International Labor Day 2023: WORKERS FIGHT BACK FOR A BETTER WORLD
We are one with the working class and all toiling masses, oppressed peoples and nations, in celebrating International Labor Day 2023. We hail our heroes and martyrs in the struggle against exploitation and all forms of oppression, against monopoly capitalist greed, social inequality and injustice.
The incomplete and unequal recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated the long-standing crisis of the world monopoly capitalist system. This is a fight back year for all workers.
Entire nations are under extreme imperialist extraction of superprofits and financial strangulation by imperialist states and their multilateral agencies, banks and trade agreements. Capital and labor are locked in fierce battles. Inter-imperialist rivalries are intensifying with more destructive force and real nuclear danger. More nations and peoples are asserting their sovereignty. National liberation movements persist seeking a better world free from imperialism, neocolonialism, fascism, plunder and war.
No future with imperialism
The insoluble crisis of capitalism in its dying stage of imperialism has brought us closer to conditions leading to the misery and devastation of the first and second world wars of the last century. Along with imperialist policies to pass the burden of their crisis on the working people, wars of aggression and fascism are once again on the rise. At the labor front, union rights are denied in 113 countries today.
The neoliberal regime of the Washington Consensus to overcome stagflation (co-existence of inflation and slow growth) of the 1970s was imposed for more than four decades. Trade and investments were liberalized, state assets privatized, and government regulations eased for doing business. Capital intensive high technology accelerated the general crisis of capitalist overproduction while cutting jobs, creating more unemployment and depressing wages. The toiling people are dispossessed not only of their means of livelihood but of their own future.
The social character of production is enhanced by scientific progress, new materials, high technology and processes. However, monopoly ownership and private appropriation of wealth created by social labor has never been so pronounced.
Imperialist “globalization” promised better well-being, prosperity and democracy. However, it only brought greater misery, poverty, and inequality. Basic social needs like health and education suffer under private profits. Wealth is amassed and concentrated like never before. The richest one percent bag twice as much as the rest of the world put together with 1.7 billion workers living with inflation outpacing wages.
Today, we are back with stagflation worse than the 1970s. Cheap money to tide over the 2007-2008 recession led to the current world debt exceeding 350% of the global GDP. Even bourgeois economists see today a sharp economic slowdown, high inflation, growing debt burden, and rising cost-of-living. This time, the crisis is compounded with new economic, political, social, technological and environmental challenges.
For advanced economies, the IMF sees the slowdown to be more severe, with a decline from 2.7 percent last year to 1.2 percent and 1.4 percent this year and next. Nine out of 10 advanced economies are likely to decelerate. So-called emerging market and developing economies have already bottomed out as a group. Even by 2024, projected average annual headline and core inflation will still be above pre-pandemic levels in more than 80 percent of countries.
The World Bank has predicted a global recession for 2023, anticipating GDP growth of 1.7%, the slowest pace outside the 2009 and 2020 recessions since 1993.
War production and a new arms race spiraled as imperialist wars of intervention and aggression intensified. The US War on Terror after 9/11 spawned greater terrorism, death and destruction. Close to a million have died while trillions of dollars were spent in US wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, and Pakistan. With US support, Israel escalates its own Zionist attacks in Palestine, Lebanon and Syria.
The war in Ukraine provoked by US-NATO expansion to the borders of Russia drags on with huge loss of life, stiffer sanctions and blatant sabotage of the Nordstream gas pipeline. Food and fuel prices skyrocketed. The US military pivot to Asia to contain China, as well as to confront North Korea and Iran, sparked new tensions in the region. Biden continues the Trump policies of trade wars and sanctions against its rivals.
Meanwhile, no significant new steps were taken at the climate summit last year to curb emissions. Only token funds for environmental loss and damage and climate finance were reached. The green economy touted by corporations became a greed economy for monopolies. Military spending by governments far exceeds humanitarian aid for victims of natural calamities, extreme weather conditions and ecological disasters.
Cultural decadence, crass commercialism, individualism, bigotry, and “post-truth” beliefs spread with the imperialist offensive to deceive and poison the minds of the working people. Big data mining and surveillance into private information and communication are used by corporations, governments and deep states for economic and political suasion and control.
Workers see no future under the imperialist world order. More than three million people are expected to lose their jobs this year in addition to the 208 million already unemployed. Job quality deteriorates further with working women, youth and migrant workers becoming more vulnerable. Repressive states trample over workers’ lives and union rights as imperialist wars effect massive destruction of productive forces.
