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Labour and employers’ associations, corruption risks and the potential of social dialogues

Labour unions and employers’ associations can encounter particular corruption risks. Labour unions reportedly suffer mostly from internal corruption, where leaders are bribed by management and do not represent the workers’ interests or where they embezzle union funds. Corruption on the part of employers’ associations and business associations has been less documented, but scandals like the one uncovered by the Lava Jato investigations in Brazil show that companies, particularly in the same sector, can collude to coordinate corrupt activities. Labour unions and employers’ associations can also be vehicles for reform and there are a number of activities that they can undertake to curb corruption, not only inside their organisations but in general too. Social dialogues can provide the context and forum to discuss multi-stakeholder efforts to curb corruption and potentially drive forward anti-corruption reforms.

22 August 2022
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Main points

  • Labour unions can face generic corruption risks, like bribery and embezzlement, as well as risks emerging from the politicisation of unions. Additionally, racketeering has been widely covered in the media.
  • Business associations can act as coordination fora where companies agree upon collusive arrangements including corruption.
  • Social dialogue is any type of information exchange between employees and management – and in some cases the government as well – to achieve reform.

Cite this publication


Camacho, G.; (2022) Labour and employers’ associations, corruption risks and the potential of social dialogues. Bergen: U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre, Chr. Michelsen Institute (U4 Helpdesk Answer 2022:18)

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Gabriela Camacho

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All views in this text are the author(s)’, and may differ from the U4 partner agencies’ policies.

This work is licenced under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International licence (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)

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