Celebrate December 10th – International Human Rights Day
Most of us don’t give much thought to the basic rights and freedoms that we, as Canadians, enjoy every day. We are extremely fortunate to live in a society that values and protects the rights to freedom of opinion and expression, peaceful assembly, and the ability to take part in the political process.
On December 10th, which marks International Human Rights Day, we celebrate these often-forgotten privileges that make up the very foundation of our democratic society. Of course, labour rights are also integral to human rights: they help promote the social and economic wellbeing of citizens.
International Human Rights Day has been recognized on December 10th around the world to mark the day in 1948 when the United Nations’ General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Two fundamental rights that are enshrined in this document are the right to freedom of association, and the right to join a union and bargain collectively.
Those rights are now under attack here in Canada – and more locally, here in Nova Scotia, with the advent of Bill 1 – and we need to stand up and fight back to protect them.
Over the past three decades, we have seen a serious erosion of our rights to organize as a union and engage in full, free collective bargaining, as both federal and provincial governments have passed a number of laws that have restricted, suspended or denied collective bargaining rights for Canadian workers.
Following suit of some of the Southern States, we see more and more Canadian jurisdictions considering and implementing “right to work” legislation, which is designed to deliberately weaken unions. These laws lower wages and benefits for worker, and while they create a climate for businesses to increase profits, the workers and communities suffer, and government revenues from income and sales tax ultimately fall, along with those workers’ wages. This means that governments have less funding available for valuable public services like education, transportation infrastructure, and health care.
So, we ask that on Human Rights Day this year, you take a moment to find out how you can support labour rights, which are a fundamental human right, here in Nova Scotia.