Focus of meeting on building strong network of equality and human rights activists across the country
Ottawa (2 March 2009) – Equality and human rights activists from Components of the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) met in Ottawa last Friday to discuss how to defend and expand equality and human rights at work during the current economic downturn.
“It’s crucial that we not take a step backwards on equality and human rights issues during tough economic times,” noted Lorene Oikawa, vice–president of the B. C. Government and Service Employees’ Union (BCGEU/NUPGE) and a participant at the meeting. “And the best way to ensure this does not happen is to build a strong national network of equality and human rights activists within NUPGE and its Components.”
Participants committed to expand the distribution list for the National Union’s Equality and Human Rights E-Bulletin, which provides news, research and trends on equality and human rights issues within NUPGE and its Components. The E-Bulletin is an information-sharing and communication vehicle to promote the various human rights and equality projects that the union is working on.
The importance of the National Union’s public policy work and its relation to equality and human rights was also discussed at the meeting. Participants encouraged the National Union to continue making the strong connection between its work on labour rights, community social services, poverty, income support and labour market policies and the important issues they work on as human rights and equality activists.
A new series of equality and human rights posters produced by the National Union was presented to the participants. Each poster commemorates one of the national and international human rights and equality days that NUPGE and its Components celebrate each year. The first in the series highlighted African Heritage Month (February) and the next to be released will be for March 21, the International Day for the Elimination of Racism.
The theme of the poster series is “Full Human Rights for All” and each poster contains the same important message:
Full human rights for all include:
• the right to organize and bargain collectively;
• a national network of community-based services that allow us to fully participate in society;
• an end to poverty and homelessness; and
• elimination of discrimination in respect of employment.
Participants also had the opportunity to share information and brief each other on the various equality and human rights activities and projects they are working on in their Component union and the broader human rights community in their respective province.
“Our job as activists is to promote, maintain and strengthen the union’s agenda around equality and human rights issues”, noted Philip Shearer, chair of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union's (OPSEU/NUPGE) Human Rights Committee. “This meeting has been helpful in that respect as it has provided the opportunity to learn and share with each other from across the country much of the human rights work we’re involved in on behalf of our members.”