“Everyone has the right to work, to free choice, to employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.” – The United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Article 23.1)

A flagman directs traffic on highway under construction

Everybody may have the right to work, but sadly at this juncture globalization has made employment opportunities fewer than was the case when the authors of the Declaration of Human Rights penned that document. Huge multinational companies now hold the power to control wages and working conditions around the world. Thankfully here in Canada there are regulations that govern the safety of workers. I fear though that as employment becomes more difficult for people to obtain that safety rules may be ignored.

I am also concerned about working conditions internationally. Developing countries are dealing with issues of government corruption and desperation for jobs that have led to such tragedies as the Bangladesh garment factory collapse in 2013, which caused the deaths of over a thousand workers. The power of unions has been reduced with the reality of a global economy whereby powerful multinational industries can pick up and move to where wages are more cost efficient. This leaves workers, both nationally and internationally, at the mercy of corporate giants. Fear of poverty is very real in today’s world. So as we celebrate Labour Day I hope we will stop and remember it is only in unity and solidarity with all workers that we have any hope of a better world for all.


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