The IUF - building global solidarity

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

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

The IUF is composed of 425 affiliated trade unions in 127 countries representing over 10 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
  • global action to defend human, democratic and trade union rights
  • international union organizing within transnational companies (TNCs)

Strengthening Affiliates

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

  • assisting affiliates in recruitment and organizing drives and in conflicts with employers and governments
  • coordinating and implementing solidarity and support actions
  • combating all forms of discrimination and promoting equality at the workplace, in society and in the trade union movement
  • ongoing trade union education programs to help build the strength and independence of affiliated unions
  • research and publications.

International Recognition and Collective Bargaining

From the planting of seeds, the harvesting 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 recognition and 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 integral part of our ongoing activity. Defending these rights is an essential class issue for the labour movement, because workers cannot organize in defense of their interests, nor maintain the gains they have achieved, when fundamental rights are violated or not secure.

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 and principles.

Strong Unions – Safe Work – Good Food

The IUF rules lay down the basic principles of IUF food policy, above all our commitment to ensure an adequate supply of safe, affordable food for all. As a global union federation, we believe that there is a direct link between union strength, consumer safety and public health and the environment. Where workers are denied the right to form a trade union and exercise oversight over health and safety, there can be no guarantees of safe food for consumers. Building trade union power in the workplace and in society is thus an indispensable precondition for reforming the way in which food is produced and consumed.

We are committed to a dignified life for those who plant, harvest, process, prepare and serve the food we all depend on for life. The IUF and its affiliates are therefore active at international and national level on food policy issues including food safety and quality, food security and international trade and investment.


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