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Worker & Human Rights
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Respect for the clearly enshrined international legal rights afforded to all workers is at the foundation of democratic, economic, and social development. Solidarity Center programs promote the use of international human rights treaty instruments in support of worker rights.

Nigeria workers rally for a living wage. Photo: Nkechi Odinukwe

In an economic environment that prioritizes growth, ensuring human and worker rights is a major challenge. Strong trade unions must work to ensure that workers are able to exercise their full spectrum of rights, including International Labor Organization (ILO) Core Labor Standards. Trade unions have the unique ability to raise awareness of worker rights in the workplace, and to represent their workers by advocating for their rights at the national policy level.

Rule of law is the principle that a government exercises its authority in accordance with clear, objective, publicly disclosed laws, adopted and enforced through established procedures and enshrined in internationally recognized standards. It is the foundation of a democratic society—the means by which people protect their liberty in a society of equals and the means by which workers protect their rights. All workers deserve decent jobs, where they are treated with respect and dignity and paid a living wage. Workers around the world are standing up for their rights and forming unions to make life better for themselves and their families. The Solidarity Center serves as a worldwide advocate for union activists, defending worker rights, administering training programs for organizing, sharing information with unionists, and providing support for struggling unions. 


Unions: World Bank Must Draft Stronger Worker Safeguards. October 31, 2014—Workers across Asia are taking to the streets this fall with protests against proposed World Bank policies that fall short of ensuring fundamental worker rights, like freedom of association and collective bargaining.

New Index Rates Quality, Quantity of Jobs Worldwide. October 20, 2014—A new data-driven online index launched by JustJobs Network, a nonpartisan global policy and research institute, highlights the need for sustainable employment and offers policymakers and other decision-makers worldwide a tool to help generate more and better jobs worldwide.

Kailash Satyarthi, Solidarity Center Ally, Wins Nobel. October 10, 2014—Labor and human rights activist and long-time Solidarity Center ally Kailash Satyarthi won the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize, the Nobel committee announced this morning.    

Building & Wood Workers Win Meany-Kirkland Award. October 10, 2014—The Building and Wood Workers’ International (BWI) and its affiliates received the 2014 AFL-CIO George Meany-Lane Kirkland Human Rights Award in a ceremony last night in Washington, D.C., where they were honored for their work in bringing justice to construction workers worldwide, specifically for the migrant workers whose labor makes global sporting events possible.

Uzbekistan among 13 Countries at Bottom of Child Labor Report
. October 9, 2014—In Uzbekistan, empty classrooms and children working in cotton fields during the annual fall cotton harvest contributed to the country’s ranking as among those with the worst forms of child labor in the world, according to a report released yesterday by the U.S. Department of Labor.

Gender Equality at the Heart of Decent Work
. October 7, 2014—Unions worldwide are mobilizing around World Day for Decent Work, held annually on October 7 to raise public and official awareness of the critical need for labor rights for the vast numbers of workers who toil in unsafe, unhealthy conditions; receive wages that cannot sustain them and their families; have no voice at work through union representation; and no access to retirement security, health care or other fundamental protections.

UN Development Report Stresses Full Employment, Decent Work
. August 7, 2014—Full employment should be a policy goal for all countries, regardless of level of development, according to the latest United Nations Development Program (UNDP) report.

UN Convention on Economic Rights a Powerful Tool for Workers
. June 2, 2014—A recent Solidarity Center analysis of Mexican laws and policies through the lens of a key international standard offers an example of how to utilize legal instruments to make positive change.

Report: 9 Countries Murder or 'Disappear' Workers Seeking Rights. May 21, 2014—Uruguay, South Africa and Germany are some of the countries with the best worker rights records in 2013, while Cambodia, Guatemala and Nigeria are among the worst, according the 2014 Global Rights Index released this week by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC).

21 Million in Forced Labor Create $150 Billion in Global Profit. May 21, 2014—Some 21 million women, men and children are in forced labor, trafficked, held in debt bondage or work in slave-like conditions worldwide, and their toil generates an estimated $150 billion in illegal profits in the private global economy, according to a new report.

