2024 ITUC Global Rights Index: Asia-Pacific records widespread systematic labour rights violations once again

Press Statement
Jun 2024
United Nations
Global Rights Index, Bangladesh, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Türkiye

Asia-Pacific remains the second worst region in the world for the working people as the past year was once again marked with systematic violations of workers’ basic and democratic rights to organise a trade union and to strike, according to the 2024 ITUC Global Rights Index.

Bangladesh, the Philippines, Myanmar, and Türkiye stayed in the list of the top 10 worst countries for workers.

The 11th edition of the Global Rights Index also found that:

  • Asia-Pacific has an average rating of 4.13. While the rating is a slight improvement from 2023, it is still worse than its best rating of 4.05 that was recorded in 2014.
  • Afghanistan and Myanmar are rated 5+ - meaning, there is no guarantee of rights due to the breakdown of the rule of law. This demonstrates the critical role of a well-functioning democracy in ensuring the protection of labour rights.
  • Trade unionists were killed in Bangladesh, the Philippines and the Republic of Korea.
  • Trade union leaders were arrested and received heavy sentences on spurious charges in Cambodia, Iran, and Myanmar.
  • Authorities violently repressed strikes in Bangladesh, one of the 10 worst countries in the world for working people.
  • The government of the Republic of Korea continued to target unions through the illegitimate use of public prosecutors and the criminalisation of union activities.
  • In Indonesia, the government adopted the Omnibus Law, which removes minimum wage protection and the right to collective bargaining for almost all workers.

ITUC-Asia Pacific General Secretary Shoya Yoshida said:

“The rampant and systematic violations of workers’ rights in Asia-Pacific is a manifestation of backsliding democracies in the region. The attacks on trade unions and workers’ rights are attacks on democracies. Yet, despite facing constant attacks and suppression by repressive regimes, trade unions in the region are fearlessly taking on their roles as legitimate representatives of workers’ voices, as vanguards of workers’ rights, and as an important pillar of genuine democracy.”

Across Asia-Pacific:

  • 91% of countries violated the right to strike.
  • 83% of countries violated the right to collective bargaining.
  • 87% of countries violated the right to establish and join a trade union.
  • 91% of countries impeded the registration of unions.
  • In 70% of countries, workers had no or restricted access to justice.
  • 61% of countries restricted freedom of speech and assembly.
  • Workers were arrested and detained in 18 countries.
  • Workers experienced violence in 8 countries.
“While the ITUC Global Rights Index presents the distressing and precarious conditions of workers in the region, it is also a testament that trade unions are not giving up. The cases documented in the report are evidence of trade unions’ unyielding courage in the struggles to achieve decent and dignified working conditions for all workers across Asia-Pacific. As a trade union movement, let us continue to hold governments accountable for the widespread violations of workers’ rights. Through our collective and organised efforts, we can defend democracies from total collapse,” Shoya Yoshida remarked.

The ITUC Global Rights Index is a comprehensive review of workers’ rights in law ranking 151 countries against a list of 97 indicators derived from ILO Conventions and jurisprudence, and as such is the only database of its kind. It rates countries on a scale from 1 to 5+ on the degree of respect for workers’ rights. Violations are recorded each year from April to March.

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