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UNIFOR is the largest private sector union in Canada and an advocate for the rights of working people, standing for safer employment, secure employment, wages and benefits that provide a decent standard of living, and dignity and mutual respect in the workplace.

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JHR Executive Director Rachel Pulfer sat down with UNIFOR head Jerry Dias to talk Syria, human rights and more.

Q: You’re busy with NAFTA negotiations, yet still found time to attend our annual gala and donated $10,000 to our Syria programme. What inspired you to do that?

A: The incredible work that our members do who are journalists – we have a natural affinity for organizations that pay attention to media and the work you do hits very close to home. It is also in line with our own social justice work. We wanted to send a clear message of support to the families we are supporting in Jordan and the families we brought over from Syria. You are working on these big global questions and that is where we also see a fit.

Q: How do you see our work helping the situation in Syria?

A: Think about the incredible work journalists are doing, reporting on Syria, reporting on atrocities, taking their lives in their hands. These people deserve ALL our support.

Q: How is this work in line with UNIFOR’s philosophy of giving back?

A: We are an organization with a soul, and we will continue to develop that part of our identity – we want to be asking ourselves constantly: what can we do, now, in the community, nationally and internationally to help. We have members whose families are directly implicated and deeply impacted by all of this. We cannot just sit back and stay on the sidelines – as a union we are doing everything we can for our Syrian families and our members who are journalists. Supporting Journalists for Human Rights is part of that.