ILPS Commission 5
Official Statement for International Labor Day 2020
This Labor Day is unlike any in recent history. At this time of the COVID-19 pandemic, the working peoples’ primary concerns are health, food, income and job security. Every country is facing a health and economic crisis because every country apart from Cuba has been cutting health budgets, cutting corporate taxes, privatizing vital public assets like hospitals, and cutting workers’ rights. There is a very urgent need to put people before profit, to put workers in control. There will be a huge struggle world-wide to do this.
We salute the workers of the world—the frontliners, unionists, and advocates—who are at the forefront of efforts to respond to COVID-19. We pay tribute to all martyrs of the working class who have dedicated their lives in the service of the people.
Workers demand a total overhaul of global and country-level responses to the pandemic, urging states to prioritize public health and basic needs and services over corporate profit and bailouts.
The onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic has led to economic and health crises on a massive scale, and workers have felt the brunt of this fallout. Many of the mechanisms instituted to prevent the spread of the virus are inadequate and even counterproductive.
The Trump administration, for instance, has channeled billions of dollars into corporate bailouts for giant companies that have laid off workers, evaded taxes, and lobbied against pro-labor laws. Citizens of many countries are endangered by corrupt and incompetent government officials, such as the Bolsonaro regime in Brazil, where efforts to contain COVID-19 are marked by denial, inaction, and delay. Several governments are rushing to reopen businesses in order to “save the economy,” regardless of advice from experts that opening businesses too soon may lead to a second wave of infections. Others, such as the Duterte regime in the Philippines, have used COVID-19 as a pretext for increased militarization and centralization of power in the hands of the national government.
Overall, most states have outright failed to address the plight of the majority and most vulnerable sectors in their countries, who do not have access to basic needs such as food and health services during community quarantines.
There are over 3 million confirmed cases and over 200,000 deaths due to COVID-19. Many are from working class families who had no immediate access to testing and treatment. Whether in the health sector or in other essential industries such as food, delivery, and basic utilities, employees struggle to meet the demands of their jobs despite insufficient personal protection and increased workloads.
While strict quarantine rules have been applied in most countries, many large companies especially those involved in exported goods and services still continue operations. Many workers from sectors outside medical, food and vital industries have been forced to work and denied protective equipment and access to medical treatment.
Many workers were also abandoned by their employers, including migrant workers, construction workers, and seafarers. They were left on the work site without adequate means for food and basic needs and access to treatment for those who got infected with COVID-19.
Tens of millions of workers are suffering from layoffs without access to social protection. Short-term contractuals, informal workers, and agricultural workers have been left without income, food, and other basic needs while living in quarantine conditions. This grave health and economic crisis demands radical measures.
We demand that governments strengthen national and community-level health care systems by providing mass testing, building necessary medical facilities, and ensuring access to health care for all.
We demand that countries re-channel public funds towards public health and creating jobs for the real economy, instead of bailing out corporations. We call for unconditional aid and the cancellation of government debt to foreign financial institutions in the middle of this unprecedented global crisis. We oppose laying-out new onerous loans that will put countries deeper into debt to the IMF and World Bank and other global banks. We call on governments to provide relief in the short-term, and in the long-term to junk neoliberal economic policies and rebuild economies to become more self-sufficient and sustainable, boosted by domestic production and mutually beneficial trade.
The crisis is teaching us that systemic changes must be put in place to create jobs after an anticipated global recession which threatens to put millions of workers out of jobs, and to subject more working people to poverty.While calling for immediate relief, we must educate people on the need to transform the global economic system. This is the time to show that socialism is still the most viable long-term economic system.
Let us show that despite the pandemic, we will continue to fight. Workers of the world unite! Let us build a socialist future!
Call for ActionOn this historic Labor Day, workers worldwide stand in solidarity to assert our right to public health, food, and secure jobs. We call for the following urgent demands:
*Guaranteed incomes and livelihood even under quarantine
*Mass testing and treatment for all
*No bailouts for big corporations, aid for working people
*Social protection for farmers, workers, migrants and toiling masses
*Respect for democratic and human rights
Stand in solidarity with workers around the world this May Day! While traditional mass gatherings may not be possible due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we can conduct different forms of protest actions and have a shared platform where we can show the strength of our collective action.
This May 1, we call on everyone to show their solidarity with the workers and people of all countries by posting any form of action, even home-based, on social media platforms. Put on a do-it-yourself red mask or a red arm band, and hold up a sign, write a post, or tag the post with demands, and use the hashtag: #PublicHealthNotProfit
Authorised by WORKINS (Workers international Struggle Initiatives) and ILPS Workers Commission (International League of Peoples Struggles) Commission 5, May 1, 2020. http://workins.wordpress.com http://ilps.info