To mark Human Rights Day on 10 December, UNISON will take part in a ‘route of shame’ in London by visiting a number of embassies and high commissions with poor records on workers’ rights. A letter will be delivered by hand to the residing ambassador/high commissioner protesting their country’s abysmal record in promoting and protecting rights.
The ‘route of shame’ will include the embassies of Bahrain, Colombia, South Korea, Qatar and Turkey, and the high commission of Swaziland. These countries systematically deny rights to workers, and actively seek to undermine, or ban outright, the trade union movement.
By doing this action on Human Rights Day, UNISON wants to draw attention to the growing deterioration of workers’ rights around the world, to encourage trade union members and others to show solidarity with trade unionists and workers whose rights are under threat, and to name and shame the countries that are the worst offenders.
Members are encouraged to take part by changing their profile pic for the day using the orange ribbon or jpeg or uploading photos of yourself with the attached poster. Use the hash tags #WorkersRights #HumanRights
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights protects the right to freedom of assembly and association, the right to join a trade union as well as other fundamental workers’ rights. The International Labour Organisation (ILO), an agency of the United Nations, has, for nearly a hundred years adopted conventions that promote and protect workers’ rights. Despite many countries’ paper commitments to guarantee these rights, the reality for many workers, especially those who choose to join a trade union, is the opposite. Systematic abuses of workers’ rights have resulted in trade unionists being the victims of killings, violence, disappearances, intimidation, harassment and blacklisting. More recently, a number of countries, including the UK, have sought to legislate to limit the ability of trade unions to operate as free, civil society organisations. These developments contravene international law, and as such, must be challenged.
UNISON will notify sister unions in those countries where trade unions operate, and in countries where trade unions are banned we will write to solidarity groups and labour rights organisations letting them know that we are taking action in solidarity with their members. The day of action will link to a number of campaigns and organisations promoting workers’ rights or calling for the release of imprisoned trade unionists.
Profile pics on social media will all carry the orange ribbon signifying observation of Human Rights Day. We will be encouraging activists to post photos on social media of themselves holding a poster proclaiming #WorkersRights are #HumanRights.
The letters from UNISON will be presented to the embassies by Liz Snape MBE who is assistant general secretary of UNISON and the president of the TUC. The letters will appear on the UNISON website as they are being handed into the embassies.