· Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,
· Whereas disregard and contempt for the rights of the working class have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want of employment has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people,
· Whereas it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that the rights of the working class should be protected by the rule of law,
· Whereas the peoples of the world have reaffirmed their faith in fundamental worker’s rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women and have determined to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom,
· Now, Therefore the Communist International proclaims this CONVENTION OF THE RIGHTS OF THE WORKING CLASS as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, to the end that every individual and every organ of society, keeping this Convention constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance, both among the peoples of Member States themselves and among the peoples of territories under their jurisdiction.
· The Communist International also rejects completely capitalism and everything it stands for. We reject the idea of private property, greed and ‘free’ markets. We call on the workers of the world to rise up, throw off their chains and seize the means of production from the capitalist class, and use these means for the betterment of all men and women, not just the few.
The Convention on the Rights of the Working Class
The States Parties to the this Convention,
Article 23 of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights
1. Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.
2. Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work.
3. 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.
4. Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.
Article 2 of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work (1998)
1. freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining;
2. The elimination of all forms of forced or compulsory labour;
3. The effective abolition of child labour; and
4. The elimination of discrimination in respect of employment and occupation.
Article 11(1 &2) of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women
1. States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in the field of employment in order to ensure, on a basis of equality of men and women, the same rights, in particular:
A. The right to work as an inalienable right of all human beings;
B. The right to the same employment opportunities, including the application of the same criteria for selection in matters of employment;
C. The right to free choice of profession and employment, the right to promotion, job security and all benefits and conditions of service and the right to receive vocational training and retraining, including apprenticeships, advanced vocational training and recurrent training;
D. The right to equal remuneration, including benefits, and to equal treatment in respect of work of equal value, as well as equality of treatment in the evaluation of the quality of work;
E. The right to social security, particularly in cases of retirement, unemployment, sickness, invalidity and old age and other incapacity to work, as well as the right to paid leave;
F. The right to protection of health and to safety in working conditions, including the safeguarding of the function of reproduction.
2. In order to prevent discrimination against women on the grounds of marriage or maternity and to ensure their effective right to work, States Parties shall take appropriate measures:
A. To prohibit, subject to the imposition of sanctions, dismissal on the grounds of pregnancy or of maternity leave and discrimination in dismissals on the basis of marital status;
B. To introduce maternity leave with pay or with comparable social benefits without loss of former employment, seniority or social allowances;
C. To encourage the provision of the necessary supporting social services to enable parents to combine family obligations with work responsibilities and participation in public life, in particular through promoting the establishment and development of a network of child-care facilities;
D. To provide special protection to women during pregnancy in types of work proved to be harmful to them.
Article 7 and 8 of the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families
States Parties undertake, in accordance with the international instruments concerning human rights, to respect and to ensure to all migrant workers and members of their families within their territory or subject to their jurisdiction the rights provided for in the present Convention without distinction of any kind such as to sex, race, colour, language, religion or conviction, political or other opinion, national, ethnic or social origin, nationality, age, economic position, property, marital status, birth or other status.
1. Migrant workers and members of their families shall be free to leave any State, including their State of origin. This right shall not be subject to any restrictions except those that are provided by law, are necessary to protect national security, public order, public health or morals or the rights and freedoms of others and are consistent with the other rights recognized in the present part of the Convention.
2. Migrant workers and members of their families shall have the right at any time to enter and remain in their State of origin.
Convinced, therefore, of the need to bring about the international protection of the rights of all of the workers of the world and members of their families, reaffirming and establishing basic norms in a comprehensive convention which could be applied to a socialist world, for it is only a socialist world based on equality of all human beings that the potential of humanity can be achieved,
This convention sets forth the following provisions;
Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Convention, without distinction of any kind, such as class, race, ethnicity, colour, sex, gender, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other discriminatory factor or status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs.
1. The right to full education is a fundamental right for the betterment of the individual, their society and the world. Therefore, every person enjoys the right to full and free state funded education, from primary all the way to Ph.D. level if that person so chooses. Every person shall be free to return to education at any time in their life to re-educate and re-skill for new employment opportunities.
2. Every person will receive full state support and funding for each and every period of education in that person’s life.
1. Every person enjoys the right to work and the right to employment as an inalienable right of all human beings and shall be free from any form of unemployment with the exception of times of illness, re-education, re-training or maternity leave.
2. Every person enjoys the right to be free from all forms of forced or compulsory labour. Each person shall be employed in an occupation that is in accordance with their skills and aspirations, except where certain employment endangers the rights of others.
