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CWU and the Human Rights Act

2 March 2010

The Human Rights Act, introduced in 1998, protects everyone's human rights: young and old, rich and poor, yours and mine.

The Human Rights Act - What's Not To Love? poster

It is clearly very relevant and crucially important to trade unionists and trade unions. Civil rights and employment rights go hand in hand.

The Act does not protect us against an endless catalogue of rights. It only protects fundamental rights and freedoms. In fact the rights contained in the Human Rights Act are so fundamental that no modern democracy has scrapped either the Human Rights Act or the equivalent legislation. For Britain to scrap the Human Rights Act would be the same as the USA scrapping its Bill of Rights.

However, it seems that the Human Rights Act will inevitably become an issue in the forthcoming General Election. This is because David Cameron has made clear his preference to abolish the Act and replace it with a "British Bill of Rights". It is entirely unclear what the difference would be and if the Conservatives are saying that there would be no change in practice, why scrap the Human Rights Act to start with?

Because of its importance to trade union activity and because of the very real threat to its continuation, the CWU's NEC has endorsed a campaign from Liberty, the leading Human Rights campaigning group in the UK, called Common Values.

There is a dedicated interactive website that explains how the Human Rights Act works in practice and addressing the misconceptions about it.