Trade unions deep dive on UN’s complaint mechanisms

In an effort to empower trade unionists on the United Nations’ complaint mechanisms, a delegation comprising four representatives—two of whom were women and three youths—from four BWI affiliates: CLAWUZ (Zimbabwe), UBCCECAWU (Uganda), FGBB (Tunisia), and TWU (Ghana), participated in an online workshop on Human Rights Complaints Mechanisms held on 27 March 27 2024. They were joined by 18 other participants.

Organised by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the FES-AU, and IndustriAll-SSA, the workshop provided a crucial platform for labour rights activists to understand the free and easily accessible processes that interested parties (including individuals and trade unions) can follow to bring attention and potential relief to human and labour rights violations wherever they may occur. Through informative presentations delivered by the United Nations’ Federica Donati and Maria Torrente, the attending participants were educated on the types of communications permitted, the unique purpose of each type of communication, available online resources, and potential outcomes. 

Following the training, Osei Poku of Ghana’s TWU said: “It is disappointing to learn that trade unions have not taken full advantage of the avenues provided by the UN’s Special Rapporteur / Working Groups to assist workers. However, given that the complaints communications process is free and can bring attention and resolve labour rights violations based on factual information that we [trade union organisers] can easily gather and consolidate, I am hopeful that BWI affiliates will seize the opportunity to ‘scale up the use of complaints mechanisms’ and ‘build cases and pressure through investigations and exposés’ per the 2023-2026 BWI Vamos! Strategic Plan.”