Right to work

Right to work

The Right to work is the concept that people have a human right to work, and may not be prevented from doing so. The right to work is enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and recognised in international human rights law through its inclusion in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, where the right to work emphasises economic, social and cultural development.

Human Right

Article 23.1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states:

"Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment."

The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights elaborates the right to work in the context of individual freedoms and economic, social and cultural development. The Covenant also elaborates the role of the State in realising this human right. Article 6 states:

"(1) The State Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right to work, which includes the right of everyone to the opportunity to gain his living by work which he freely chooses or accepts, and will take appropriate steps to safeguard this right.(2) The steps to be taken by a State party to the present Covenant to achieve the full realization of this right shall include technical and vocational guidance and training programmes, policies and techniques to achieve steady economic, social and cultural development and full and productive employment under conditions safeguarding fundamental political and economic freedoms to the individual."

The African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights also recognises the right, emphasising conditions and pay, i.e. labor rights. Article 15, states:

"Every individual shall have the right to work under equitable and satisfactory conditions, and shall receive equal pay for equal work."

Soviet Union

The 1977 Soviet Constitution also emphasises conditions of work, or labor rights, and revered to economic, social and cultural development. Article 40 stated:

"Citizens of the USSR have the right to rest and leisure.This right is ensured by the establishment of a working week not exceeding 41 hours, for workers and other employees, a shorter working day in a number of trades and industries, and shorter hours for night work; by the provision of paid annual holidays, weekly days of rest, extension of the network of cultural, educational, and health-building institutions, and the development on a mass scale of sport, physical culture, and camping and tourism; by the provision of neighborhood recreational facilities, and of other opportunities for rational use of free time. The length of collective farmers' working and leisure time is established by their collective farms." [http://www.departments.bucknell.edu/russian/const/77cons02.html#chap07 1977 Soviet Constitution]

United States

In the United States, "Right to Work" refers to whether an employer can make union membership compulsory. "Right-to-Work Laws" are laws that specify that a company cannot require union membership. Since union membership is generally believed to improve workplace conditions, Right-to-Work Laws are more common in conservative parts of the country. In states and areas without right-to-work laws, workers may have the right to form a union if they choose. [http://www.nrtw.org/rtws.htm]


Paul Lafargue, in The Right to Be Lazy, wrote: "And to think that the sons of the heroes of the Terror have allowed themselves to be degraded by the religion of work, to the point of accepting, since 1848, as a revolutionary conquest, the law limiting factory labor to twelve hours. They proclaim as a revolutionary principle the Right to Work. Shame to the French proletariat! Only slaves would have been capable of such baseness."

ee also

*Labour rights
*Right-to-work law, US legislation which prohibit trade unions from making membership or payment of dues or fees a condition of employment enforced on a state by state basis
*Protestant Work Ethic


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Look at other dictionaries:

  • right–to–work — adj: of, relating to, or being a law prohibiting labor agreements that require all employees to be union members Merriam Webster’s Dictionary of Law. Merriam Webster. 1996 …   Law dictionary

  • right-to-work — right′ to work′ adj. cvb of or pertaining to the right of workers to be employed whether or not they belong to a labor union • Etymology: 1945–50 …   From formal English to slang

  • right-to-work — ☆ right to work [rīt′tə wʉrk′ ] adj. designating or of laws or legislation prohibiting the union shop …   English World dictionary

  • right-to-work — ¦ ̷ ̷  ̷ ̷ ˈ ̷ ̷ adjective : relating to, having, or being a state law banning the closed shop and the union shop right to work laws a right to work state * * * /ruyt teuh werrk /, adj. of or pertaining to the right of workers to gain or keep… …   Useful english dictionary

  • right to work —  Rule allowing employees to work without being required to join a union. Most Southern states in the United States have “ right to work” laws …   American business jargon

  • right-to-work — /ruyt teuh werrk /, adj. of or pertaining to the right of workers to gain or keep employment whether or not they belong to a labor union. [1945 50] * * * …   Universalium

  • right to work — See right to follow a trade, business, or occupation …   Ballentine's law dictionary

  • right-to-work — adjective Date: 1949 opposing or banning the closed shop and the union shop …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • Right-to-work law — Right to work laws are statutes enforced in twenty two U.S. states, mostly in the southern or western U.S., allowed under provisions of the Taft Hartley Act, which prohibit agreements between trade unions and employers making membership or… …   Wikipedia

  • right-to-work laws — State laws permitted by section 14(b) of the TAFT HARTLEY ACT that provide in general that employees are not required to join a union as a condition of getting or retaining a job. Dictionary from West s Encyclopedia of American Law. 2005. right… …   Law dictionary