May Day: Workers Demand Their Rights around the World. May 2, 2014— Union members in Bangladesh, Brazil, Iraq and Morocco were among Solidarity Center allies around the world who rallied, marched in parades and protested in the streets yesterday, marking May Day and the ongoing struggle to ensure workers have a place at the table in the larger global economy and at their workplaces.

May Day: Solidarity Center Fights for Worker Rights Worldwide. May 1, 2014—More than 100 years ago, workers striking for an eight-hour day and living wages declared May 1 an annual date for international labor rights to honor workers and raise awareness of their struggles.

Briefing: Decent Work for Adults Can Reduce Child Labor. April 9, 2014—Reducing and eliminating child labor requires a focus on decent work for adults, said Solidarity Center Executive Director Shawna Bader-Blau, speaking yesterday on Capitol Hill.

Bringing a Global Perspective to U.S. Labor Education Conference. March 27, 2013—Solidarity Center staff are leading workshops or presenting panels with a global focus at the 2014 conference of the US-based United Association for Labor Education (UALE), this week in Los Angeles.

Report: Freedom of Association Restrictions a Top Violation in 2013. February 28, 2014—Government restrictions and repression of citizens’ universal right to freedoms of assembly and association topped the list of violations in the State Department’s 2014 annual “Country Reports on Human Rights Practices.”

Report: 202 Million People Out of Work in 2013. January 22, 2014—Nearly 202 million people were unemployed in 2013 around the world, some 5 million more than in 2012, because the number of jobs is not keeping pace with the growing workforce.

Global Solidarity Highlights from AFL-CIO Convention. September 10, 2013—Trade unionists from dozens of countries are taking part in the quadrennial AFL-CIO Convention in Los Angeles this week—and the Los Angeles Times has video highlights of two international union leaders.

Catalysts for Change: Workers Forging Democracy with Innovation. June 10, 2013—As part of a new, ongoing series, the Solidarity Center takes a close look at five examples where working people, their unions and civil society activists are advancing worker rights and greater equity in their societies, often under trying circumstances.

30 Million Jobs Needed Globally to Return to Pre-Recession Norm. June 3, 2013—Emerging nations—where, on average, employment is rising, income inequality decreasing and the middle class rapidly expanding—are recovering from the global recession faster than developed countries, according to an International Labor Organization (ILO) report released today.

Report: 73.4 Million Young Workers Jobless in 2013. May 8, 2013—A stunning 73.4 million young workers are estimated to be jobless in 2013, an increase of 3.5 million between 2007 and 2013, according to an International Labor Organization (ILO) report out today. 

ILO Report: 197 Million People Jobless in 2012, More Job Loss in 2013. January 22, 2013—Some 197 million people were jobless worldwide in 2012, and an additional 39 million workers have dropped out of the labor market, unable to find employment, according to a new report by the International Labor Organization (ILO).

World Bank Report: Worker Rights Key to Addressing Global Jobs Crisis. January 2, 2013—The World Bank’s recently released “2013 World Development Report on Jobs” offers policymakers a new framework for looking at jobs and outlines why jobs that most benefit development can spur a virtuous cycle.

Human Rights Day 2012: Marking Worker Rights Worldwide. December 10, 2012—Nearly 3,000 trade union leaders have been murdered in Colombia over the past 20 years and the killing continues, with at least 15 unionists murdered so far this year.

Global Union Federations Unite for Worker Power. June 25, 2012—In a historic step for global labor solidarity, three global union federations came together this week to form IndustriALL Global Union, uniting 50 million workers across the supply chain.

Clinton Addresses Worker Rights, Calls for Justice in Aminul Islam Murder at Dhaka Town Meeting. May 10, 2012—During a  meeting this week with young Bangladeshi leaders at the International School in Dhaka, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton drew applause in fielding a question about repression of worker rights and the murder of union activist Aminul Islam.

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