Ever found yourself complaining about your job, but then wondering about all the places where your situation could be worst? A new study is here to answer your questions about which places on the planet are the worst countries to be a worker.
The new study conducted by the International Trade Union Confederation (an umbrella agency that includes unions from around the world), gives insight on the circumstances of workers’ rights in 139 countries. To develop its 2014 Global Rights Index, the ITUC measured 97 different workers’ rights metrics – such as the right to form or join a union, access to legal protections and due process, including an Employment Attorney, and freedom from violent or potentially hazardous workplace conditions. Each of these factors are taken into consideration to rank countries on a scale of 1 (the best protections) to 5 (the worst protections).
As the study showed, in at least 35 countries workers have experienced arrest and imprisonment “as a tactic to resist demands for democratic rights, decent wages, safer working conditions and secure jobs.” In at least 9 countries, murder and “disappearance” are regularly used to intimidate workers – although of course the occasional instance of these brutal tactics have occurred at some point in every part of the world.
Interestingly Denmark was the only nation to earn a perfect score, meaning the country honors all 97 indicators of workers’ rights. Meanwhile the U.S. earned an embarrassing score of 4 due to “systematic violations” and “serious efforts to crush the collective voice of workers.”
In a statement about the report, ITUC general secretary Sharan Burrow wrote that “Countries such as Denmark and Uruguay led the way through their strong labour laws, but perhaps surprisingly, the likes of Greece, the United States and Hong Kong, lagged behind, A country’s level of development proved to be a poor indicator of whether it respected basic rights to bargain collectively, strike for decent conditions, or simply join a union at all.”
Here’s a snapshot of these world rankings. Darker shades indicate poorer protections for workers. A score of 5+ indicates that active conflicts, like those in Syria or Sudan, basically block any legal protections for workers whatsoever. The original interactive map can be viewed here.