The World Confederation of Labour or WCL is an international trade union confederation
of 144 trades unions from 116 countries with over 26 million members. Its head office is
located in Brussels, Belgium and it is the world's oldest existing international trade
It was founded in 1920 at The Hague in the Netherlands as the International
Federation of Christian Trade Unions or IFCTU, adopting a statement of principles based
on the basic values of Christian humanism. The IFCTU opposed the right-wing totalitarian
ideology of Fascism and Nazism and paid the price as its affiliates in Austria,
Germany and Italy were banned and many of its leaders persecuted and deported to
After World War II the victorious allies convened a conference held at Paris, in October
1945 where the World Federation of Trade Unions was formed, the IFCTU declined an
invitation to join and preferred to remain independent.
In the post war period, Europe was divided between East and West and the IFCTU was
unable to promote its brand of Christian unionism in the Communist East. The World
Federation of Trade Unions soon divided as well, with the non-communist unions leaving to
form the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions. The IFCTU again declined to
join with the ICFTU, preferring the independence to criticise the "perverse effects both
of communism and capitalism".
In 1968 it decided to abandon its specifically Christian ideology with a more ecumenical
approach and adopted its new name, the "World Confederation of Labour" and a new Declaration
of Principles which calls for
"either a spiritual concept based on the conviction that man and universe are created by
God, or other concepts that lead together with it to a common effort to build a human
community united in freedom, dignity, justice and brotherhood".
Information drawn from the World Confederation of Labour website at http://www.cmt-wcl.org/; unfortunately the page relating to member organisation is broken but the following are affiliates;