Global Unions’ COVID-19 Response

The leaders of the global union movement, the ITUC and Global Union Federations, convened by video on 30 March to assess developments and urgent needs across the different sectors of the global economy as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread.

Credit: Global Union's Logo

Priority concern is for the millions of health workers whose work is the frontline defence against COVID and who are experiencing extremely high rates of infection, many with fatal consequences. The need for self-isolation for many more is adding strain to already overstretched health facilities.

Public health systems around the world are struggling to cope, with years of under-funding and privatisation leaving them unable to deal with the pandemic. The greatest fears are for developing countries, where critical shortages of health personnel, facilities and equipment leave whole countries severely exposed.

Unions around the world, in every sector, are working to ensure protection for those who do need to work, and income support and social protection for all those, whatever their employment situation and including in the informal sector, who cannot work.

Steven Cotton, Chair of the Council of Global Unions and ITF General Secretary said, “Care and health workers must have the medical equipment and social protection they need. They cannot protect people if they cannot protect themselves. This global crisis has revealed to the world the importance of reliable and strong global supply chains. Food, medicine, protective equipment and medical supplies must keep moving. We must recognise and reward the daily sacrifices of tens of millions of supply chain workers to supply the world with the resources it needs to survive, fight and recover from this virus. Precarious, informal and unsafe work cannot be allowed to continue in global supply chains – we need decent trade, moving a decent economy, built on decent work.”

Sharan Burrow, General Secretary of the CGU and of the ITUC said « We are experiencing thegreatest display of solidarity in human history. Shutdowns and confinement now cover most of the world’s population, in order to protect in particular the elderly and those with pre-existing conditions. Lives and livelihoods are being put on hold at best, as the focus is rightly on containment and mitigation and supporting the health and care workers who are the frontline, and those in many other vital sectors. Unions everywhere are devoting all their efforts to protect health and livelihoods, and to ensure that the lessons from this pandemic are learned in full and applied in future”

(each GUF could insert additional quote if they wish)

To find out more for each individual sector, and the ITUC’s global response, see :


Health and other Public Services











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