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The TUC and the Department for International Development

Through a series of key policy statements, DFID recognises the labour movement and the rising labour standards it promotes as key drivers in reducing poverty. As its staff guide on “How to Work with Trade Unions” states (at paragraph 1.2): “The labour movement has been the most important historical driver of labour standards and workers rights. Trade unions have also frequently been in the forefront of wider struggles for political change, democracy and social justice.” For key DFID policy statements covering the role of trade unions in international development see:

To further realise the potential of the UK trade union movement in furthering the goals of international development, the TUC and DFID have entered into a number of partnerships since 2003.

TUC/ DFID Partnership Programme Arrangement (2009-2011)

Commencing in July 2009, the Partnership Programme Arrangement provides £2.4 million to the TUC, its affiliate unions in the UK and sister unions in developing countries to work in partnership to reduce poverty and increase the rights of workers in developing countries.  

Overall, there are four strategic objectives of this grant:

  • Improved capacity of developing country trade unions to promote decent work and good governance to government, business and international institutions at the national level
  • Poor workers and their families have improved rights and improved capacity to enforce those rights leading to higher income and better employment conditions
  • Strengthened UK and developing country trade union international development policy engagement and influence at national, regional and international levels
  • Greater British trade union membership understanding of and commitment to: sustainable development; and to the challenges of the Decent Work Agenda for developing country workers

For more information, see the following:

TUC/DFID Strategic Framework Partnership Arrangement (2006-2009)

Commencing on 1 July 2006, the three-year Strategic Framework Partnership Arrangement (SFPA) provides £756,000 to the TUC and its affiliate unions to increase their engagement with DFID and build individual union capacity to internationalise their agenda. To do this, the following outcomes are being pursued: 

  • Increased awareness and understanding of development among trade union members in the UK;
  • The closer engagement of the TUC, a number of affiliated unions and DFID with Southern unions;
  • Enhanced cooperation between the TUC, affiliates and DFID on the international development agenda.

The Arrangement includes the following activities:

  • Assistance to four affiliates per year to develop tailor-made strategies on development education or partnership work with unions in developing countries, with the aim of securing funding from other DFID funding streams;
  • Training for affiliates on project design, management, monitoring and evaluation;
  • The promotion and consolidation of development awareness within the TUC education programme;
  • A major international development conference; and
  • A mini grants scheme for development-related activities.

(NB: This funding does not preclude union or TUC access to other DFID funding such as the Civil Society Challenge Fund and the Development Awareness Fund.)
For more information about the Strategic Framework Partnership Arrangement: 

TUC/DFID Strategic Grant Agreement (2003-2006)

After a year long project aimed at raising awareness about the Millennium Development Goals and the role of labour standards in development, the TUC signed a three year Strategic Grant Agreement with DFID worth £255,000 in 2003 (increased by £200,000 in June 2004). Under the Agreement the TUC was committed to building the knowledge and awareness of international development issues with its affiliates and to enhance the trade union contribution towards reducing poverty. An independent study concluded that the SGA was:

“…a highly successful project, which has achieved considerable impact in a relatively short period of time. There is ample evidence that the Project has achieved its Goal and can demonstrate:

  • greater understanding of international issues across the UK trade union movement
  • commitment to continued engagement with DFID and other key development players.”

For more information about the Strategic Grant Agreement: 

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