Trade unions are human rights organisations and they depend upon the most basic rights – the right to freedom of association and freedom of speech. Trade union rights are human rights and in many countries throughout the Americas, the right to form unions has been hard fought.
Yet in the 21st century we are still fighting this battle for the right to form unions, the right to collective bargaining and especially in the last three years, at the International Labour Conference, the right to strike.
PSI will continue to work with its affiliates to fight violations of internationally accepted trade union rights. Together, we will continue to expose to the public, to the ILO, in the media and on the global stage, those governments and anti-democracy organisations throughout the region that act with impunity and deny workers their basic rights.
The struggle for trade union rights is a matter of life and death in the Americas. Guatemala is the most dangerous place to be a trade unionist. And next on the list is Colombia. Other countries in South and Central America (for example, Ecuador, Peru, Honduras, Paraguay) also have tarnished reputations regarding trade union rights. And in recent years, some state governments in the USA, and provincial and federal governments in Canada have violated and rolled-back on workers’ rights, retreating even more with union and labor rights.
There are examples in Guyana and Haïti where governments and legislatures have taken away or reduced hard-fought collective bargaining rights or some deny them outright, especially in the public service. Some governments and employers in the Caribbean are using the financial crisis and the high national debts as reasons for not engaging in the collective bargaining process.
PSI Americas will work with affiliates in the region to:
- improve and expedite our responses in the most urgent cases of rights abuses;
- further develop capacity to use the ILO’s supervisory and reporting mechanism to file complaints.
It is through our collective strength, in the (sub)region and globally that we are able to win victories. Well-coordinated solidarity actions on the sub-regional, regional or global stage have had positive results.
We will continue to build solidarity not only within sectors but between sectors. And it is even more important now for us to build that solidarity across wider civil society groups. And in particular, PSI Americas will work with affiliates in the region to:
- use the reach of Labourstart and similar organisations and platforms to launch campaigns in defence of trade union rights in the Americas;
- develop strong, powerful national and regional campaigns in support of trade union rights;
- increase the visibility of regional vice presidents in trade union rights campaigns;
- continue to provide attention to the causes behind the migration of workers, particularly in the health sector.