Labour rights vs. slavery on World Day of Social Justice

It is hard to believe that slavery still exists.

Today is World Day of Social Justice, declared by the United Nations, and this year there is a particular focus on human exploitation and forced labour.

Forced labour is illegal by international standards---UN member countries have agreed on this. There is a law, a Forced Labour Convention that dates back to 1930 but has since been updated to reinvigorate the global fight against forced labour, including human trafficking, the buying and selling of human beings against their will.

It appears that where exploitation is possible and tolerated, some people will take advantage of the relative powerlessness of others for their own gain. Needless to say, it’s crass, it’s cruel, and it’s disrespectful.

While the fight for workers’ rights in Canada continues with employers continually trying to drive down wages and benefits, plus certain politicians who want to weaken unions, we are incredibly fortunate for the most part from a global perspective.

Let’s take a moment to be grateful for the labour laws brought to us over decades of struggle by worker activists in Ontario and across North America. It’s because of those workers and activists and politicians that worked with them that we have come so far.

Whether on our soil or off it, let’s show solidarity with global workers whenever possible. Everyone deserves to be paid for their labour and to be treated with human dignity.

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