International Workers’ Day: building workers power for a new normal

May Day comes at a crucial time. Across the continent, communities are coming together and working people are carrying societies through the Covid-19 crisis. One thing is clear: a return to pre-crisis times is no longer an option. Instead, services sector unions are aiming for a new normal based on social justice and the primacy of human life.

“There is no going back to business as usual. Working people have put themselves on the line, many have lost their lives on the job. We will not, on top of that, pay the price of austerity as we did in the last crisis. This May Day marks a turning point, towards societies that put people’s needs first. To get there it is imperative that we build collective rights,” said Oliver Roethig, UNI Europa Regional Secretary.

More than ever, strengthening and expanding collective bargaining is key. During the crisis, workers who had a say over the design and implementation of protective measures in their sectors and workplaces were significantly safer. In a clear demonstration of the role of collective bargaining, workers have been using their influence to protect themselves, their families and their communities when under threat, ultimately delivering stronger and more inclusive societies for all. This should be our template for rebuilding Europe. Neo-liberalism has failed in two crises in ten years. We need a strong state, strong unions and collective bargaining.

“May day is all about solidarity. We have seen a lot of that recently and we are going to need a lot more going forward. Collective bargaining rights are at the core of our drive to build workers’ power towards a fair society where everyone can prosper. Collective bargaining depends first and foremost on a strong collective and we know that, across the continent, no single country can turn the tide alone. That’s why, at UNI Europa, we are organising across borders to win these rights for all,” explained Oliver Roethig.

UNI Europa is joining UNI Global Union and the Council of Global Unions in the Virtual May Day celebrations, hosted by Labour Start. Further information here, join us from 9:00-21:00 Central European Summer Time.