Today we march for those who can’t – BWI May Day Statement

17 May 2016 10:50


Today millions of workers around the world will be out on the streets to stand up for workers’ rights. This is the day to celebrate the many victories that we have achieved by being united but unfortunately there are many who cannot take part in the marches today. In many countries, workers who organize and mobilize for labour rights, justice, and democracy risk serious repression. 

All over the world workers face extreme challenges from government repression to police violence, and even murder in some countries and to being fired and bullied by their employers for standing up for their rights at the workplace. On May Day this year the BWI express solidarity with all those who continue to fight despite increasing repression and not having opportunities to have a voice in the work site and in the community.

In Qatar, thousands of migrant workers are not allowed to join trade unions and when they organize they risk losing their jobs and face deportation. In South Korea trade unionists have been imprisoned for fighting a new regressive labour law. In the United Kingdom, Cambodia and Finland trade union rights including the right to strike has been under attack by governments and employers. 

The right to organize, to bargain collectively, to strike and to assemble peacefully are fundamental rights according to the ILO and UN conventions but these rights cannot be taken for granted. Workers in the past fought hard for these rights and we must continue to defend them every day. 

At the same time global inequalities are growing as well as the anger over big corporations increasing their power at the expense of working people. The world needs a strong global trade union movement more than ever. However, governments are intensifying their attack against trade unions by introducing a series of labour laws that undermine trade unions. 

We must show solidarity also with those who do not have the same opportunities to fight for their rights. When opportunistic nationalist and fascist forces are taking advantage of the growing discontent in society trade unions stand up for what we believe in solidarity, justice and equality for all.  In times of increasing unemployment rates, austerity and terrorism, we must never let fear take over and let us be fooled by those who want to put people against people to serve their own purposes. If we are not united, we can never win. 

Around the world BWI affiliates are standing up against discrimination, exploitation, and fighting for justice and equality. In Spain and Italy trade unions have joined the movement for the rights of migrants and refugees who are fleeing war, poverty and repression despite the growing anti-migrant sentiment in the wake of the economic crisis and austerity. 

In South Africa trade unions have been tirelessly fighting against xenophobia and standing up for diversity amongst workers. Trade unions from the Middle East and North Africa are standing up for refugee rights by opposing the shameful deal between European Union and Turkey to send back asylum seekers entering the borders of the European Union. 

In Latin America and the Caribbean and Asia, the BWI affiliates are at the forefront in organizing migrant workers to not only defend their rights but contribute to building a dynamic and inclusive trade union movement. In Qatar despite the challenges and difficulties they face workers are indeed organizing to make sure that they are treated with respect and dignity. 

Unions are showing that true solidarity is what builds worker power and trade union power nationally and globally. Only united we can win and we have everything to gain from fighting for those who need our solidarity the most. 

Today we must strengthen our commitment to fight for labour rights, human rights and social justice for all workers. We encourage everyone to speak up against racism, xenophobia, exploitation and trade union repression, and march for all those who cannot attend a May Day march today.