Human rights need union support
by Hazel Gavigan

A webinar on trade unions’ role in promoting and protecting human rights and equality took place in late October.


The event was jointly hosted by the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC) and the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU). Fórsa general secretary and ICTU vice-president, Kevin Callinan opened the session by welcoming the opportunity for trade unions to reconnect with their own fundamental values.


"We, as trade unionists, are committed to human rights, equality and diversity. It is widely recognised that the workplace is a strategic entry point to free society from discrimination," he said.


Promoting and protecting human rights and equality: The potential of the public sector equality and human rights duty for trade unions,’ aimed to advance the rights of public sector workers and service users, while enhancing the quality of public policy and services.


The keynote address was delivered by UNISON general secretary, Dave Prentis.


Leader of the UK’s largest public service union began by acknowledging how important the public sector equality duty has been during the Covid-19 pandemic. “The right for every person to be treated with decency, dignity and equality is vital in a time of crisis,” he said.


Referencing a recent speech by President Michael D Higgins to an OECD conference, Dave highlighted his point that the State has the ability to play a leading, transformative role is providing quality and universal public services to its citizens.


President Higgins said governments could act decisively when the will is there. Mr Prentis said trade unionists should generate this will, which would ultimately create a better, fairer society.


“We have human rights and equality legislation to facilitate the creation of political will, which will ultimately enact transformative change for all,” he said.


Download the public sector human rights and equality duty here. 


It’s never been more important – or more easy – to get the protections and benefits of union membership. Join Fórsa HERE or contact the union HERE.

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