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1 May, 2023

Labour Day: Global workers say People suffering more than Planet, more strikes likely

Bangkok – The global trades union movement has issued a strong May 1 Labour Day statement chastising corporations and governments for prioritising the planet over the suffering of working people. The statement warns that more strikes can be expected if the situation continues to deteriorate.

Marking its 150th anniversary this year, the International Trades Union Congress statement said that tens of millions of people are being affected by armed conflicts and the “converging crises of massive inequality, climate change, erosion of democracy, threats to public health and the prospect of unregulated technologies exacerbating division and exclusion.”

The message to global public and private sector leaders was clear: All brag about the attention they pay to the 5Ps of the UN SDGs: People, Planet, Prosperity, Peace and Partnership. But there is a huge imbalance in the prioritisation and the time- and mind-space devoted to those agenda items.

The statement said, “It is also a moment to reflect on the enormous challenges to people and the planet, challenges that can only be overcome with a vibrant trade union movement at the heart of the economy and society, and a new social contract to build a just and sustainable future for all.

“Strengthening solidarity in times of crisis is essential for creating a fairer and more humane world. The pathway to that world, and a fundamental foundation for peace, is the new social contract. There is no lack of resources, but a lack of political will to overcome oligarchy, to reform taxation and to invest in public services and a sustainable future.”

The Brussels-based ITUC represents 200 million members of 338 affiliates in 168 countries and territories. Citing the New Social Contract, issued after the 5th ITUC World Congress in Melbourne, Australia, in November 2022, as its manifesto for re-shaping the global economy, the statement called for action on:

(+) Jobs, to reach full employment by creating 575 million new jobs worldwide through investment in care, green jobs and infrastructure and formalising informal sector employment.

(+) Wage rises, with living minimum wages to reverse the decades-long decline in the share of prosperity going to working people and to ensure a dignified life for all and revitalise economies.

(+) Rights, to guarantee workers’ organising and bargaining rights, ensure safe and healthy work, safeguard against discrimination and forced and child labour and build a sustainable world through just transition.

(+) Equality, to guarantee equal pay for women and men and challenge racism and homophobia.

(+) Social Protection, to invest in coverage for the three-quarters of the world’s people who are fully or partly denied this basic human right starting with a global social protection fund.

(+) Inclusion, to remove the colonial structural framework of the world’s financial and trade systems that deny prosperity to billions of people.

The statement said, “Unions across the world are taking action to address the cost-of-living crisis. In response, rather than engage positively in social dialogue, many governments are further restricting the fundamental right to strike. We will continue to defend the right to withdraw our labour to ensure decent work and to secure justice and freedom.

“As we recall the great struggles fought and won by working women and men over so many decades, we recommit to building workers’ power through organising and exercising that power to build a world founded on equity, solidarity, democracy and mutual respect. The dreams and aspirations of trade unions in the past became reality through collective action and it is time for the current generation to turn the aspiration for a world that puts people first into a reality.”

The following are screenshots from just the first 9 pages of the ITUC Social Contract. Travel & Tourism industry leaders should download and study the rest of it carefully.