Product/service offer: Workers' organisations

Presentation | 18 May 2022

The challenge

Independent trade unions in Central and Eastern Europe were established after the fall of the iron curtain in the early 1990s. Some unions emerged out of the previous trade union system after changing their constitutions. Others were newly established organizations.

The challenges unions face in the region are significant. The lack of respect for workers’ rights and established social dialogue structures is undermining the unions’ work. Violations of workers’ rights are reported throughout the region. Decreasing coverage of collective bargaining agreements together with difficulties in providing relevant services has led to a decreased membership in most countries. Low trade union coverage makes it difficult to influence policies.

The COVID-19 pandemic still has a negative impact on trade unions across the region. The economic crisis caused by the pandemic in 2020 led to reduction of employment and therefore further decreased membership in the region. Many of the trade unions have suffered from a significant loss of income as a result.

The refugee crises in Europe in 2022 also impacted trade unions, in particular in Ukraine and Moldova. Trade unions have been active in lending support to those most affected by the war in Ukraine.

Service offer 

  • Capacity Building: Customized technical assistance to support trade union engagement in social dialogue at national, sectoral and enterprise levels. This includes support to advocate for human-centred policies to build back better from the pandemic.
  • Advocacy: Assist workers’ organizations in drafting policy proposals to national and/or multilateral institutions to influence decisions on social, economic or environmental issues.
  • Empower workers through better trade union services: Assist trade unions in introducing and/or improving demand driven services for affiliates and/or workers.
  • Assisting trade union relief efforts for refugees and migrant workers: ILO supports trade union efforts on services to refugees, both in terms of short-term relief aid as well as labour market services aimed at assisting refugees to access decent jobs.

Contact: Magnus Berge, Senior Specialist Workers' Activities through