May Day 2023: United we stand, divided we fall

On May Day, we celebrate, we show the world, with our presence, marching, chanting, taking to the streets, that we are many and that work and workers, are at the heart of our communities and the future. 

This day marks the contributions of workers as well as their struggle for human rights and social justice. It celebrates the combined power of workers to win respect, recognition of their work, and dignity.

The lesson of our past is that with unity, there is strength. With disunity, there is weakness. 

Corporations understand that isolated workers will not be able to limit or influence arbitrary decisions, much less shift the balance of power in the workplace. Rulers, private or public, often encourage atomisation of the workforce, not only by discouraging organising, but also by structuring work so as to block natural communities of workers from forming. Tyrants and authoritarians often fear freedom of association and regularly use repression to break workers’ unity and to destroy democracy. 

Divided workers are easy prey for economic, political, and financial interests that see workers as costs and commodities, like other factors of production and services, not as human beings. 

Often these business, employment and political structures are international. Whenever global capitalism is in crisis, it hits and hurts workers throughout the world. They feel left alone in paying the price of the systemic crises of the neo-liberal economic model, while those who perpetrated the crises accumulate more power and wealth. Privileging profit over people has meant more loneliness, weakness, and fear of uncertain futures for those who had too little. 

However, the integration of the world is not limited to corporate globalisation. We, trade unions, coming together internationally, can forge alliances to build global leverage to open the space for workers to organise and bargain and bring about the change they want to see in their lives.

Leverage requires solidarity. Locally and in the global struggles, solidarity is the glue that holds workers and the global trade union movement together. Joining forces with others means that those on the front lines of the fight against tyranny, oppression, and any form of abuse of power, are never alone. It is also fundamental for the realisation and emancipation of all working people: irrespective of gender, religious belief, class, or origin. 

Making those values come alive and realising democratic rights requires workers’ unity and collective action. 

If social justice is to progress and be globalised. If democracy is to thrive and give hope to the oppressed. If the planet is to become a safe, sustainable place to live and work, there is no more powerful transformative force that organised workers. We, together, can shift the balance of power through our unity. Morally, politically, and economically, nothing is more important.

Today is the workers’ day. We are visible, indispensable, and carrying one simple message. Workers - their needs, rights, and aspirations - should be at the centre of the global agenda. Not markets, not banks, not crooks protected by powerful friends, not dictators and would-be dictators armed with massive means of deception, but labour. 

Our voices must be loud and clear and heard in all parts of the world, today and every day.

Happy May Day - International Workers’ Day!