Toronto – December 8, 2018 – This December 10, Human Rights Day, marks the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Declaration points to equality, dignity, and access to justice as foundations of fundamental human rights to be universally protected.
There are 30 articles to the Declaration, ranging from the right to life, liberty and security; to freedom of speech; to equality under the law and more.
Article 23 of the Declaration focuses on work:
(1) Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.
(2) Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work.
(3) Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself/herself and family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection.
(4) Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.
Seven decades after they were written, these principles remain central to building a secure, just and thriving community: safe and decent jobs; pay equity; fair pay and a social safety net; and the right to join a union and bargain collectively.
The Declaration of Human Rights is not just the conscience of an equitable society. It has been a road map to building one. Along that route came universal health care, health and safety regulations, paid overtime, and many other benefits for all Canadians – because of the efforts of the labour movement and union members. These achievements must be protected and extended, particularly in the face of anti-worker politicians ready to attack the fundamental and hard-fought rights of working families.
The drafters of the Declaration understood that work is the foundation of prosperity, and that to create a prosperous, equitable community means ensuring that the rights of workers, along with other rights, must be universally respected. This December 10th let us recommit to all the Declaration’s principles in advancing equality, justice and dignity in our communities and across the land.
Paul R. Meinema