An ILO conference adopted a declaration committing to enhance action towards the development and implementation of national policies to reduce and prevent inequalities in the world of work, through social dialogue. Such policies will respond to national circumstances, needs and priorities, based on tripartite consensus.
This coming Monday, we will join workers around the planet in celebrating the historic victories of the labour movement — and honoring those who continue to struggle for a better world today. International Workers’ Day is a celebration of history — the living, breathing history that is made and remade every day by working people.
It was the revolutionary aspirations of workers that brought us the eight-hour workday, the weekend, the minimum wage, and the great processes that, from Petrograd to Yan’an to the Sierra Maestra, took the first bold steps towards socialism and left a permanent mark on our world. International Workers’ Day protests began in 1886. In the United States, mass protests of working people led to a general strike that mobilized 300,000 workers spanning 13,000 businesses across the country. These demonstrations lasted for days. In Chicago, police attacked picketing workers at the McCormick Reaper Works, killing six and injuring many more. The following day, during protests in Haymarket Square against this brutality, a bomb was thrown into the crowd by a suspected industrialist provocateur. In response, the police massacred scores of civilians and later executed prominent leaders of the labor movement.
Today, as then, labor remains at the vanguard. From India to Britain, the Republic of Korea to the United States, workers are rising up against the ravages of neoliberalism and reactionary authoritarianism. The struggle is existential. As Workers’ Memorial Day — commemorated today around the world — reminds us, many people never come home from work. In fact, more people are killed at work each year than at war. From the lithium mines of Zimbabwe to the garment factories of Bangladesh, capitalism’s untraceable, global supply chains force workers to risk their lives in the service of bosses, shareholders, and empires. But it is the unemployed and underemployed, the healthcare workers and peasants, the fast food workers and cleaners, the textile weavers and delivery drivers, the sanitation workers, and others who, in their struggles for dignity, democracy, and peace, are history’s motor force. As Karl Marx wrote in the Economic & Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844: “The entire so-called history of the world is nothing but the creation of man through human labor.” Labor makes our world — and struggle makes us human.
On Monday, across the Progressive International family, we will honor all workers — from those who broke the shackles of capital to construct new societies, to those fighting for dignity and rights in the face of brutal exploitation today. “As long as the struggle of the workers against the bourgeoisie and the ruling class continues, as long as all demands are not met,” Rosa Luxemburg wrote in 1894, “May Day will be the yearly expression of these demands.” Workers and oppressed peoples of the world, unite! In solidarity, The Progressive International Secretariat