Workers’ rights

If someone asked you to list some rights, you might say; women’s liberation, LGBTQIA+ rights; voting rights and other civil liberties.

IMAGE: Jenny Scott (CC BY-NC 2.0)

A workplace right is something that has been fought for and won since the days before minimum wage, superannuation and child labour laws existed. Sure, we have come a long way and it’s hard to imagine the relevance, but think about it this way:

A right is like a muscle, if you don’t exercise it, you lose power.

All around the world, workers are being exploited in different ways. Whether it’s in sweatshops, by the “gig economy”, by multinationals, in family businesses. It can happen to anyone. It’s probably happened to everyone at home time or another.

There are around 3 billion workers in the world. Aside from being human, there is not much that connects us more than being workers.

When you think of the most impactful civil rights movements, you think of many people. But they all started with one or two people asserting their rights.

IMAGE: J. Maschhoff

1965: Rosa Parks seated in the front of a public bus representing the end of segregated buses and her role in the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Sparked by the arrest of Rosa Parks on December 1, 1955, the 13-month mass protest ended with the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that segregation on public buses is unconstitutional.

In your workplace, a right is a protection, obligation, or process that you were entitled to and that can be enforced against your employer.

When one person stands up to exploitation, they strengthen the rights for everyone. When you exercise your right to finish work on time in your workplace, you strengthen the right for your colleagues. When your colleagues do the same, leaving on time becomes a right as strong and sound as your weekend or your annual leave.

So next time your rights are being ignored, stand tall and do what will benefit you, and every other worker in the world!

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