Deutscher Gewerkschaftsbund


Atlas of Work

Facts and figures about jobs, employment and livelihoods

Zeichnungen von Menschen bei Arbeit (von oben) auf einer Weltkarte

Ilya Rumyantsev/

Cover: Ellen Stockmar, Coverelements: Ilya Rumyantsev/


You can download the Atlas of Work here.

The ATLAS OF WORK is jointly published by Deutscher Gewerkschaftsbund (DGB, German Federation of Trade Unions), Berlin, Germany, and Hans Böckler Foundation (HBS), Düsseldorf, Germany.

For most of us, work is more than merely a means to earn our daily bread. Work usually defines our social status, not only through our incomes but also through our professions. Being able to work means social participation and integration into society. Throughout the world, people are debating the meaning of work and the values that are tied to it.

This Atlas of Work aims to present the range of labour relationships, without any claim to be exhaustive. It compares the systems in various countries and describes how working conditions can be shaped. It illustrates that we are far from assuring good working conditions and equal rights at work for all workers, and reveals where and how political action is needed.

The organization of working conditions ceased to be a purely national matter years ago. It has become an issue of international policies. Competition in tax regimes and capital markets have long steered investments and trade, thereby influencing national policies. It is the workers who are hardest hit when multinationals engage in systematic tax evasion and avoidance (shifting offices and factories to low-tax jurisdictions), and when capital markets fluctuate wildly or crash. Policy makers still lack adequate responses, whether at the national, European or international level.

Trade unions play an important role worldwide in shaping the working conditions of the present and the future. Employees are significantly better-off in countries where unions are strong and wherever there is worker’s representation and participation in a company Through collective bargaining, unions achieve not only pay increases; they also make forward-looking proposals on working time arrangements, further training and pension schemes. They drive political demands such as a national minimum wage and high occupational safety standards. Their international organisations support trade unionists around the globe. But in some countries unions are weak, and suppressed or even banned.

This Atlas of Work explains many aspects of how our working world is structured today, how it is in constant motion, and what opportunities we, especially policy makers, unions and civil society, have to change it. The Atlas offers a solid basis for discussion on the work of the future.



All diagrams and texts of the Atlas of Work: Creative Commons Lizenz CC BY 4.0 (

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