Labour Rights Are Human Rights

December 10 is Human Rights Day, an annual celebration of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the United Nations on December 10, 1948. This December 10 begins a year-long campaign to mark the 70th anniversary of the Declaration.

The first document of its kind, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights proclaimed that every person is entitled to certain rights, simply because they are human, regardless of national origin, ethnic background, religion, creed, language, colour, gender, ability, legal status, or any other condition. It is the most translated document in the world, available in more than 500 languages.

Our human rights include our labour rights. Both the Universal Declaration and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms protect our right to organize and to collective bargaining. Yet in the last 30 years, there has been an ongoing erosion of these rights. According to the Canadian Foundation for Labour Rights, since 1982, 224 restrictive labour laws have been passed by federal and provincial governments.

Unless we work collectively to protect and expand our human rights, those rights will exist in name only. The best way to protect our rights at work has always been through labour unions. And labour unions have been on the forefront of every human rights struggle of our time, from equal pay regardless of gender, to LGBTQ recognition and equality, to the right to be free of violence and harassment in and out of the workplace.

As unionists, we continue the struggle for the rights of all workers, both union and nonunion, and for all people, regardless of their ability to work. When unions win, we all win.

You can read the Universal Declaration of Human Rights here. Please consider celebrating your human rights by participating in Amnesty International’s annual Write for Rights campaign.