UFCW Canada activists and allies across the country have reinvigorated their commitment to the Equal Rights NOW for Ontario Agworkers! campaign following a finding by the International Labour Organization (ILO) that names Canada and Ontario in violation of human rights.
Joining over 250,000 UFCW Canada members and activists, progressive political leaders at the federal and provincial level are calling on right wing governments to answer for the violation of fundamental freedoms that has become an international embarrassment. Shortly after the decision, Olivia Chow, federal Member of Parliament for Trinity—Spadina, challenged the Harper government “to respect human rights”, and Andrea Horwath, Leader of the Ontario NDP, drew attention to the ILO ruling by calling on the McGuinty Liberals “to stop violating international standards”.
“Having the right to collectively bargain is crucial for workers – and for agriculture workers in particular – to protect themselves in the workplace and to improve living standards," says UFCW Canada National President Wayne Hanley. “As workers, we must have governments in Ontario and all across Canada that respect our rights and put our needs before the special interests of employer groups like the powerful farm lobby,” added Brother Hanley, who was present in the Ontario legislature when Andrea called on the Ontario Liberal government to “do the right thing” by respecting the collective bargaining rights of agriculture workers.
NUPGE, which represents over 340,000 workers, also reconfirmed its commitment to the Equal Rights NOW! campaign and joined the growing number of Canadians in blasting the Harper and McGuinty governments for refusing to accept that labour rights are human rights.
“The right of all workers to join a union and bargain collectively has been the most fundamental ILO principle throughout its 91-year history”, says NUPGE President James Clancy, who called the UN agency’s ruling "great news" for farm workers and for UFCW Canada in its long fight to achieve collective bargaining rights for them.
“Shame on Premier McGuinty and shame on Prime Minister Harper for allowing Canada's human rights reputation to be sullied internationally. It’s appalling that they are prepared to deny the basic human rights of these workers just to appease the agricultural industry here in Ontario," added Brother Clancy.
“The ILO has ruled that not only do people have the right to engage in collective bargaining, but they also have the right to succeed at concluding a union contract," says Canadian Labour Congress Executive Vice-President Barb Byers, who also serves the Canadian labour movement as one of 14 worker representatives on the governing body of the ILO.
UFCW Canada activists, friends and supporters can help fight back by checking the Equal Rights NOW for Ontario Agworkers! campaign webpage regularly, and by sharing updates with family friends, and coworkers, along with their social networks in Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.
Vol. X No. 47 • November 29, 2010