December 5, 2005

Nobel laureates urge recognition of workers’ rights

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.

December 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).