Fairness will not be gifted. Fairness will be won: Guy Ryder

International Labour Organization Director General Guy Ryder gave a rousing speech to the more than 3,000 union delegates at the CLC convention on Monday. He talked about the changing world of work, and the importance of the social justice movement for a fair future.

“We’re in a world that seems to be moving away from the ideals of social justice. But here in Canada – and with a push from organized labour – I feel optimistic about the future of social justice in this country,” said Ryder. “Canada is one of the few that’s giving a different message.”

“Fairness will not be gifted. Fairness will be won,” he added.

Ryder spoke of the importance of being politically engaged and advancing a progressive agenda, not just at home, but internationally as well.

“We have to be alert to the dangers that we face. We have to rise above the rising tide of nationalism and populism. I know many of you will be watching the elections in British Colombia closely. But spare a thought to what’s going on elsewhere in the world,” Ryder advised.

Ryder said there are more refugees crossing borders now than at any time since the Second World War. He commended Canada for its response to the global refugee crisis and said Canada stands out as an exception for having responded honourably, along with a few other countries like Germany and Sweden.

“The fact is that the rest of the world is turning its back,” he said.

Ryder described a fair future as being inclusive, offering opportunity and equity for all, and said that a fair future must also be sustainable.

“It must be green. Organized labour has rejected the false choice between decent jobs and environmental sustainability,” said Ryder.

He added that the commitments made on climate change by the government at the COP20 conference in Paris must include a plan for just transition that would protect good jobs and the communities that rely on them.

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