World AIDS Day focuses on action in the workplace

'HIV and AIDS continue to reap a deadly toll. For every two new people who get treatment, five more are infected.'

Ottawa (1 Dec. 2010) - Today is World AIDS Day.

Trade unions around the world are using the occasion to call for a renewed international commitment to tackle the pandemic that still accounts for an estimated 5,000 deaths every day.

Unions will highlight this year's theme, Universal Access and Human Rights, to build awareness of the social nature of the disease. HIV transmission occurs mainly in conditions of poverty, gender inequality and a lack of social injustice.

The union movement is intensifying its push for national implementation of the new International Labour Organization (ILO) Recommendation 200 on HIV and AIDS and the World of Work.

This landmark ILO instrument breaks new ground by providing a framework for HIV and AIDS to be dealt with as a workplace issue and by reinforcing the human rights impact of the pandemic.

While funding for HIV and AIDS has been reduced by the global recession, the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is joining with other members of the global labour movement to emphasize that AIDS as a disease has not been contained by setbacks in the global economy.

"HIV and AIDS continue to reap a deadly toll," says NUPGE president James Clancy. "For every two new people who get treatment five more are infected."

NUPGE joins with Sharan Burrow, general secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), in calling on governments around the world to give full recognition to the human rights dimension of HIV and AIDS and the key role of non-discrimination legislation in reducing infection rates and ensuring fairness and equality for all those affected. 

The main points on which unions are seeking action include:

  • Legislative initiatives to prevent HIV-related discrimination in recruitment and employment.
  • Creation of income opportunities for HIV-affected workers and their families, including for migrant workers and those in informal and unprotected work.
  • Social protection without discrimination on the basis of real or perceived HIV status.
  • Confidentiality, privacy and freedom from mandatory workplace HIV testing.
  • Action to implement ILO Recommendation 200 to link it to respect for other ILO standards, in particular those relating to freedom of association and collective bargaining and discrimination.
  • Strengthening of labour inspection and administration regimes.
  • Emphasis on the regional and national dimensions of action to combat HIV and AIDS.

"Medical science alone will never be enough to stop this pandemic," says the ITUC.


The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 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

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