TUC backs union rights at the UN

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Solidarity with UN workers

Letter to UN Secretary General

2 September 2013

TUC General Secretary Frances O'Grady has written to the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, protesting at his unilateral decision to withdraw union rights from staff in UN bodies, and urging him to rescind the withdrawal forthwith.

Her letter is a response to a request for intervention by the staff unions of the UN, and backs a similar call from the General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), Sharan Burrow. A similar appeal for support for the rights of the UN workforce has been made to UK Foreign Secretary William Hague.

Here is Frances O'Grady's letter to Ban Ki-moon. Details of the staff unions' case are set out here.

Dear Secretary-General

Union rights at the United Nations

As a long-term supporter of the United Nations, it saddens me to have to write to express the TUC's concern about the removal of the collective bargaining rights of the unions representing staff in the UN family. The International Labour Organisation, part of the UN family, has repeatedly stressed that freedom of association and the right to bargain collectively with employers are fundamental human rights, as set out in the 1944 Philadelphia Declaration.

In particular, the General Council of the TUC, representing our 54 affiliated unions and almost 6 million members is appalled that these rights were unilaterally withdrawn just days before the terrorist attack on the UN office in Mogadishu, given that the health and safety of employees has been shown to benefit from trade union representation.

I join with ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow and your own staff in calling on you to rescind the withdrawal of union rights in the UN family and enter into meaningful negotiations with the representatives of your employees.

I will be writing in similar terms to the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs of the UK Government, and would be grateful for your response to this letter so that I can report it to the TUC annual congress which starts on Sunday 8 September.

Yours sincerely


TUC General Secretary

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