UNI ‘s May Day Message: We must seize this moment to demand a better world
“May Day is when we celebrate our struggles and wins, and we recommit to fighting for a better world,” said UNI Global Union General Secretary Christy Hoffman.
On May Day 2020, there will be no major marches, protests, or rallies, but this does not mean that COVID-19 has silenced unions, far from it. Unions across the globe will be connecting online on 1 May, and over the past few months, they have proven to be more important than ever.
In every corner of the globe, unions have been fighting around the clock to protect workers’ safety and income during the pandemic.
“In many cases, union representation has been the determining factor of whether workers have safe conditions, access to more pay during a period of no work, and are able to retain their jobs,” said Hoffman. “The proof is there for all to see -- collective bargaining and unions are good for workers and good for society. Unions must be an integral part in the post-Covid-19 recovery.”
Unfortunately, the decades-long attacks against unions means that far too few have the benefits of union representation.
The crisis has also exposed the risk posed to society by an unequal economy, which leaves far too many living precariously, without savings, a safety net or social protections. It is not possible for people to stay at home and self-isolate when they have no entitlement to paid leave, or even in some cases, to health care. In the informal economy, and in too many parts of the formalized one, people who do not work, do not eat.
These are all problems which must be addressed as we move towards economic recovery.
“The opportunities for transformative change do not come often,” said Hoffman. “Let’s seize this moment to demand a global shift. The world will be spending trillions to come out of this economic crisis. How we spend this money and regulate in the post-COVID period will determine whether we reverse inequality or make it worse. It’s a choice.”
One key goal of recovery will be to provide quality jobs and multinationals must play their part to secure the economic future of their entire workforce, including in the supply chain.
There are three key steps that would guide us towards a fairer future and help build a better world:
- Lift the floor. Everyone – including workers in the informal economy- must have social protection, including paid sick leave, health care and living wages. And we must reinvest in public services, including healthcare.
- Promote collective bargaining. The world needs active government policies, including through spending and procurement, to support collective bargaining across sectors, and employer accountability from start to finish, including through the supply chain.
- Stop the greed at the top. As a start, this means we limit CEO pay and bonuses, share buybacks, and dividend pay-outs at companies requesting bailouts. We need a just taxation system to ensure that the ultra-wealthy and corporations pay their fair share. And we must restrain the digital monopolies.
As we recover from this terrible crisis, we have an opportunity to build an inclusive, green economy. And we can only do it in solidarity. Happy May Day.”