Member area

Trade unions back the fight against corruption and support whistleblowers

28 March 2024

OECD countries must urgently step-up action to tackle corruption and cultivate integrity.

The OECD 2024 Anti-Corruption and Integrity Outlook reveals significant shortcomings in countries anti-corruption and bribery policies.

Action is urgently needed. Corruption deepens inequalities, weakens economic growth and erodes the resilience and proper functioning of democracies, and can lead to the capture of legislative and regulatory processes, resulting in rules being made in the interest of the few rather than the wider public interest.

Beyond areas such as human resources management and public procurement, the OECD report shows that anti-corruption strategies must actively address emerging corruption and integrity risks, such as those related to climate action (including false emission reduction claims and fake carbon reduction projects).

Most importantly, countries must move from words to action and ensure that international standards as well as domestic rules and regulations are actively implemented in practice and that effective mechanisms are in place to investigate and punish wrongdoing and protect whistleblowers.

According to the OECD, most of its members have adopted a strategic approach to anti-corruption and integrity. However, the average implementation rate of planned activities is only 67%. Similarly, despite having strong regulations on conflict of interest, OECD countries have implemented an average of only 40% of standard practices in this area. Many OECD members are not adequately collecting data and information on the implementation of their anti-corruption and integrity frameworks.

Establishing robust and effective whistleblowers protection mechanisms is an essential element in the enforcement of effective anti-bribery, fraud and corruption.

“Trade unions are central in the fight against corruption and bribery. Workers are well-placed to expose wrong-doing but need adequate support and protection. Trade unions are in a good position to advise and support whistleblowers, and act as whistleblowers themselves.”

— Veronica Nilsson, General Secretary, TUAC

Global union Public Services International took part in a panel on whistleblowers protection in collaboration with TUAC as part of the OECD Global Forum on Anti-Corruption and Integrity Forum on March 28 2024.

As well as whistleblower anonymity and protection against reprisals, the discussion highlighted the importance of access to information and advice to ensure that whistleblowing is done through the appropriate channels, in a timely and responsible manner, and wrongdoing is dealt with in the best way possible. Support for whistleblowers should include compensation for legal and other costs as well as psychological help.

On all these issues trade unions can play a useful role, as acknowledged  in the 2022 Conclusions of the ILO Technical meeting on the protection of whistle-blowers in the public service sector.

“TUAC will actively engage with the OECD and its members to promote the effective implementation of anti-corruption and whistleblowing laws, the protection and support of whistleblowers and the role that trade unions can play in tackling corruption.”

— Veronica Nilsson