What is the course about?

This FREE online course provides unionists, scholars, and practitioners from around the world with critical knowledge on the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on workers in global supply chains and labour’s response to protect workers. The course also explores some of the key questions in rethinking the global supply chains as well as labour’s proposals and policy measures to build them anew.

The course consists of:

  • Focused video lectures by international experts from academia, trade unions and civil society at large;

  • Key readings selected by the experts;

  • Discussion and quiz questions to help the course participants to reflect how the knowledge received through the lectures applies to their local context;

  • Zoom workshops for each unit to enable course participants to engage directly with the course experts.

  • Thematic webinars on the main topics of this course featuring international experts.

Course structure

Chapter 1: Covid-19 crisis in global supply chains: Introduction

This chapter provides a general overview of the main challenges posed and exposed by Covid-19 in global supply chains and the effect on workers.

Chapter 2: The house of Cards: The structural weaknesses of the global supply chain model

The chapter 2 offers a comprehensive analysis of the systemic dysfunctionalities in the ‘raise to the bottom’ model of global supply chains. Trade and tax regimes, price and time squeeze practices, environmental sourcing and on the shareholder model of multinational companies – have all played a key role in this model with very serious economic, social and environmental consequences. The analysis of the current model of global supply chains echoes the imperialism debate and dependency theory of the last century. The chapter concludes with a discussion on the failure of macho authoritarian leaders in dealing with the Covid-19 crisis.

Chapter 3: The impact of Covid-19 on garment supply chains: Labour’s response

This chapter turns to the specific issues of different segments of garment supply chains from crop to shop. In each unit, the impact Covid-19 outbreak on workers is used as a point of departure to highlight the systematic problems affecting workers in cotton growing, garment production, seafaring, distribution and retail. Each unit contains also examples of how labour at various segments of garment supply chain has mobilised to protect workers from the effects of the pandemic.

Chapter 4: The impact of Covid-19 on other global supply chains: Labour’s response

It contains a similar analysis to the previous but for other sectors in global supply chains such as slaughterhouses, agriculture food production, electronics, cut flower and platform workers.

Chapter 5: Looking Forward: A labour perspective on key demands, strategic response and policy proposals

Finally, this chapter focuses on the way forward. It provides a discussion on key policy proposals and strategic responses from the international trade unions movement and labour-support organisations on how to regulate GSCs. The chapter also covers a more elaborate analysis of some of these policy proposals, such as those pertaining to labour markets, industrial policy and trade regimes.

What do I need to know?

The course requires a working level of English. It draws on the fields of social, political and economic sciences at the level of a Masters’ programme. However, the concepts are explained in an accessible and well-illustrated way, so it is also possible to participate in the course using skills and knowledge acquired outside formal education.

Course workload

The estimated workload is 5-6 hours per week if you read also the key reading for each unit.

Certificates and Scholarships

You can enrol and complete this course for FREE.

If you wish, you can also obtain a Certificate of Participation. This Certificate is an official document issued by iversity, which states that you have participated in the course. It contains your name, the time when you took the course, a short information about the course content and the logo of the GLU and iversity.

Requirements to obtain a Certificate of participation

You need to complete the course before you can purchase a Certificate of Participation, which costs 29€. To complete the course, you need to watch all the videos, respond to the quiz questions of each video and read the chapter summaries.


If you are from a non-OECD country or a trade unionist from an OECD country, you can apply for a scholarship, by sending an email to online@global-labour-university.org indicating your organisation and the country you are from.

Please complete the course before applying for a scholarship.

How to use the course materials?

You can organise a local workshop on the topics of the course combining the course materials with local experts from trade unions, labour research institutes and universities.

If you work for a university, trade union or any other labour-related institution you are welcome to integrate the course material into your education and training programmes. All video lectures and interviews, readings, online resources, and exercises can be downloaded separately and used for free.

Course Team

Dr. Jeremy Anderson, Head of Strategic Research, International Transport Workers’ Federation

Prof. Dr. Mark Anner, Professor of Labor and Employment Relations, and Political Science, Penn State University, USA

Leo Baunach, Director, International Trade Union Confederation and Global Unions Office

Walter Belik, Professor of Economics, University of Campinas, Brazil

Kiril Buketov, Program Coordinator, International Union of Food Workers

Liz Blackshaw, Director of Global Campaigns, International Transport Worker's Federation

Marlese von Broembsen, Director of the Law Programme, Women in the Informal Economy, Globalising and Organising

Dr. Luis Campos, Coordinator of the Social Rights Observatory of the Argentinian Workers Union (CTA-A)

Laila Castaldo, Senior Coordinator, UNI Global Union

Alejandro González, International Coordinator, GoodElectronics Network

Christina Hajagos-Clausen, Director, IndustriAll Global Union

Dr. Jayati Ghosh, Professor of Economics at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, India

Prof. Dr. Hansjörg Herr, Professor Emeritus, Berlin School of Economics and Law, Germany

Dr. Frank Hoffer, Non-executive Director, Global Labour University Online Academy

Dr. Kjeld Aagaard Jakobsen, lecturer at the GLU Masters Program, University of Campinas (UniCamp), Brazil

Prof. Dr. Praveen Jha, Professor for Economics, Jawaharlal Nehru University, India

Paolo Marinaro, Postdoctoral Scholar, Center for Global Worker's Rights

Scott Nova, Executive Director, Worker Rights Consortium

Seth Payer, Strategic Researcher, International Transport Workers’ Federation

James Ritchie, Assistant General Secretary, International Union of Food Workers (IUF)

Nick Rudikoff, Campaigns Director, UNI Global Union

Prof. Dr. Christoph Scherrer, Professor for Globalization and Politics, Social Science Department, University of Kassel, Germany

Prof. Dr. Melisa R. Serrano, Director of Center for Labor Justice, School of Labor and Industrial Relations
(SOLAIR), University of the Philippines

Dr. Edlira Xhafa, Executive Director, Global Labour University Online Academy

Ineke Zeldenrust, International Coordinator, Clean Clothes Campaign

Course instructors

Selected Course Reviews

Overall Rating 5.0 (4 students)

Ms V.S.MANIATI maniati
10 months
Edlira Xhafa
10 months
Matija Barisic
10 months
Brian Anthony Gumiran
about 1 month