On May Day, workers around the world will celebrate their victories and reflect on the challenges that we collectively face. For the Building and Wood Workers’ International, May Day 2017 will revolve around the theme of ‘Amandla’, the Zulu word for ‘power to the people’. This is also the theme for the 4th BWI World Congress that will be held in Durban, South Africa from November 29 to December 2, 2017
Every day, BWI’s affiliates around the world literally give power to the people. From the struggles to fight against trade union repression in South Korea, Zimbabwe, and Colombia; to tackling global companies that put profits ahead of workers in Brazil, Spain, and Jordan; to the gains made in ensuring safety and health for workers in relation to mega-sporting events in Qatar and Russia, May Day is our chance to celebrate our collective achievements in creating decent work.
It is the very of achievements of the labour movement that have made trade unions the target of brutal attacks around the globe. Labour law reforms in Hungary and Argentina and legislative assaults on trade union activists the United Kingdom and Australia are intended to undermine the ability of unions to defend and fight for the interests of workers, their families, and communities. Defending trade union rights sits at the core of defending workers’ rights and addressing poverty.
Today, neoliberal labour reforms, free trade agreements, rampant privatisation and the abuse of tax havens have created unparalleled perverse global inequality. This inequality is degenerating into increasing political polarization throughout the world including in France, United States, and the Philippines. Rising nationalism, populist rhetoric, and xenophobic attacks on migrants mean that the global trade union movement needs to be more unified than ever to ensure that trade union rallying cry of “solidarity forever” is put into action.
Responding to these threats, as well as the interconnected global issues of climate change and resource shortages, will be the major challenges of the coming decades for BWI as well as the entire global trade union movement. The BWI will continue to work with its affiliates to build a stronger, dynamic, more inclusive global trade union movement for future generations to come.
Together, the collective action of BWI unions around the world are giving power to the people! Amandla!