Freedom at Work 2012: Democracy and an Economy for All

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Date of publication: August 23, 2012

Author: International Labor Rights Forum

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In many parts of the world, freedom of association in the workplace has come under increasingly hostile attacks. In 2011, 75 labor activists were murdered and thousands more were harassed, fired, arrested or abducted for defending workers’ rights.

Yet beyond these heinous acts, workers face deep-rooted barriers to realizing the right to freely associate and bargain collectively in the workplace. The increasing mobility of capital, the rise of precarious work, and the growing power of multinational companies all threaten workers’ ability to organize and collectively bargain.

Aggravating matters further, many governments are pursuing policies to undermine these fundamental rights.

Why should anyone care that the right to organize and bargain collectively at work is one of the most widely violated human rights? Because our partners around the world have shown us that these rights are a positive force for creating responsive democracies and economic prosperity.

If you care about democracy, economic inequality, and sustainable economic prosperity, you need to care about the fundamental right to freedom of association at work! Please share the stories in this report about brave organizers, who persist despite great personal risks, in pushing forward new strategies for organizing and protecting the rights of workers and the interests of their families.

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