Labour rights are human rights: UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights | National Union of Public and General Employees

Labour rights are human rights: UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights

"The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) has always held the belief that labour rights are human rights. It's a core value that inspires our work every day." — Larry Brown, NUPGE President

Ottawa (10 Dec. 2018) — December 10 marks the 70th anniversary of the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Declaration, proclaimed on December 10, 1948, was one of the UN’s first major achievements, and remains a powerful instrument and symbol worldwide.

The Declaration of Human Rights and the labour movement

The Declaration acts as a common standard of achievements for all peoples and all nations and spells out fundamental human rights to be universally protected. Today, the Declaration remains an important cornerstone in the fight for labour rights around the globe. Article 23 of the Universal Declaration recognizes the right to join a union and bargain collectively as a basic human right and a cornerstone of democracy.

In Canada, the protection of labour rights was cemented even further with the 2015 Labour Trilogy verdicts. Passed by the Supreme Court of Canada, those decisions confirmed that Canadian workers have constitutional rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms to join a union of their own choosing, to participate in collective bargaining, and to take strike action.

Labour rights are human rights

NUPGE stands with Public Service International’s statement that, “Violations of trade union rights constitute fundamental and existential threats to the human rights, dignity and economic interests of public sector unions and their members. They undermine democracy and the provision of quality public services.”

A violation of trade union rights is a violation of human rights. The Declaration leaves no room for discussion. But labour rights aren’t the only area of the Declaration that NUPGE engages with. Union members shouldn’t stop benefiting from the work of unions just because they’re off the clock. NUPGE is proud to continue fighting for movements that go beyond equality in the workplace to eliminate discrimination and abuse once and for all.


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