December 9, 2016
December 10 is celebrated around the world as International Human Rights Day. It marks the anniversary of the United Nations’ adoption and proclamation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. This historic document is heralded for setting out fundamental human rights that would be universally protected and which set a common standard of achievement for all peoples and nations.
This year, Human Rights Day marks the launch of “Stand up for someone’s rights today” a year-long campaign to “encourage, support and amplify what people do in their everyday lives to stand up for human rights.” Many of us are fearful about the growth of disrespect for basic human rights. As extremist movements subject people to horrific violence, messages of intolerance and hatred prey on our fears.
The time is to take a stand for human rights is now, or we all lose. Wherever we are, in the street, in school, at work, in public transport; in the voting booth, on social media, we can make a real difference.
Step forward and defend the rights of anyone being persecuted. Whether they are a refugee or migrant, a person living with disabilities, an LGBT person, a woman, a child, indigenous peoples, a minority group, or anyone else experiencing discrimination or violence.
The labour movement in Ontario and Canada has a long history of bringing workers together to stand side-by-side and demand better protections for all people. The OFL was created on the fundamental principle of promoting and protecting the human rights of all Ontarians.
Successful struggles to end child labour, win equal pay for women, establish health and safety protections and introduce a minimum wage are powerful reminders of the strength of working people and the responsibility the labour movement carries to defend and expand the rights of all.
On Human Rights Day, let us recommit to guaranteeing the fundamental freedoms and protecting the human rights of all in the workplace, and everywhere.
The OFL’s www.MakeItFair.ca campaign takes on issues of inequality in the workforce, and coincides with the province’s “Changing Workplaces Review.” The campaign gives voice to unions’ demands for across-the-board changes to the Employment Standards Act and the Labour Relations Act that would improve standards for every worker and make it easier for them to join a union.
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