Human Rights Day 2020

On Human Rights’ Day 2020, we must remember that the denial of human rights, including workers’ rights, is driving inequality, exclusion, despair and mistrust, while heightening global vulnerability to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lack of respect for workers’ basic right to safe and healthy workplaces is exposing frontline workers in many sectors and countries to avoidable Covid-19 infections, while lack of social protection or paid sick leave is forcing people to work when sick. This has terrible consequences both for them and for efforts to stop the virus spreading.

The 2020 ITUC Global Rights Index exposed a seven-year trend of growing violations of fundamental workers’ rights, including the rights to organise and bargain collectively, driving inequality to historic levels. This in turn is fuelling a dramatic erosion of trust in governments and democracy as revealed in the ITUC 2020 Global Poll.

Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary, said: “The world needs a new social contract, based on a foundation of human rights and rights at work with government support for mandated due diligence to hold corporations to account, some of which have extracted massive pandemic profits since Covid-19 took hold around the world.

“The public health emergency is also having disproportionate impacts on people facing discrimination, including women, ethnic minorities, migrant workers and others. For workers, and for economic recovery and resilience, we need to see the realisation of the vision enshrined in the ILO Centenary Declaration adopted last year. Governments voted for it, and now they need to turn that vision into reality. This must include making occupational health and safety a fundamental right at the International Labour Organization (ILO).

“We are seeing a continued erosion of freedom of association, speech and assembly in countries in every region of the world, and it is no coincidence that autocratic regimes and unscrupulous companies like Amazon target trade union activity. Trade unions are essential not only for justice at work and decent jobs, but also as defenders of the human rights that all people should be able to enjoy without fear. The Universal Declaration of Human Rightsstands as tall today as it did at its inception as the foundation for building a just future. The global trade union movement, standing with our sisters and brothers all over the world, will continue our fight for rights and equality.”