New partnership for Amnesty and the TUC
Posted: 25 February 2009
Amnesty International UK and the TUC have today (Wednesday) signed a new agreement setting out how the two organisations will work more closely together to achieve improved international labour and human rights.
Amnesty Director Kate Allen and TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber put their signatures to the memorandum of understanding at a special breakfast event at the TUC's London headquarters, Congress House. The signing also marks the start of celebrations to mark 30 years of Amnesty's trade union network.
As well as joint campaigning on behalf of workers all over the world and against widespread human rights abuses n countries such as China, Zimbabwe and Colombia, the new agreement will see the two organisations support each other's efforts to attract new supporters.
The TUC will encourage union members in the UK to join Amnesty, while Amnesty will encourage its members to join unions so their rights can be better protected at work.
UK Director of Amnesty International Kate Allen said: 'Ambitions for individual liberty and social justice are deeply rooted and passionately held by both Amnesty International activists and by union members.
'Whether through days of action for Iranian trade unionists, mass demonstrations on Burma, protest over the Gaza crisis or our daily efforts for individuals at risk and for prisoners of conscience, we have shown ourselves to be stronger when working together.
'By signing a memorandum of understanding with the TUC we are setting out ways in which Amnesty and the union movement can maximise their combined strength in the future.'
TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said: 'Whenever human rights are under threat, it is usually trade unionists who are first in the firing line from governments seeking to repress critical voices.
'The TUC's work with Amnesty to help persecuted trade unionists has helped shine the spotlight on those countries with poor human rights records. For example the two organisations joined forces recently to help imprisoned Iranian bus workers' leader Mansour Osanloo. He would have gone blind were it not for the quick action from trade unionists and Amnesty supporters in the UK who bombarded the authorities in Tehran with emails so that Mansour was let out of prison to have urgent medical treatment.
'Thankfully the persecution suffered by trade unionists elsewhere in the world is not something that UK unions have to fear, but abuses of workplace rights and ill-treatment at work are still commonplace. Amnesty's efforts to encourage their supporters to join unions as a result of this new agreement will help give more UK employees the protection of trade union membership, especially important in these difficult economic times.'