World Confederation of Labour (WCL)

Confédération mondiale du travail (CMT)
Confederación Mundial del Trabajo (CMT)
Weltverband der Arbeitnehmer (WVA)
Wereldverbond van de Arbeid (WVA)

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19 June 1920, The Hague (Netherlands), as International Federation of Christian Trade Unions (IFCTU) -- Confédération internationale des syndicats chrétiens (CISC), with an orientation explicitly based upon Christian social principles, a Secrétariat international chrétien having been created by Zurich (Switzerland) Conference in 1908. In 1960, also took over the activities of Federation of Christian Trade Unions in the ECSC, which had existed from 1955. At 16th Congress, 1-4 Oct 1968, Luxembourg, IFCTU adopted its present name and a new Declaration of Principles which, without abandoning the spiritual and humanistic principles which shape its identity, gave it a universal dimension. At 17th Congress, 1969, Geneva (Switzerland), the structure of WCL was adapted to bring it into line with the new geographical realities within which the Third World was playing an increasing role for its world expansion. Current Statutes adopted by 20th Congress, 9-14 Nov 1981, Manila (Philippines); modified by: 21st Congress, Oct 1985, Baden (Austria); 22nd Congress, Nov 1989, Caracas (Venezuela); 23rd Congress, Oct 1993, Mauritius; 24th Congress, Dec 1997, Bangkok (Thailand); 25th Congress, Oct 2001, Bucharest (Romania). Ceased to exist 31 Oct 2006; merged with International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) to form International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC).


(a) Gain recognition and effective application in economic and social life of the principles defined in the Declaration, with a view to establishing a society organized according to these principles; (b) contribute to the establishment, consolidation and development at national, regional and world levels, in both federal and confederal fields, of a trade union movement which is inspired by these principles; (c) gain respect for trade union freedom and guarantee exercise of this right for all workers worldwide; (d) give moral and material support to member organizations and ensure permanent collaboration among them within WCL; (e) take action aimed at respect for and promotion of workers' dignity and at improvement of their living conditions; (f) develop effective solidarity between affiliated organizations and their members.

General philosophy: active non-alignment with respect to super-powers or economic, political or military power blocks; rejection of imperialism and defence of self-determination and sovereignty of peoples; condemnation of capitalism, of Marxist statism and of all types of dictatorship; the struggle for human and union rights and for democratic freedom in all countries, independent of their geographical, political or ideological position; priority for the Third World; unceasing efforts for peace, disarmament, conversion of military industries, political solutions and negotiation; the concept of development of solidarity of peoples in the framework of a new dimension in international relations and the world economic order; independence of the trade union movement in the face of pressure or geopolitical interests of parties, the Church, business leaders and all influences foreign to that movement; seeking a new solidarity among workers, nations, continents, sectors, at all levels of human society.

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Main tasks include organization of training for member organizations. Uses contact and exchange among affiliates to reinforce action of all in a global economy. Intervenes with institutions and decision-making bodies that determine the workers' condition so as to reach a dignified development model doing justice to human beings, communities and peoples. Represents workers within the UN, its regional committees and its specialized agencies. 'Human Rights and International Labour Standards Department' intervenes with national and international negotiators in case of violation of workers' rights. Provides information on problems in connection with the world of work.

Programmes and bodies:

World Committee for Women Workers (WCW) set up 24-28 Oct 1994, Caracas (Venezuela): adopts measures to guarantee application of recommendations of Resolution on Women Workers, so as to improve their living and working conditions. 'Migrant Workers and Women's Cell'; 'Child Labour Cell'; World Commission of Human Rights and International Labour Standards (WCL-NORM); 'Socio-Economic Programme' - builds capacities of trade unions from the South to combat consequences of policies pursued by international economic institutions; 'Trade Action' - set up 3 programmes to protect and promote workers' rights: Multi- and Transnational Companies, Informal Sector, Training; International Solidarity Foundation (ISF), set up 1963, to assist in development aid projects.


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English, French, Spanish.


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Consultative Status

United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) (General); United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) (Operational Relations); International Labour Organization (ILO) (General); United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) (General Category); United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO); Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO); International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA); United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF).

Relations with Inter-Governmental Organizations

Relations with 10 inter-governmental organizations.
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Relations with Non-Governmental Organizations

Relations with 40 non-governmental organizations.
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Members in 92 countries
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Type I Classification

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Type II Classification

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Subjects *

  • Social Activity
    • Work
    • Workers
  • Amenities
    • Living Conditions
  • Peace
    • Rights
  • Purpose
    • Purpose

UN Sustainable Development Goals **

GOAL 3: Good Health and Well-beingGOAL 5: Gender EqualityGOAL 8: Decent Work and Economic GrowthGOAL 10: Reduced InequalityGOAL 11: Sustainable Cities and CommunitiesGOAL 16: Peace and Justice Strong Institutions



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* Subject classification is derived from the organization names and aims.
** UN SDGs are linked to the subject classification.

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