Groundswell of workers’ struggle
The post-war strength of trade unions has declined. Socialism suffered serious historical setbacks. The Cold War ended but generated new geopolitical tensions as the US desperately seeks to maintain its declining world hegemony.
Yet, the imperialist crisis generates resistance, as the late ILPS Founder Jose Ma. Sison expounded. Socialism is not dead. The ILPS is learning its lessons well.
Working peoples are organizing and fighting for their wages, jobs and rights. Workers are uniting across gender, racial, cultural and ethnic lines. Even gig workers are organizing. We are fighting as a working class. We are fighting for the 99%. We are fighting together with all oppressed nations and peoples.
While the International Labor Organization (ILO) seeks a new global social contract to meet the challenges faced by labor, the working people themselves are in the forefront for social change.
Workers strike across Europe calling for higher wages amid rising inflation. Early this year, 500,000 workers joined protests in the UK, as teachers, train and bus drivers, university lecturers, civil servants and airport staff staged walkouts. More than 1.28 million people took to the streets in France as unions intensify their fight against the government’s pension reform to raise the retirement age. Public transport across much of Germany is hit by public sector strikes in six states. In Spain health workers held huge Madrid protest over the health system.
In the US, workers are forming new unions. US labor strikes were up 52% last year as worker activism rises. Big union contracts are set to expire this year and more struggles are up ahead. The fight for $15 minimum wage is gaining ground, as well as other active social movements.
Labor unions in Japan’s automakers are calling for the highest-level wage raises in years to offset rapid inflation. Workers also joined protests against expanding military bases.
Last year, over 250 million workers in India joined protesting farmers in one of the biggest nationwide strikes ever. The strike was jointly launched by ten central trade unions. They resolved to fight back labor codes, policies of privatization, subjugation of the Indian economy to international capital to the detriment of Indian self-reliance, sovereignty and independence.
Half a million workers in Sri Lanka’s public and private sectors joined strikes and protests in March against IMF measures. These include a pay as you earn (PAYE) tax on workers’ salaries, increased interest rates on bank loans, cuts in overtime payments, privatizations and tens of thousands of state-sector job cuts.
In Indonesia, workers continue to protest the so-called “omnibus law” that will allow employers to cut mandatory leave and slash severance pay, The law is also criticized for stipulating that environmental studies be required only for high-risk investments.
A high-level mission of the ILO to the Philippines witnessed the growing unity among workers against extra-judicial killings, abductions and other rights violations as they struggle for wages, jobs and democratic rights. Meanwhile, government raids on South Korean trade unions were denounced.
In Latin America, strikes and blockades were up in Panama, Ecuador, Peru, Brazil and Argentina. Glencore unions in Argentina, Chile, Colombia and Peru are calling on the multinational to respect labor and environmental rights. Deadly political confrontations arise in Brazil and Peru, along with US intervention in Mexico.
South Africa’s largest public sector workers union continued to protest across the country. People across South Africa staged a nationwide strike. In Eswatini, between South Africa and Mozambique, workers confront Africa’s last absolute monarch for killing unionists. Tunisians mobilize against rising political persecution and government’s move to reduce subsidies on essential commodities.
All over the world, workers are struggling beyond union and shopfloor demands. The working people are taking their future into their own hands.
Persist in the struggle for freedom, democracy and socialism
Workers in all countries confront a system of exploitation and injustice. As we fight for our immediate trade union and social demands, we are conscious of raising the economic struggles to direct political actions against imperialism and local reaction.
We need to combat the imperialist lies, disinformation, and false narratives. We need to exchange information and study hard. We must deepen our social investigation on the working and living conditions as we integrate with the masses. Workers need to unite with all oppressed peoples and nations. We ourselves must systematically organize and mobilize the working people to ever greater struggles for freedom, democracy and socialism.
Workers’ parties and movements are renewing their strength as they take root among the masses. They are consolidating ideologically, politically and organizationally. Labor advocacy is spreading and engaging governments and inter-governmental agencies. New alliances, networks and anti-imperialist formations arise on various issues and levels.
There is no other alternative to the capitalist world but a world for working people and humankind. The ruling classes can no longer rule in their old way. We can no longer live in this same old way. The rotten system must be broken up and smashed. Workers with our unity can build a better world in our time and for generations to come.
Long live Labor Day!
Long live international solidarity!
Fight for freedom, democracy and socialism!
28 April 2023