"The National Union pledges our continued support and commitment to the struggle for full equality and respect for transgender people. Workers need to feel safe no matter their gender identity or expression." — Larry Brown, NUPGE President
Ottawa (20 Nov. 2018) — November 20 is the Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR). Events are held around the world to honour 2 spirit, transgender, non-binary and gender non-conforming who have been murdered because of their gender identity.
Unions have role to play in struggle for justice and equality
Thanks to the work of Egale, we know that 90 percent of transgender and gender diverse employees report experiencing workplace harassment and/or violence based on their gender identity and expression. Trans people, and in particular trans women of colour, continue to be disproportionately targeted by sexual harassment and violence.
"Discrimination and violence against transgender people must end," said Larry Brown, President of the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE). "The National Union pledges our continued support and commitment to the struggle for equality and respect for transgender people."
As part of the commitment to trans people, unions are continuing to improve conditions at work through collective bargaining, by securing rights for access to safe washrooms and change rooms and health benefit coverage for medical transition and hormone therapy. Education programs and resources help build awareness to support a safer environment for workers to transition. The Canadian Labour Congress has collaborated with Our Times labour magazine on a new to-do list for trans inclusion in the workplace. They will also be releasing an updated Workers in Transition guide in early 2019.
Unions have role to play in combating discrimination and hate everywhere
"Unions play an important role in the struggle for equality and human rights, not only at work, but across society as well," said Brown. "That's why the National Union joined many in the labour movement and supported Bill C-279, An Act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code (gender identity)."
Bill C-279 was a private member's bills amending the human rights legilsation and the Criminal Code to include gender identity. And later, Bill C-16 amended human rights legislation and Criminal Code to add gender expression to the list of prohibited grounds of discrimination. While almost all provinces and territories have made transgender protection explicit in their human rights legislation, more remains to be done.
Recently in Ontario, the Conservative Party recently passed a motion at its convention demanding that gender identity be removed from the school curriculum.
"It's terribly disappointing that anyone, let alone the governing party, would entertain such a discriminatory and uninformed point of view," said Brown. "We need to be fighting for fairness and equality, not reinforcing bigoted opinions."
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