Voice & Privacy

No engagement or non-recognition of union members


All persons have a right to form and participate in trade unions of their choice. Trade unions are important in protecting the labour rights of workers, including with respect to the amount of pay, leave entitlements and the provision of safe working conditions. A person cannot be discriminated against for membership of a lawful trade union. Businesses should not refuse to engage with, or recognize the rights of, trade union members to collectively bargain for fair employment terms.


Where a workplace does not engage with or recognize trade union members, this can result in a significant breakdown in the relationship between employer and employee, leading to increased workplace unrest, and potentially industrial action such as strikes.


Recognition of trade unions by employers is necessary for collective bargaining to take place. It is also necessary to ensure the observance of agreements following successful collective bargaining. Many States have legislation that governs the formation and role of trade unions and the role of employers in dealing with trade unions. Businesses need to become familiar with this legislation.

Relevant Human Rights Instruments

Convention concerning Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise, 1948 (No. 87)
Convention concerning the Application of the Principles of the Right to Organize and to Bargain Collectively, 1949 (No. 98)
Convention concerning Protection and Facilities to be Afforded to Workers' Representatives in the Undertaking, 1971 (No. 135)



SDG 8.8

In recognizing union representation at the workplace, businesses promote the achievement of SDG 8.8: Protect labour rights and promote safe and secure working environments for all workers, including migrant workers, in particular women migrants, and those in precarious employment