What is the IUF?

The International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers’ Associations (IUF) is an international federation of trade unions representing workers employed in

  • agriculture and plantations
  • the preparation and manufacture of food and beverages
  • hotels, restaurants and catering services
  • all stages of tobacco processing

The IUF is currently composed of 336 trade unions in 120 countries representing a combined membership of over 12 million workers.It is based in Geneva, Switzerland.

From its founding in 1920, international labour solidarity has been the IUF´s guiding principle. This principle is implemented through:

  • building solidarity at every stage of the food chain
  • international organizing within transnational companies (TNCs)
  • global action to defend human, democratic, and trade union rights

Strengthening Affiliates

The IUF exists to strengthen member unions through mutual support
It does this through:

  • assisting affiliates in organizing drives and in conflicts with employers and governments
  • coordinating and implementing solidarity and support actions:
  • sector-wide organizing
  • research and publications
  • promoting women’s equality at the workplace, in society and in the trade union movement
  • trade union education programs to help build the strength and independence of affiliated unions

International Recognition and Collective Bargaining

From the planting of seeds through the sowing of crops, the processing and manufacture of food, beverages, and tobacco products through to the catering and tourism sectors, no worker in the IUF sectors is unaffected by globalization. The process is being driven by the transnational companies which increasingly dominate world production, trade and investment and set the international social and political agenda.

The IUF seeks to create an international union counterweight to the power of the TNCs. We fight for union recognition at every level, including international level. We have won international agreements on global respect for trade union rights with leading companies within the IUF sectors. In our struggle for recognition of the IUF and its affiliates at international level, we are working to extend these agreements to other TNCs. In today’s global economy our goal must be internationally negotiated rights and standards within global companies

Defending Human, Democratic and Trade Union Rights

For the IUF, the active defense of trade union, human and democratic rights is not an adjunct to our industrial work but an essential part of our ongoing activity. For the trade union movement, defending these rights is a fundamental class issue for the simple reason that workers cannot organize in defense of their interests, nor maintain the gains they have achieved, in an anti-democratic environment.

The IUF gives active support to movements everywhere struggling against oppression. We respond internationally to every attack on our affiliates and on the labour movement. We are committed to building alliances with human rights, environmental, consumer and other organizations in civil society who share our objectives.


Regional Organizations of the IUF exist in Africa, Asia/Pacific, the Caribbean, Europe, Latin America and North America. The regions are autonomous, and pursue independent activities in close collaboration with the IUF and its governing bodies. In addition to the statutory regional organizations, sub-regional bodies exist to coordinate activity at that level.

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