Thursday, April 23, 2009

Labour movement addresses the Assembly

Today, Hassan Yussuff, Secretary Treasurer of the Canadian Labour Congress addressed the UN Assembly during the final days of the UN Durban Review Conference.

His inputs were made on behalf of the Canadian Labour Congress, Education International, International Trade Union Confederation and Public Services International.

Here is the text of his inputs.

Joint statement of
Canadian Labour Congress
Education International
International Trade Union Confederation
Public Services International

Durban Review Conference
Geneva, April 20-24, 2009

Delivered by Hassan Yussuff
Secretary Treasurer, Canadian Labour Congress

Thank you for this moment to speak.

Moments in time, though fleeting hold tremendous implications.

The Secretary General welcomed us an important message about the significance of the review conference.

He made clear, now is the moment when we must stand firm on the fundamental principles that bind us.

We have no other choice but to act in ways that demonstrate human rights and dignity for all.

We all face immense social, economic and environmental challenges in this moment. If not now… when will be the moment when we equally and without evasion, truly eliminate racism, discrimination and related intolerance?

The Secretary General appeared to be talking to my country’s empty seat – Canada when he said, “Some nations, who by rights should be helping to forge a path to better future, are not here.”

The international trade union movement knows that leaving the table is not an option.

The international trade union movement has been challenging racism and discrimination in workplaces and our communities for a long time.

Some of our best practices include successful workplace training programs and collective agreement protections that support and advance human rights.

We continue to stand in solidarity with too many who forfeited their lives in the defence of human rights.

Our commitment to this struggle is long standing.

Though we don’t see trade unions reflected in the text, we know our presence lives in the DDPA and we will hold our governments accountable to rid workplaces and communities of the ugly thing that brought us all here.

The text and the DDPA will be tools we will use to combat and eradicate the worst of ideologies –the mistaken notion that some are not equal.

No document is perfect, and it is with great regret that still some categories of people vulnerable to racism, xenophobia and discrimination have received an inadequate measure of justice for reasons of cast, sexual orientation or gender.

It is unfortunate the Millennium Development Goals were not framed as a key link to unshackle us from the bonds of system forms of racism and xenophobia.

We will continue to monitor and admonish governments who failed to sign, ratify or implement international mechanisms such as ILO standards; the Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, rights of people with disabilities or migrant worker’s rights.

We will use DDPA and the DRC outcome document to pressure our governments to ensure we all have access to decent jobs; good working conditions;; equal pay for equal work; end the persistence of discrimination in the world of work which for too long has enabled racial discrimination.

My time is nearly up, let’s hope ours is not.

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