December 10th - International Human Rights Day

December 7, 2012, 11:45 AM EST

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The landmark document; U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights recognizes human rights are not the preserve of any one nation, or race, or gender but an entitlement for everyone, everywhere and always. This declaration has dedicated 30 articles to non-discrimination, equality, fairness and principles of universality. As trade unionists we know how important this is and the commitment it takes to speak up for fundamental rights in our workplaces and our communities. We also know how quickly these rights can be denied by those with power.

We have every reason to celebrate what we have achieved, but it would be a mistake to believe that the struggle for human rights ended on December 10, 1948 - when we adopted the U.N. declaration. We should use Human-Rights-Day, to assess how much more we still have to achieve before we can truly say that our entire society enjoys the rights we have won on paper. We cannot afford to be complacent. We need only look at issues facing migrant workers in Canada and around the globe, to see that there remains much to be achieved. Human rights must mean the right to decent, well-paying, safe, and secure jobs and must include workers right to mobility; to move freely just as capital does. Such rights must be extended to every worker in this country, regardless of citizenship.

CAW is especially alarmed about economic rights and rising injustice. Judicially or legislatively recognized rights are of little comfort if we have no work or we are forced to work in precarious jobs and face a life of crushing poverty. Legal rights don't put food on the table.

Despite the tremendous resources and wealth that exist in Canada so many of us face rising economic and social inequality. We must continue to fight for meaningful rights; we must work to reverse the trend of rising economic inequality. We can do this by building strong and independent trade unions whose activists recognize creating a more equal society is a process of gradually changing opinions, removing barriers and building new structures to support the process. We must work to turn our commitments made on paper, into real and meaningful concrete action. With the "New Union Project" the CAW and CEP are on that path.

On this International human rights day, let's reflect on our achievements and re-dedicate ourselves to the fundamental rights and freedoms for everyone by bringing new members into our union and building up our forces to wage war on those who are denying us our basic human rights.

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