Asia-Pacific sees slight improvement in the Global Rights Index 2023, but remains second worst region for workers globally

Jul 2023
United Nations
Global Rights Index, Workers' Rights, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Philippines, Turkey

In the tenth-year edition of the Global Rights Index by the International Trade Union Confederation, Asia-Pacific's overall rating showed a marginal improvement this year after a steadily worsening environment for workers’ rights in the past nine years. However, the region still holds the unenviable distinction of being the second worst in the world for the working people.

A worrisome finding from the report reveals that four out of the ten worst countries in the world for workers' rights are from the countries and territories covered by ITUC-Asia Pacific – namely, Bangladesh, Myanmar, the Philippines and Turkey. These are the same four countries included in the top ten list last year, indicating that the rights of workers therefrom continue to be gravely violated.

The Global Rights Index 2023 also shows that while there were no significant changes in most of the indicators used to assess workers' rights, one notable improvement was observed in the number of countries within the region where workers were arrested and detained, which decreased from 83% in 2022 to 78% in 2023.

However, this positive trend is tempered by an alarming increase in the number of countries where workers have experienced violence from 43% in 2022 to 48% in 2023. Cases of violence against workers in Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, India, Republic of Korea, and the Philippines were well documented in the report.

The Global Rights Index 2023 further sheds light on the state of workers' rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining in the Asia-Pacific region. It reveals that an overwhelming majority of countries in the region do not adequately protect and uphold these fundamental rights, as illustrated by the following findings:

  • 91% of countries in Asia-Pacific impeded the registration of unions;
  • 87% of countries in Asia-Pacific excluded workers from the right to establish and join a trade union;
  • 87% of countries in Asia-Pacific violated the right to strike; and
  • 83% of countries in Asia-Pacific violated the right to collective bargaining.

Shoya Yoshida, General Secretary of the ITUC-Asia Pacific said, “The Global Rights Index bares the dire state of workers’ rights in Asia-Pacific in the last ten years. As trade unions in the region, we refuse to accept the same future of work in the next ten years. The report is a stark reminder that we need to further strengthen our power to advance a new social contract for a just and inclusive future of work in Asia-Pacific where all workers enjoy their fundamental rights freely and without fear of reprisal.”

The Global Rights Index 2023 can be accessed here.

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