Update on EU Qatar scandal : ITUC General Council – Extraordinary Meeting

The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) might seem a little removed from our down-to-earth trade union activities here in Sheffield, but it is the global head of our great movement and it should concern us that it has got dragged into the EU Qatar Corruption scandal which has seen leading EU figures arrested and €1.5M of bribery cash confiscated by Belgian police.
Also detained was Luca Visentini, who just last month became Secretary General of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC). Before that, he was the longtime chief of the European Trade Union Confederation. (He didn’t have to move for the new role: Both the global and the European organizations are based at the same address in Brussels, on Rue Albert II.). He has subsequently been released.

Builders’ unions have been some of the top critics of Qatar’s record on worker’s rights in the lead-up to the World Cup. But even before Visentini took over, ITUC was a notable exception. Sharan Burrow, the previous ITUC chief, urged external critics of the country’s labor laws to “go and have a look at a look at the change” in a video posted by the Qatari labor ministry in June.

Now, Luca Vinsentini has admitted accepting an envelope containing €50,000 from the NGO Fight Impunity at the centre of the corruption scandal, founded by Pier Antonio Panzeri, a former MEP who is in jail facing corruption charges.


M. Vinsentini has been suspended from his post at a special ITUC General Council meeting  held this week. Owen Tudor who some will know as former International Director of the TUC will step into the role as Deputy General Secretary.

ITUC General Council – Extraordinary Meeting

The ITUC General Council held an extraordinary meeting on 21 December and decided to suspend Luca Visentini as ITUC General Secretary until it meets on 11 March when it will give further consideration to this matter. This in no way implies any presumption of guilt.

The Council will make a decision early in January on the question of an acting General Secretary in the interim. Until then, Deputy General Secretary Owen Tudor will fulfil the responsibilities of General Secretary.

The Council decided to establish two processes:

  1. An independent external audit of all financial questions concerning the circumstances relating to the allegations and of the ITUC’s financial rules and procedures; and,
  2. The establishment of a special Commission investigate the circumstances surrounding the allegations against Luca Visentini, including the results of the external audit, and possibly other matters.

The terms of reference for the two processes, and the composition of the special Commission, will be decided by the General Council in the shortest possible time-frame.

Reports from the audit, and from the special Commission with recommendations for action, will be considered by the General Council at its meeting on 11 March.

The General Council reiterated the ITUC’s total opposition to any form of corruption, and its determination to ensure strict prudential and other preventative measures. Where corruption exists, workers are among its principal victims.


The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) represents 200 million members of 338 affiliates in 168 countries and territories.

For more information, please contact the ITUC Press Department on +32 2 224 02 53 or by e-mail: press@ituc-csi.org


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