NUPGE hosts international labour rights symposium

More than 150 Canadian and international guests will meet Nov. 19-21 in Ottawa to discuss how labour rights are a critical component of human rights, helping to protect and promote democracy as well as the social and economic wellbeing of citizens.

The international symposium, entitled Labour Rights are Human Rights, is being organized by four of Canadas largest labour organizations: the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE), the Canadian Teachers Federation (CTF), the Canadian Police Association (CPA) and the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW Canada).

The symposium will tackle six critical issues:

● Private and Public Sector Unions: Why are we in this together?
● The Role of Unions in Promoting Democracy and Economic Prosperity
● The Attack on Workers Rights: Part of an international phenomenon
● 2007 Supreme Court Decision Guaranteeing the Right to Collective Bargaining:
   What does it mean for the future of labour rights in Canada?
● Canada and the International Labour Organization (ILO)
● State of the Nation: Labour Rights are Human Rights in Canada 2008

Several notable Canadian and international experts will make presentations including:

● Elaine Bernard, Executive Director of Labour and Worklife Program (LWP)
   Harvard University Law School
● Fred van Leeuwen, General Secretary, Education International
● Mary Beth Maxwell, executive director, American Rights at Work
● Judy Fudge, professor, University of Victoria Law School
● Paul Cavalluzzo, Senior Partner Cavalluzzo, Hayes, Shilton, McIntyre & Cornish
● Patrick Carrier, former official, Freedom of Association Branch,
   International Labour Organization

There will also be a special presentation to Ed Broadbent in recognition of his strong advocacy throughout his career of labour rights in Canada and around the world.

Broadbent led the federal New Democratic Party from 1975 to 1989. He also served as director of the International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development from 1990 to 1996.

NUPGE has long been one of the most prominent unions in Canada fighting to preserve labour rights as human rights. In 2005, the union launched a special campaign to draw attention to serious erosion over the past three decades in Canada of the two fundamental labour rights î º the right to bargain collectively and the right to strike.

The union has published a book, Collective Bargaining in Canada: Human Right or Canadian Illusion, documenting how the basic human right to freedom of association has been abused and eroded by Canadian governments at all levels for more than a quarter of a century. Rather than protect labour rights, governments have routinely passed laws providing the legal means to abuse or ignore these vital rights.