3. Every worker shall enjoy the right to freedom of movement for themselves and their families, and be subject to no restrictions on that movement. Every person shall enjoy the full economic, social and cultural rights that they would enjoy in their home state.
Every person is to enjoy the right to a maximum working week of thirty hours. No person shall be compelled or forced to work more hours than this limit, except for personal choice or in times or national emergencies and for the good of all society.
1. Every person shall have a right to decent pay for the employment that they engage in. This pay shall be reviewed annually to ensure that a decent standard of living, in line with the norms of a particular society is ensured for every person.
2. Every person shall enjoy safe and secure working conditions, and shall be free from any form of danger or injury whilst in their place of employment.
1. Every person as a birth right shall enjoy the right to fully state funded childcare as a child. This provision shall allow every parent the right to enter the workforce or education should they wish to do so.
2. If a person wishes to not enter the workforce and instead raise their child or children, that person will be entitled to maternity leave from employment until a child reaches primary school going age.
Every person shall enjoy fully state funded essential healthcare from birth until death.
1. Every person shall enjoy the fruits of their labour and shall never be alienated from and unable to afford the goods that they produce.
2. Every person shall enjoy the right to leisure time and a minimum of four weeks holidays per year.
1. Every person shall enjoy the right to retire from employment and enjoy a full yearly state pension that is equal to their yearly employment salary at the age of sixty.
2. A person shall enjoy the right to continue to work after sixty years of age as long as they are fit and able and the employment is of their choosing.
No person has the right to privately accumulate wealth that has been produced by the labour of other workers of the world. Any person found to be privately profiting from the toil of others shall be liable for prosecution in line with the laws of that person’s society and the laws of the International Criminal Court.
Justification for the Convention on the Rights of the Working Class
The Convention on the rights of the Working Class (CRWC) in a revolutionary document and ground-breaking in the field of human rights. The convention takes into account the previous treaties, declarations and conventions on the rights of workers and the human rights of all peoples and seeks to extend and build upon them. The convention is an aspirational document that seeks to address the centuries old problems of inequality, poverty and discrimination involving all peoples of the world. Each of the problems mentioned are all problems that stem from the economic system that permeates in our world today. That economic system is capitalism. It is a system that has enriched a minority of the world’s population at the expense of the majority. It is a system that has produced war, poverty, inequality, environmental degradation and endless suffering for billions of human beings. In order for true human rights, and in turn worker’s rights, minority rights, children’s rights and the rights of all to be achieved, the economic system of capitalism must be eradicated. This convention, with the provision of fundamental rights to education, employment, leisure time and healthcare sets forth the means for the realisation of a world in which true equality for all can be achieved.
In order for this convention to become a reality, successive socialist revolutions by the workers of the world are necessary. The convention is one of aspiration, like all previous human rights instruments. The working class, the majority of people in the world, have long suffered through being forced to sell their labour in order to survive. The nature of the capitalist system has forced them into this exploitative relationship. However just because reality suggests that a socialist world is not likely in the short term, that should not restrict our aspirations for a world in which there is equality of all human beings, based on an economic system that values all and not the few. This convention sets out the basis on how such a world can be achieved.
The current system of United Nations, enshrined in the charter, various conventions, declarations and protocols sets out a number of aspirational worker’s rights, human rights and rights for various minority and discriminated groups. All however fail to address the underlying reasons for the problems they seek to solve. The Convention on the Rights of the Working Class seeks to address the underlying cause of those problems. In designing this convention various rights instruments were consulted. Four of these instruments provided the building blocks for the Convention on the Rights of the Working class (CRWC). These were the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) was and is a visionary document. In looking for a template for a rights document there is no better starting point. The preamble for the UNDHR, with some minor alterations provided the basis for the preamble to the Convention on the Rights of the Working Class. In particular, Article 23 sets forth some comprehensive rights in relation to employment. The article however falls just short of the necessary right of employment. The reason for this is that the drafters of the UNDHR document knew that the right to employment could not and never can, be guaranteed under the capitalist system. Therefore the UNDHR had to limit its rights in full knowledge that the ‘right to work’ and to ‘free choice of employment’ could never realistically be achieved. The CRWC builds upon the provisions of Article 23 by providing the right to employment for all. This is set out in Article 3.1 of the CRWC which provides all with the ‘right to work and the right to employment as an inalienable right of all human beings’. Of course, the Convention accepts that this can only be achieved under a socialist system and not under capitalism.
The ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work (1998) also builds upon the rights set out in the UNDHR. In particular, Article 2.2 which sets out ‘the elimination of all forms of forced or compulsory labour’ provided the inspiration for Article 3.2 of the CRWC ‘every person enjoys the right to be free from all forms of forced or compulsory labour’. So, while every person has the right to employment, that employment must be of the choosing of the person once they have been provided with the education and training to engage in that employment. This is set out in Article 2.1 and 2.2 of the CRWC.
The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (1979) was also consulted to ensure that traditional forms of discrimination against women that are systemic to capitalism would not be repeated in the CRWC. In particular, Article 11.2 (A, B & C) which provide for maternity leave with pay, social benefits and childcare provided the inspiration for Article 6.1 and 6.2 of the CRWC. These provisions set out a revolutionary system whereby if a person wants to enter the workforce, they will be provided with state funded childcare for their children who are under primary school age. It also provides the option for people to choose to provide that childcare to their children themselves and be funded by the state to do it.
The final convention that was consulted was ‘the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families’ (1990). In particular, Articles 7 and 8 set out the rights of non-discrimination and freedom of movement. This provided the basis for Article 1 and Article 3.3 of the CRWC which provide for non-discrimination of workers and the right to freedom of movement without the loss of national rights.
Each of these four instruments set out lofty ideals and rights that are admirable. However, the rights that they set out can never be fully achieved under the capitalist system. This is what must be recognised so that we can move on to a system whereby true equality and human rights can be realised. The CRWC sets out the basis for that system.
One author that takes a similar approach in relation to the right to healthcare in an age of neoliberal globalisation, but does not go as far as calling for an overthrow of capitalism and the right to employment for all is Paul O’Connell. In his excellent work he highlights that although the right to health is recognised in international human rights law, the nature of capitalism, neo-liberalism and ‘market solutions’ deem this right as unworkable. O’Connell’s mode of analysis takes a similar approach to the one that I have set out, but does not go as far. His analysis recognises the limitations of the human right to healthcare within a system of capitalism that refuses to provide a basis for those rights to be realised. As he notes, human rights and the idea of collective welfare over individual or private interests as “values are complete anathema to the logic of neo-liberalism, consequently a commitment to the former raises serious questions about the extent to which it can be pursued in the context of market hegemony”. This line of argument can be just as easily applied to the logic of worker’s rights. Unfortunately O’Connell seems to be one of the lone figures in the field of human rights academia who challenges the existing social order and points out how capitalism and certain human rights are incompatible with each other.
In conclusion, the CRWC is a visionary document that does not accept the limitations that are imposed upon the idea of human rights by the economic system of capitalism. For many centuries the working class have suffered at the hands of capitalism through being forced to sell their labour to support themselves and their families, whilst the capitalist class become wealthier from the fruits of the working class’ labour. In a system that is based on exploitation of a certain group, the working class, it will always be impossible to achieve a true realisation of equality and full human rights. It is inadequate to argue for the realisation of human rights without questioning the economic system that creates the abuses of those rights in the first place. While the rights of workers have to some degree been set out and protected in theory, in practice those rights could never fully be realised. What the CRWC sets out is a rights instrument that would require the eradication of an inequitable economic system, but would then provide for the most fundamental of human rights. The right to a fully free education, the right to a job as a means of supporting oneself and one’s family, the right to free healthcare, the right to leisure time, the right to non-discrimination, the right to early retirement and the right to true equality between all peoples in a socialist world. All of the rights contained within the CWRC are aspirational, but are achievable when the break with the capitalist market system is complete.
Nations, United. “International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families.” 1990. http://www2.ohchr.org/english/law/cmw.htm (accessed March 27, 2012).
—. “The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.” 1979. http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/cedaw/text/econvention.htm#article11 (accessed March 26, 2012).
—. “The Universal Declaration of Human Rights.” United Nations Web site. 1948. http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/index.shtml#a23 (accessed March 25, 2012).
O'Connell, P. “The Human Right to Health in an Age of Market Hegemony.” 2010. http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1568383 (accessed March 25, 2012).
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 Article 23, The United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948
 Article 23.1, The United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948
 Article 2.2, ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, 1998
 Article 11.2, The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, 1979
 Articles 7 & 8, International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, 1990
 O’Connell, P. ‘THE HUMAN RIGHT TO HEALTH IN AN AGE OF MARKET HEGEMONY’, 2010
 O’Connell, P ‘THE HUMAN RIGHT TO HEALTH IN AN AGE OF MARKET, P.19, 2010