Regional Trade Union Program

Trade unions have played an important political role during the political unrest and following the overthrow of the country's rulers. In Tunisia and Egypt, the workers in the factories had gone on strike during the demonstrations. In Tunisia, the strike, which was called by the Tunisian General Labour Union (UGTT) led to the overthrow of President Ben Ali on 14 January 2011. In other countries, such as Libya and Bahrain, trade unions also succeeded in mobilizing the population. Beyond their political role, trade unions play at national level a significant role in economic and social development. They are mostly present all over the country and can ensure that the interests of the employees are taken into account in policy-making and that labour market and social policy goals are not neglected.

In the coming years, it is for many trade unions in the Near / Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region to demand and accompany the political reforms after the "Arab Spring". Concretely, this means that unions will push for economic and social reforms in the interests of the employees while protecting in particular the workers’ rights.

For unions in the region to take on this responsibility and fully fulfil their role, the democratic and independent trade union structures must be strengthened in their capacities.

Through the regional trade union project, FES pursues the following objectives:

  • Consolidating the regional trade union structures in the MENA region and providing support for women's and youth structures.
  • Promoting regional cooperation between unions
  • Elaborating strategies and trade union position on the socio-economic themes such as social security, migration, informal sector and climate change.
  • Developing e-learning methods to strengthen the knowledge about workers right.

To implement its projects, the regional trade union project works together with:

  • Member of the executive and with young trade unionist. As well as officials and members of the national and sub-regional trade unions.
  • Independent civil society organizations representing the interests of citizens and workers.
  • Policy makers who have influence on the relevant issues;
  • Workers, progressive scientific and intellectual elite dealing with social and trade unions rights.

The planned activities are for instance conferences, seminars, workshops, publications and information visits as well as dialogue. Additionally, more recent instruments such as animated videos and infographics can be used as learning material.

Our Regional Projects


E-learning (e-learning) platform for training and education of workers

The Friedrich Ebert Foundation launched with the Arab Trade Unions confederation the e-learning project which is related to various causes of workers and unions.

This project is essential to educate an audience of unionists, workers and professionals and to build their capacities and awareness about their rights, especially those in countries affected by conflicts or prohibiting union work.

This program includes a group of videos that summarize and simplify the most important conventions of the International Labor Organization. But in the infographics, there are comparisons between the local legislation in Arab countries in matters of workers' rights. For example: equal pay and social security.

E-Learning Videos for Trade Unionists on Youtube

Get more videos from our Youtube-Playlist on the FES Channel.

The Friedrich Ebert Foundation, a continued support for working women

Since the launch of the Regional Trade Union Program in 2014, the Friedrich Ebert Foundation ensures a specific support and training for unionists women, believing in the role they have either they are members, activists and/or leaders in strengthening trade unions and in building a labor force and defending workers’ rights.

In this sense, the EFS has contributed in the organization of several activities for the Arab women trade union network as well as the international industry union network, and has supported different feminist campaigns such as “Count Us In” campaign organized by the International Trade Union Confederation.

In addition, the FES tries to create a network between the women trade unionists in the region through training on various topics such as the basic principles of the International Labor Organization, groups’ negotiations, and communication tools.

Social justice and rights of workers through political and economic changes

Since its foundation in 1925, the FES ensures the importance of topics related to economic and social rights of workers, and working with unions on strengthening their capacities in order to play a leading role in defending the rights of their members, local and migrant workers.

The FES organized numerous regional conferences around important themes such as the informal economy and the influence of international financial institutions on the economic policies of countries in the region, the bases of social protection and problems of migrant domestic workers.



The regional meeting for the Migrant Domestic Workers in the MENA region

The meeting was attended by 10 leaders representing 8 domestic workers’ groups from the MENA region. From the 10 leaders, 9 are MDWs (8 females and 1…



“Young Leaders for a better future” Young Leaders Academy for Trade Unions

Promotion of youth participation continues: 2nd edition of the Young Leaders Academy for Trade Unions



“Young Leaders for a better future” Young Leaders Academy for Trade Unions

Young Leaders for a better future - MENA Young Leaders Academy for Trade Unions




Training for female Trade Unionist

Capacity building of female trade unionist from Bahrain and Oman.




The regional meeting for the Migrant Domestic Workers in the MENA region

The meeting was attended by 10 leaders representing 8 domestic workers’ groups from the MENA region. From the 10 leaders, 9 are MDWs (8 females and 1…


Thomas Claes

Project Director

+216 71 775 343

Asma Guitouni

Regional Program Manager



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