Sub-principle 1.C

Invest in capacities for PSE through development co-operation


Why is it important?


Partnerships with private sector actors in development co-operation can prove challenging to traditional ways of working and for the different stakeholders involved. To be effective, trade unions need to identify their capacity constraints (in terms of skills, funding, etc.) and their strengths (representativeness, workplace focused, knowledge and capacity for action on labour rights, standards, social equity, ability to institutionalise social dialogue platforms) to provide a watchdog role around PSE and build the capacity of all actors involved in PSE projects. 

Self-reflection questions
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  • Have you been campaigning or raising awareness with development partners, national governments and partners from the private sector on the importance of respecting labour rights and the rule of law and upholding social dialogue in PSE projects?
  • Do you offer trainings to other stakeholders like civil society organisations or local authorities on labour rights, social justice and other standards on effectively engaging with development partners around PSE implementation and acting as a watchdog? 
  • Do you build the capacity of sister unions and associations and your own staff to effectively engage as a watchdog in PSE projects and partnerships, and help institutionalise social dialogue platforms that discuss PSE projects or programmes?
  • Have you developed guidelines for development partners and other stakeholders to ensure labour rights and due diligence are respected in the formulation, implementation and assessment of projects with the private sector?

Actions to consider
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  • Support capacity-building activities with development partners to facilitate engagement with relevant actors.
  • Raise awareness and share knowledge and hone skills among all partners in PSE projects about the relevance of labour rights, responsible business conduct, and social and climate justice.
  • Build your own capacity to strengthen your role as a watchdog or facilitator of labour rights capacity building as well as of social dialogue in PSE projects.
  • Generate adequate resources from development partners to support your efforts in training and capacity building.

Pitfalls to avoid
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  • Treat capacity building as a one-size-fits-all approach for partners in PSE projects. PSE actors are diverse and may have different backgrounds and understandings of labour-related issues.


Trades Union Congress has partnered with Building and Woodworkers International (BWI) in Brazil and the Caribbean to help initiate discussions on violence against women as a trade union issue and facilitate solidarity between unions working on this issue in the United Kingdom and the region. The project has built the capacity of unions by increasing understanding of the structural causes of gender-based violence, sharing good practice, and providing training on developing and implementing digital campaigns to tackle this issue. Over 28 000 people have been reached by the digital campaigns developed as part of this project.

In Bangladesh, TUC Aid supported a two-phase project which trained over 420 women on issues including organising, collective bargaining, labour law, women’s rights, trade union rights, leadership, and health and safety. Following the first phase of the project with the National Garment Workers Federation and Danish Federation 3F, at least 20 women were elected to leadership positions in local unions.

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