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Work and Working in the Third World

All too often, we are faced with appalling and shocking images and reports about working conditions in the Third World - we hear about child labour, women's slave labour, injuries, and mutilations due to lacking safety measures at work. International trade union organizations, many non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and initiatives have been pointing out degrading and inhumane working and living conditions in Africa, Asia, and Latin America for decades. The International Labour Organization (ILO) and the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) have launched major campaigns against child labour.

It is of paramount importance for Germans and Europeans alike to gain access to information on Third World working conditions - through schools, adult education events, trade union education centres or church education institutions. The globalization evident in economic relations affects people on all continents, just as the hopes and, especially, fears linked to the phenomenon. Information helps people evaluate globalization's impacts, risks, and opportunities and understand the necessity for political and social efforts when it comes to globalization.
The Friedrich Ebert Foundation Library is home to one of Germany's largest collections of publications on trade unions, work and working conditions in the Third World - a vast pool of information available to anyone who is interested.

The arrangement according to subjects is intended to give users a quick and easy-to-assess overview of what is available. Titles have been chosen to provide basic information - in several languages - on various aspects of the subject area. Apart from recent titles, older publications were also selected in order to document the long debate on working and working conditions in the Third World.
Besides a selection of titles from the Library's (printed) stock and links to other sources and organizations found on the Internet, the user is provided with a vast array of information on the subject.

Further publications, in particular recent ones, can also be found in full text on the Friedrich Ebert Foundation's Web site on international trade union work at


We also recommend the "Trade Unions in the Third World" and "Human Rights/Human Rights Policy" (only in German) subject modules.

All rights for the publication of the full texts presented here lie with the Friedrich Ebert Foundation Library or have been granted to us. In some cases, however, we were not able to determine who holds certain rights. Should the identity of any holder of rights become known to us at a later date or should they contact us, we will endeavour to obtain their permission. Standing in for all other persons or groups, we would like to thank the German Trade Union Federation's Education Institution/North-South Network (DGB-Bildungswerk/Nord-Süd-Netz) for granting us the rights to publish many of their outstanding booklets on various subjects.
The authors and editors of the publications are responsible for their content, and the publications may not always reflect positions held by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation.
As usual, the Friedrich Ebert Foundation Library is highly interested in engaging users in a dialogue on this topic. Criticism and suggestions submitted by users are always welcome and will, if possible, have an impact on the updating and further development of this subject module.
If not stated otherwise, the photos and other illustrations presented on the pages of "FES Net Source: History and Policy" come from the Friedrich Ebert Foundation's Archive of Social Democracy (AdsD).

Rainer Gries
Deputy Manager of the
Friedrich Ebert Foundation Library

Work and Working in the Third World

Kenya: Tea picker
Source: Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, Rainer Gries