Article 23: Right to Work

  • Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.
  • Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work.
  • Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection.
  • Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests

Article 4 of the UDHR ensures humans’ freedom from slavery and states that people can not be forced to work. This article, however, states that humans have the right to work. So how does that make sense? Working can give people a sense of purpose. A sense of worth and contribution. It can challenge, inspire, and engage people. It is vital for economic growth and to prevent poverty. But these pros of working are only valid if the points in this article are respected. Working should be of a person’s own will and it should be with just and favorable conditions.  And the state has the duty to prevent and protect against unemployment. If this can’t be achieved then the state has the duty to provide the unemployed with the means to them and their family in order to live in dignity. 

Equal pay for equal work is another right granted by this article. However, it is a right that is far from being a reality. The payment gap between genders on a global scale is  32%. Meaning that women globally earn 0,68 dollars when a man earns 1 dollar for the same work. 

The countries with the smallest payment gap between genders are Iceland and Norway. But in spite of having the smallest gap, they still haven’t achieved total equal pay between genders. No country has.

On the other side of the scale with the biggest payment gap between genders is Yemen and Pakistan. Along with unequal pay, women also face discrimination in much of the world regarding which jobs women can be hired for, and in some countries, a husband has the power to decide whether the wife can work or not.

The last part of this article is the right to form and join trade unions. Trade unions are organizations formed by workers from related professions and work fields. These unions are formed to protect the workers from their respective fields. They aid their workers in issues such as negotiating wages, ensuring a safe and healthy work environment, hours of work, and benefits. The unions act as the medium between the employer and the employee, but only acts in the interest of the employee. A popular phrase ‘In Unity there is Strength’ beautifully sums up the idea behind trade unions. Without unions, it is very easy for both employers and the government to exploit their workers. As an example, a relation between the decrease in unionizing and an increase in economic inequality can be seen in the U.S.

Written by Nanna Orloff Mortensen and Natalia Colmenar

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