Nobel laureates urge recognition of workers' rights


  • World
  • Tuesday, 06 Dec 2005

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Eleven Nobel Peace Prize Laureates, including former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, have joined with a labor group in urging full recognition of worker's rights in the lead-up to International Human Rights Day on Saturday. 

Dec. 10 marks the anniversary of the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which urges basic rights for workers including the right to organize. 

"We call upon every nation on this International Human Rights Day to abide by the Universal Declaration and at long last, truly protect and defend workers' rights, including the right to form unions and bargain collectively," said a statement signed by the Nobel laureates. 

The statement, issued in conjunction with the labor federation AFL-CIO, will appear in full-page advertisements in the Washington Post and New York Times on Tuesday, the organization said on Monday. 

AFL-CIO spokesman Steve Smith said the advertisements are among a number of events, including marches, rallies and candlelight vigils, the labor movement plans to mark the anniversary of the 1948 UN human rights declaration across the United States this week. 

The statement said protecting the right to form unions is vital to promoting economic prosperity and democracy, but noted that in many countries such activity was poorly protected and in some cases explicitly banned or brutally suppressed. 

"Far too many workers who struggle to form unions for the purpose of bargaining collectively with their employers over the terms and conditions of their employment face threats, harassment, deportation, job loss, prison, beatings, torture or even assassination," the statement said. 

In addition to Carter, the statement was signed by Lech Walesa, the former Polish president who lead Solidarity, Poland's first independent trade union. 

Other signatories were the Dalai Lama (Tibet), Dr. Shirin Ebadi (Iran), John Hume (Northern Ireland), the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, Mairead Corrigan Maguire (Northern Ireland), Dr. Jose Ramos-Horta (East Timor), Archbishop Desmond Tutu (South Africa), Betty Williams (Ireland) and Professor Jody Williams (United States). 

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