Covid-19 lockdowns temper labor movement’s May Day


With restrictions owing to the coronavirus pandemic in place around the world, many labor groups are marking International Workers’ Day on Friday in subdued fashion. But as a global coronavirus-induced recession rears its head, some leaders say that protests on the public holiday are more important than ever, Deutsche Welle reports:

Police in Istanbul detained 15 trade unionists on Friday morning, blocking their attempt to defy a curfew. The groups planned to ignore the lockdown and march to the iconic Taksim Square…. Authorities in the Philippines arrested at least three people, where rights groups say around 23 million people are facing hunger as they cannot work owing to the coronavirus lockdown. Riot police in Hong Kong also mobilized for pro-democracy protests

Solidarity Center

The traditional festival of the workers’ movement usually attracts millions of people to loud and boisterous marches through the streets, AFP adds:

This year the date carries extra significance after the Covid-19 outbreak sent the global economy into a historic tailspin and put unprecedented numbers of people out of work. But with drastic social distancing rules to halt the spread of the disease, labour leaders have opted to postpone the public gatherings or move events online.

In the wake of the #COVID19 pandemic, “we can’t go back to the old normal,” said the Solidarity Center, a core institute of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), calling for a new social contract with no exclusions.

We need to make sure EVERYONE has access to minimum social protections, guarantees that includes minimum labor protections for ALL workers, no matter their status,” Chidi King told an @ituc #MayDay online forum.

CNN explains the origins of the international labor rights holiday#MayDay2020 

Using the hashtag #virtualmayday, labor groups highlighted videos from trade unions around the world, with speeches, music and stories from workers’ struggles on every continent.

Virtual May Day is a joint project of LabourStart
The International Trade Union Confederation
Building and Woodworkers International
Education International
The International Federation of Journalists
The International Transport Workers’ Federation
The International Union of Foodworkers
Public Services International
and UNI Global Union.

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