AFL marks Human Rights Day by making commitment to continue fighting intolerance

EDMONTON - In recognition of International Human Rights Day, Les Steel, Secretary Treasurer of the Alberta Federation of Labour, is encouraging Albertans to join labour's struggle against racism, sexism, bigotry and intolerance in the workplace and within communities.

"In order to create change, there needs to be a commitment on the part of Albertans to fight human rights abuses. Discrimination, exploitation and hatred are not solely the realities faced by those on the other side of the globe. Right here in our province, in our homes, our communities and workplaces, intolerance exists," says Steel.

Steel made his comments just days before the 52nd anniversary of the United Nation's Universal Declaration on Human Rights. The Declaration - one of the most important and influential documents ever adopted by the UN - sets out a comprehensive framework for the rights and freedoms that should be granted to all people. Ever since its signing, December 10th has been recognized as International Human Rights Day.

Steel says that the labour movement is and has been leading the way in the area of human rights. Just last week the Canadian Labour Congress, along with groups including Oxfam Canada and the Maquila Solidarity Network, launched the "No Sweat" campaign. This campaign aims to provide education and information about sweatshop and child labour, at the same time promoting ethical consumerism.

"We are again encouraging Albertans to shop with a conscience this Christmas. We are asking that consumers let retailers and manufacturers know they will not buy toys manufactured in sweatshops in countries like Thailand, China and India," says Steel. "We are continuing to put pressure on large multinationals like Nike to adopt codes of conduct that would guarantee improved working conditions for workers in overseas worksites."

Steel says those Albertans interested in upholding the principles of the UN's Human Rights Declaration should not be discouraged by the large numbers of human rights problems in nations far removed from their own province.

"Obviously, a single person can't stop all the human rights abuses in the world, or reverse national histories marked by intolerance. There are, however, ways that one person can enact change - shopping with a conscience, educating oneself and others about human rights issues, demanding that local governments are enacting progressive human rights legislation - all these things can make a difference," says Steel.

"If enough good people engage themselves in these struggles against human rights abuses, I am convinced that we can make this world a better place for all workers."

For more information call:

Les Steel, Secretary Treasurer   @   (780) 483-3021 (wk) / (780) 499-4135 (cell)

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