Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Pioneering worker rights as human rights

Yes, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights treats the basic rights of workers as human rights, but who takes that seriously? Roy J. Adams, a prominent Canadian teacher and author, does. And he did so long before even human rights organizations did.

In August Adams will pull up stakes from his home base at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, and move 1,400 miles west to the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon. There, at the College of Law, he will hold the Ariel F. Sallows chair of human rights -- a milestone in academic history, since he is apparently the first teacher of labor law to be appointed to teach human rights law.

“One more indication that labor rights are being acknowledged as human rights,” as Adams puts it.

Another sign of that trend is his book, “Labour Left Out: Canada’s failure to protect and promote collective bargaining as a human right,” published by the Canadian Center for Policy Alternatives two years ago. A past president of the Canadian Industrial Relations Association, Adams has been a visiting professor or lecturer at universities and schools in 12 countries across the globe.

For more on Adams’ career as industrial relations teacher and human rights advocate, check his home page at

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