International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU)

Confédération internationale des syndicats libres (CISL)
Confederación Internacional de Organizaciones Sindicales Libres (CIOSL)
Internationaler Bund Freier Gewerkschaften (IBFG)

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Dec 1949, London (UK), at 1st Congress, when statutes were adopted by 70 trade union organizations covering 53 countries and with an aggregate membership of 50 million. Statutes most recently modified by 18th Congress, Dec 2004, Miyazaki (Japan). Ceased to exist 31 Oct 2006; merged with World Confederation of Labour (WCL) to form International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC).



 • Maintain and develop a powerful, united, pluralist, representative and democratic international trade organization, composed of free and democratic trade unions, independent of any external domination and capable of enhancing the dignity of labour by effectively defending and promoting the rights and interests of working people at the global, regional, sub-regional and national levels.

 • Further establishment, development and reinforcement of free, democratic and independent trade union organizations in all countries and promote the highest ethical standards within the trade union movement worldwide.

 • Promote trade union and other human rights and defend free and independent trade unions and their members from violations of the right to organize and bargain collectively and of other worker's rights.

 • Provide solidarity and assistance to trade unions in need of such assistance.

 • Extend trade union representation by actively supporting trade union organizing worldwide and extend full rights and protection to workers performing precarious, informal or unprotected work.

 • Promote and strengthen the work of the ILO and ensure that all governments respect international labour standards in full.

 • Promote full and freely chosen employment, prosperity and the best standard of living for all in every country and promote international cooperation between countries to these ends.

 • Ensure that trade union principles and policies are taken into account in international decision-making, by governments, international organizations and other bodies.

 • Ensure that all international organizations respect international labour standards and contribute to the realization of social and economic development and equitable distribution of wealth.

 • Guarantee full integration of women into trade union organizations and actively promote gender parity in the activities of the Confederation and its decision-making bodies at all levels.

 • End all adverse discrimination, combat racism and xenophobia and uphold respect for diversity in society, in employment and within the trade union movement.

 • Promote, protect and uphold the rights of migrant workers.

 • Support the right of young workers to decent work, education and training, their full participation at all decision-making levels and the integration of young workers' issues within the trade union movement.

 • Strengthen solidarity amongst generations within the trade union movement and support the rights of retired workers to decent incomes.

 • Eliminate forced labour and child labour.

 • Combat social exclusion, including through promoting universal access to decent health care and to free, formal, compulsory basic education provided as quality public services and access to lifelong learning.

 • Promote public awareness and understanding concerning international trade union principles, policies and campaigns and support the provision of information and education to trade unionists.

 • Ensure the maximum effectiveness of international trade union action to hold employers accountable to their social responsibilities.

 • Strive for global peace and security, in particular through multilateral processes of the United Nations and its specialized agencies, including supporting disarmament, the elimination of all weapons of mass destruction and implementation of effective measures to control and regulate international trade in arms.

 • Develop and maintain cooperation with other organizations, both governmental and non-governmental, at the international level, in furtherance of the Confederation's policies and activities in advancing the interests of society as a whole.

 • Attain good governance of globalization through the reform and democratization of multilateral institutions for a fairer, more human and more equitable world, based on solidarity.

 • Develop and reinforce joint action with the Global Union Federations and the Trade Union Advisory Committee to the OECD (TUAC), under the common identity of Global Unions, through arrangements made by agreement between the partner organizations in Global Unions (other organizations may be accepted as partners in Global Unions, subject to decision by the Executive Board and agreement between the existing Global Unions partners).

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Since foundation, has: worked for adequate aid to developing countries; promoted measures to achieve full employment, abolish forced labour practices, shorten working hours and win for the workers their due say in the formation and application of economic and social policies; taken action in various countries in the defence of freedom of trade union rights and also the right of every nation to self-determination; given active assistance to unions in developing countries to build union movements and strengthen the weaker ones; promoted gender equality; combatted child labour.

Set up and maintains International Solidarity fund to help in the development of free trade unions everywhere, with special emphasis on developing countries and countries emerging from dictatorship conditions. The Fund: makes grants for national trade union action programmes, educational activities, practical advice and assistance; provides assistance to workers who fall victim of repressive regimes or hostile governments or employers; makes contributions in the case of earthquakes, hurricanes or other disasters; finances other aspects of international solidarity.

Specialized training courses have been held in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

Associated bodies:

 • -Global Union Federations (GUF) (currently 10);

 • -ITUC Asia-Pacific Labour Network (APLN) - examines ways in which trade unions can contribute to the process of regional cooperation;

 • -Human and Trade Union Rights Committee;

 • -Women's Committee;

 • -Youth Committee;

 • -ICFTU/GUF/TUAC Committee on Workers Capital.

 • -ICFTU/GUF/TUAC Trade, Investment and Labour Standards (TILS);

 • -'Trade Union Development Cooperation Clearing House'.


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English, French, German, 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); World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) (Permanent Observer Status); Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO); International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA); International Maritime Organization (IMO); United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF); United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO).

Relations with Inter-Governmental Organizations

Relations with 19 inter-governmental organizations.
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Relations with Non-Governmental Organizations

Relations with 43 non-governmental organizations.
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Members in 154 countries
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Type I Classification

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Type II Classification

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Subjects *

  • Society
    • Social
    • Women
    • Infants
    • Youth
    • Sex-Related Questions
    • Migrants
  • Social Activity
    • Employment
    • Work
    • Participation
    • Income
    • Retirement
    • Workers
    • Employers
  • Commerce
    • Conditions of Trade
  • Societal Problems
    • Racism, xenophobia
    • Deprivation
  • Research, Standards
    • Standards
  • Health Care
    • Care
  • Education
    • Education
    • Training
    • Further Education
  • Defence
    • Arms
  • Economics
    • Economic
  • Metapolitics
    • Democracy
  • International Relations
    • Disarmament
    • Planetary Initiatives
  • Development
    • Development
  • Policy-making
    • Policy
  • Security
    • Security
  • Peace
    • Peace
    • Equality
    • Rights
    • Discrimination
  • Solidarity
    • Solidarity
  • Integration
    • Integration

UN Sustainable Development Goals **

GOAL 1: No PovertyGOAL 3: Good Health and Well-beingGOAL 4: Quality EducationGOAL 5: Gender EqualityGOAL 8: Decent Work and Economic GrowthGOAL 10: Reduced InequalityGOAL 11: Sustainable Cities and CommunitiesGOAL 16: Peace and Justice Strong InstitutionsGOAL 17: Partnerships to achieve the Goal



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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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