"In Canada, we have the privilege of being able to dissent without the devastating consequences Filipinos face everyday: intimidation, violence, and even death. We have the responsibility to draw attention to this situation and work in solidarity with our global allies to stop this abuse." — Larry Brown, NUPGE President
Ottawa (10 Dec. 2019) — In Canada, unions and unionized workers find themselves on the frontline of attacks from governments and employers alike. Many have had to challenge government decisions that violate freedom of association rights afforded by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. December 10 is recognized as the International Human Rights Day across the world marking the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Declaration, proclaimed on this date in 1948, was one of the United Nation's first major achievements, and remains a powerful instrument and symbol worldwide.
Labour rights are human rights
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) uses December 10 as an opportunity to highlight the fact that trade union rights are human rights everywhere. But in many places around the world, there is much danger in speaking out.
In the Philippines, state-led stigmatization of labour organizations for their ideologies has been going on for far too long, in contravention of the principle of freedom of association. Through the practice of “red-tagging,” labour organizations are labelled as legal fronts of an underground armed struggle movement and the arrested activists are routinely alleged of possessing firearms and ammunitions planted by state officers to justify fabricated charges. The recent raids and arrests worsen the existing coercive environment effectively preventing workers from forming and joining trade unions, and unions from pursuing legitimate activities.
“The international union family will not let this go. We are demanding that the government stop the killing and repression of trade unionists and receive the ILO mission to investigate the situation as a matter of urgency,” said Sharon Burrow, General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) of which NUPGE is a member.
NUPGE condemns attacks
"The National Union strongly condemns the recent raids and arrests of trade union leaders in the Philippines. The offensive by joint forces of the army and the police has once again targeted trade unions and labour organizations. This is unacceptable behaviour," said Larry Brown, NUPGE President.
"Unions are targets around the world because we refuse to submit to the will of governments trying to suppress the rights of workers," said Brown. "In Canada, we have the privilege of being able to dissent without the devastating consequences Filipinos face everyday: intimidation, violence, and even death. We have the responsibility to draw attention to this situation and work in solidarity with our global allies to stop this abuse."
For more information on the situation in the Philippines, please refer to the ITUC website.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 390,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. — NUPGE