.

Developing HIV agreements with employers to put in place policies and programmes at workplaces in public and private sectors.

Supporting behaviour change, because trade unions share the same background as the people they represent, their messages and educators are likely to be trusted and accepted.

Reducing risk by promoting occupational safety and health and addressing social, economic and political factors that increase risk.

Promoting access to care and treatment, trade unions have a crucial role in working with employers to increase access to treatment and encourage people to be tested in an atmosphere of trust and non-discrimination.

Developing national and international programmes, working with employers and governments to include strategies for the workplace in national AIDS plans, and making sure that AIDS is on the agenda of every trade union.