War. Pandemic. Climate crisis. Authoritarianism. Inequality.
With so many interlocking and accelerating crises, it would be rational to greet this May Day with a heavy heart and a somber outlook. And yet, our history, our present and our future are all a source of inspiration and hope as we come together to celebrate our day!
Despite the many challenges posed by COVID over the last two years, we worked hard to remain connected. We struggled and learned to use new technologies to continue our fight for rights. We endured the frustrations of unequal internet access to build the movement around the world. We insisted on maintaining our networks and activities online even as we craved the human connection so often lost in the virtual realm. We leaned on our 102 years of history to remain strong and focused as our past comrades did despite their pandemics, world wars and innumerable crises. And while progress is always uneven and incomplete, we continued our march forward: unions organized and won recognition, collective bargaining agreements were negotiated and signed, jailed trade unionists released, steps forward taken on equal rights for all workers, trainings and debates held both for experienced and new trade unionists.
Our present is equally overflowing with struggles, but we remember that these battles afford us not only the occasion to win for workers across the world but also to prepare the next generation. Whether it’s the fight to preserve occupational health and safety laws for meatworkers in Brazil, the fight for union recognition and a contract for hotel workers at NagaWorld in Cambodia, the fight against sexual harassment and gender-based violence on the plantations of Malawi, the fight for fast food workers from McDonald’s to Starbucks in Europe and North America, or the fight for union rights and strong labor laws in Bermuda, we recommit ourselves to these fights among many others. They all carry the movement forward.
On this May Day, our thoughts inevitably turn to our sisters and brothers in Ukraine fighting and dying to defend democracy, self-determination and the rule of law. Ukraine is however not alone in these struggles: in Myanmar, Hong Kong, Philippines, Brazil, Algeria, West Africa, Belarus, and Russia, workers are fighting to defend their rights and democracy. The IUF stands with the people of Ukraine and with all those who are struggling against the forces of authoritarianism and militarization on this May Day. We recommit ourselves to support these struggles until all people, including the people of Ukraine, are once again free.
Even as these crises swirl, we learn from the struggle. New leaders are emerging through our fights, international bonds of solidarity are being strengthened through our campaigns, occupational health and safety is closer than ever to being a fundamental right at work. Together we will fight every day for people and planet before profits.
Happy May Day, sisters and brothers! Solidarity forever!