World Confederation Of Labour [UPSC Notes GS-II]

World Confederation of Labour (WCL) was initially founded in 1920 by the name of International Federation of Christian Trade Unions (IFCTU). The main purpose of its establishment was to represent the interests of Christian labour unions in Western Europe and Latin America. In 1940, the Fascist and Nazi suppressions led to the abolishment of the IFCTU but it was later reconstituted in 1945. The International Federation of Christian Trade Unions (IFCTU) was renamed as World Confederation of Labour (WCL) in 1948.

WCL is an important topic for the IAS Exam and is included under the GS-II section. Candidates can also the notes PDF at the end of this article.

The World Confederation of Labour was formed to fight against the discrimination and for the protection of rights of the female as well as the male workers. The WCL was formally dissolved on 31 October 2006 when it merged with the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) to form the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC).

Objectives of World Confederation Of Labour

Headquartered at Brussels, Belgium, the World Confederation of Labour aims to assist the development of trade unions and also to defend trade union freedoms. Some of the main objectives of WCL are:

  1. To gain respect for trade union freedom.
  2. To provide moral support to its member countries and ensuring permanent collaboration with them.
  3. To take a step for the respect and promotion of the workers’ dignity and also improving their living conditions.
  4. Developing effective solidarity between the member countries and the affiliated organizations.
  5. Promoting cross-country worker unity and to provide emergency assistance.

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Structure of World Confederation of Labour

Congress is the governing body of the World Confederation of Labour and has a major role to play in appointing the Secretary-General. The Congress also elects the confederation committee, president, secretary-general and treasurer. WCL consists of both trade-union centres as well as a number of non-trade-union associations.

WCL had 12.7 million members from the trade unions of 74 countries in the year 1968. Apart from Congress, WCL also has a General Council which has members from Confederal Board. The General Council also includes the representatives of international trade federations, national confederations and trade union organisations. The general leadership of the WCL is controlled by the Confederal Board.

The World Confederation of Labour may seek national, regional and international economic integration but its influence is virtually limited to domestic policies and local affairs in member-countries. The WCL is the smallest international labour federation. It has brought into its fold Christian, Buddhist and Muslims member confederation, as well as organisations without religious reference.

WCL Areas of Activity:

The WCL focused on the following activities:

  1. Human Rights and International Labour Standards: The WCL worked to enforce respect for international law, especially as codified by the ILO. The organization also sought to introduce labour standards into international trade policies.
  2. Women Workers: The World Women’s Committee of the WCL convened “representatives from the continents” annually to advocate for women workers and address problems specific to female labourers.
  3. Child Labour: The WCL worked in support of the Global March Against Child Labour and advocated for ILO Convention 182, which addressed serious forms of child labour. The organization also assisted with the First World Congress of Child Workers.
  4. Migrant Workers: The rights of migrants — as humans and as workers — was a particular focus of the WCL’s work, especially given its increased presence in a globalized economy.
  5. Training: The WCL worked to provide capacity building among its various member organizations, training local unionists in areas of recruitment, dues systems, and communications.

Current Status of the WLC

As globalization became more of a threat to union membership throughout the 1980s and 1990s, the WCL increased its efforts to carry out a similar global unification of labour leadership. Its 1993 congress in Mauritius attempted to lay out a concrete strategy for responding to business attacks on organized labour around the world. The WCL soon obtained consultative status within the International Labour Organization and joined the International Council of the World Social Forum.

The WCL was formally dissolved on 31 October 2006 when it merged with the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) to form the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC).

World Confederation of Labour [UPSC Notes GS-II]:- Download PDF Here

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