Trade Unions And The Social Clause: A North South Union Divide?

The notion that the right to engage in international trade should be linked to respect for core labour standards has become one of the more contentious issues in the current globalisation debate. Within this debate conflicting claims have been made about the level of support for this stance found among unions in developing economies. This paper draws on surveys of the industry-level affiliates of two global union federations and of the national-level affiliates of the main international union confederation to assess the validity of these competing claims. We conclude that Southern unions - unions from developing economies - are strong supporters of linking international trade with recognition and enforcement of core labour standards.