The United Nations declared December 10 a Human Rights Day. The union movement reflects on one of those fundamental human rights.
ITUC Statement on Human Rights Day
Today, 64 years since the United Nations declared December 10 a Human Rights Day, the world is witnessing an unprecedented attack on one of the most fundamental human rights of all, the right to strike.
Virtually every country in the world recognises that workers have the right to take strike action. Some 90 countries have it enshrined in their national constitution.
From the first struggles for the 8-hour day and for fair wages, for safety and health at work, for weekly rest days and freedom from discrimination and exploitation at work, the fundamental right of working people to withdraw their labour has provided a crucial foundation for social and economic progress. And when people rise up against dictatorship and political oppression, their right to strike has always been, and always will be, a non-negotiable bedrock of democracy.
Only in the most totalitarian of dictatorships is the right to strike denied.
Employer organisations are now seeking to take away that right in international law. They intend to change the balance of power in the workplace and in society for the worse, and forever.
When democracy is expanding, workers and their unions have more space to work for economic and social justice and equality. When democratic space is being closed, as is happening in so many countries today, workers and their unions find themselves under attack.
For more than 100 years, when employers and governments have refused dialogue and negotiation and instead imposed their will, workers have still taken the step and faced the risks of withdrawing their labour. That will not change.
Taking away the right to strike removes the final bulwark against oppression. The international trade union movement is firm in its resolve to resist the assault on this most basic right. We are the force of opposition, and we are the force of progress.
Taking away the right to strike would turn us all into slaves. We will not allow that to happen.
PSI Statement: Stand for democracy at work on Human Rights Day!
"Everyone must enjoy full access to decent work, education, health, safety and peace," says Rosa Pavanelli, PSI General Secretary. On International Human Rights Day, PSI calls on its affiliates and activists to unite and stand firm against the attack on core labour rights and freedoms.
Over the last few years, an unprecedented attempt to limit freedom of association and the right to strike has unfolded within the International Labour Organization (ILO). Since 2012, the employers' organizations have tried to rule out the right to strike.
As a result, the very essence of democracy at work is at risk, with additional pressure for trade unions at the national level.
Not surprisingly, precarious work is on the increase almost everywhere while social protest tends to be criminalised, seriously threatening the achievements of social dialogue.
With the support of international financial institutions and lobbied by corporate interests, governments continue to pursue an ultra-liberal agenda, along with failing austerity measures.
Yet, the trade union movement keeps fighting.
Workers' organisations are at the forefront in opposing a new wave of trade agreements that might commodify public services and question national sovereignty, while benefiting multinationals, instead of the workers and taxpayers.
Trade unions keep mobilising for tax justice, calling for an end to tax havens, tax competition and to tax breaks for international companies that do not create jobs, but rather destroy them.
The trade union movement continues to build bridges across borders, striving to ensure living wages and decent working conditions for millions of migrant workers.
"From the attack on democracy at work to the dismantlement of public services, there seems to be a coordinated strategy eroding some fundamental human rights," says Rosa Pavanelli, General Secretary of PSI.
"Amongst the many challenges ahead, millions of people are also deprived of their rights because of natural disasters, the impact of climate change and endless conflicts."
"PSI remains strongly committed to ensure that the international community pursues real sustainable development goals and that everyone enjoys full human rights, such as decent work, education, health, safety and peace."