by Chris Jarvis
Yesterday was the International Human Rights Day, a brief moment when the world recognises and remembers the value and history of human rights. A central element to the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights — the founding document of contemporary human rights legislation and protection — are the rights of workers. Article 20 of the declaration enshrines the right to freedom of association — the right to join and form trades unions. Trade union rights are further guaranteed through Article 23, which also recognises the right to free choice of employment, fair and favourable working conditions, protection against unemployment, equal pay for equal work and fair remuneration for an individual’s labour.
Traditional narratives around human rights are that they are a result of the work of international declarations, legislative frameworks and statesmanlike politicians. Unsurprisingly, none of these are true. It’s important to acknowledge that human rights, and particularly the rights of workers, have rarely been gifted to us through benevolent leaders. Rather, they have been won after long fought battles and collective struggle.