No distinction whatsoever

Freedom to establish and join trade unions applies to all categories of workers and employers. These include: employees in the public service (civil servants, port employees, teachers, etc.), workers on probation, temporary workers and self-employed workers. There may be no distinction on the basis of occupation, sex, colour, race, creed, nationality, or political opinion.

Examples of prohibited distinctions

Citizenship restrictions aimed at:

  • Making citizenship a precondition for establishing or joining a trade union;
  • Requiring that a trade union should have a certain proportion of citizens as members;
  • Placing a condition of residence;
  • Placing a condition of reciprocity for non-citizens’ right to join a trade union.

Age restriction placed on minors’ right to organize where they may legally enter the labour market.

Political activities - restrictions placed on workers’ rights to become or remain a trade union member:

  • For professing certain political opinions for having engaged in political activities, except those advocating violence;
  • Because of membership of other political organizations.

Exception: armed forces and police

1. The extent to which the guarantees provided for in this Convention shall apply to the armed forces and the police shall be determined by national laws or regulations.

2. In accordance with the principle set forth in paragraph 8 of Article 19 of the Constitution of the International Labour Organization the ratification of this Convention by any Member shall not be deemed to affect any existing law, award, custom or agreement in virtue of which members of the armed forces or the police enjoy any right guaranteed by this Convention.

However, the members of the armed forces who can be excluded from the application of Convention No. 87 should be defined in a restrictive manner.

The following categories of workers are not armed forces or police and therefore also have the right to establish and join organizations: civilian workers in the manufacturing establishments of the armed forces; civilian staff working at the Army Bank; firefighters; prison guards.