Unifor proudly marks International Workers’ Day, celebrated internationally on May 1, as workers and trade uinons continue to struggle for peace, equality, and economic and social justice.
This past year has been particularly challenging for workers as central bankers and corporate profiteers in Canada and elsewhere have waged an open war on the working-class. Shamefully, they have blamed workers for rising inflation and the high cost of living, asserting that too many people are working and that worker wages are increasing too rapidly.
Globally repressive regimes continue to target trade union leaders and labour activists , highlighting the ongoing dangers workers face in attempting to exercise their basic rights. The recent murder of Alex Dolorosa, a call centre union organizer in the Philippines, and the imprisonment of trade union leaders like Reza Shahabi, Hassan Saeedi, and Nasrin Javadi in Iran, among others, demonstrate the need for greater protection of workers’ rights.
Despite these challenges, workers are refusing to stand idle in the face of injustice.
From all corners of the earth, we see workers organizing, mobilizing and resisting the economic and political forces that seek to enrich the lives of a few at the expense of the many.
This resurgence in labour activity is evident across the globe, with Germany recently experiencing one of its largest strikes in decades as transport workers demanded fair wages. Similarly, over a million workers and trade unionists in France took to the streets to protest the government’s pension reforms and raising of the country’s retirement age. In the U.S., Michigan recently became the first state to repeal regressive “right-to-work” legislation thanks to the advocacy of trade unions. Meanwhile, Canada is witnessing one of its largest labour strikes in decades, with 155,000 public servants represented by the PSAC fighting for a fair collective agreement.
As labour union activists, we must never be complacent when it comes to safeguarding our rights.
Right-wing governments look for every opportunity to chip away at the union movement’s hard-fought victories. We saw how quickly the labour movement in Canada united and displayed unprecedented solidarity against Ontario Premier Doug Ford when his government attempted to curtail union rights to bargain by imposing a contract on CUPE education workers. This was followed by the invocation of the Constitution’s notwithstanding clause to override the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms so that the union could not challenge the government’s decision.
These victories inspire workers to continue fighting, even when the odds seem against us. Connecting our local struggles globally only serves to strengthen working-class unity and is the foundation from which we will create a fairer and more equitable world.
I am wishing all Unifor members, locals and activists a Happy May Day!