Although the right to organise and freedom of association are fundamental labour rights, the realisation of these rights is often frustrated by corporations. Obstructing unionisation in itself is a labour rights abuse, but it is also a strategy to avoid the realisation of other labour rights.

Collective organisation is a mechanism for workers to claim their labour rights and attempt to balance the power wielded by companies, but restriction of these rights has increased in 2020.[1] Collective organisation of workers can be directly undermined by companies through the firing of existing or potential union leaders, by the formation of company-controlled unions, or otherwise persecuting or frustrating those who attempt to lead unionisation.[2] This strategy is visible in contexts with either insufficient or unenforced labour laws.

The International Labour Organization (ILO) describes the rights to Collective Organisation as an “enabling right” for other labour rights.[3] Preventing unionisation prevents workers’ complaints from being heard and allows companies to maintain low safety and compensation standards.

[1]  International Trade Union Confederation. “2020 ITUC Global Rights Index,” 2020. (accessed June 29, 2020)

[2] Cividep, “Quality of jobs in question”, February 19, 2018, (accessed June 29, 2020); Stichting Onderzoek Multinationale Ondernemingen (SOMO), “The story of the Türk Traktör workers,” September 8, 2017, (accessed October 31, 2019); Clean Clothes Campaign, “Adidas and Mizuno involved in unfair dismissal case,” November 20, 2015, (accessed October 30, 2019)

[3] International Labour Organization, “Freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining,”–en/index.htm (accessed December 16, 2019).