1 May 1886 is marked in the world’s history labour movement as an emblematic date of the world workers’ struggles against capitalist-imperialist system exploitation. On that day, over 200,000 workers in the city of Chicago went on strike demanding the 8-hour workday. On that day, thousands mobilised in Chicago, the American city with the largest concentration of workers in the XIX century. The Haymarket massacre and the death sentence and imprisonment of the main leaders of the strike derived in the International Workers’ Day from 1889 as a tribute to them. 135 years after that heroic action, the world workers keep on fighting against the capitalist-imperialist system that exploits and oppresses millions of men and women all over the world.
Throughout the years since that day, workers have been the protagonists of many struggles in all countries and continents. Strikes, rebellions, revolutions, some triumphant, some defeated, but the working class never ceased to rise against exploitation. It has never submitted to the designs of the bourgeoisie, its parties and governments without engaging in a hard and titanic struggle for its rights and demands.
It is no longer only about the fight for reducing the workday. They posed new challenges to the working class when the world is affected by the pandemic of COVID-19, whose origin lies in the growing destitution, social overcrowding and environmental destruction caused by the predatory voracity of the capitalist system and the big transnationals.
COVID-19, with its millions of infected and dead people all over the world, has dramatically exposed the inhuman and unjust face of capitalism. The decimation of health systems has fuelled the pandemic in all countries, including the most developed imperialist powers such as the United States and Europe. Years of cutbacks in investment, sacking of health workers and tightening of social budgets led to the debacle of public health, leaving the table set for the coronavirus to advance, especially among health workers and the poorest sectors of various countries.
Meanwhile, governments and companies send workers to do their jobs without the slightest protection against COVID-19. They forced non-essential workers to work, and the pandemic spreads.
In the under-developed countries, millions of informal workers are torn between the risk of catching the coronavirus and starvation. The rates of exploitation increase with teleworking. Meanwhile, trade magazines report that the richest have increased their wealth amid the pandemic, and new billionaires join the existing ones.
All this shows that the capitalist-imperialist system exists only for the profit and gain of the multinationals and not to satisfy the basic needs of humanity. Therefore, there is no other way out for the workers all over the world than to fight against this abhorrent and absurd system. The fight for socialism with workers’ democracy and governments of the workers and the peoples of the world.
Chicago workers’ struggle in 1886 continues today in the massive strike in Colombia; the strike of the dockworkers in Chile, of the metalworkers in Brazil, in the gigantic general strikes in India, as the strike of the health workers in Argentina, or of the Amazon of the billionaire Jeff Bezos in Italy; the heroic struggle of the Palestinian people, who rise in Jerusalem against the occupation of the Zionist state of Israel; in the great anti-racist rebellion in the United States that imposed prison for George Floyd’s killer; in the powerful mobilisation and general strike of the people of Myanmar against the military dictatorship.
In 2019 and even in 2020 in the middle of the pandemic, a revolutionary wave of struggles (Chile, Lebanon, Hong Kong, Ecuador, the rebellion in the US for George Floyd’s assassination, the strikes in Europe against the layoffs in Nissan, Renault) has swept the world showing that the fighting spirit of the Chicago workers is still alive in the new generations of workers all over the world.
Workers keep on fighting against this unjust system that condemns the majority to starvation wages, growing poverty and exploitation, while a few get richer on their work and effort. The enormous obstacle is the political and trade union leaderships that betray and boycott the struggles in the name of the working people. So this May Day, the fight continues, for new nonbureaucratic leaders in the unions that take the struggle till the end.
Today, it is crucial to fight against precariousness and casualisation of labour, against unemployment, inequality, growing poverty and the destruction of life on the planet.
In this context, the International Workers’ Unity – Fourth International (IWU-FI) calls to keep on fighting against the two pandemics, the social crisis and hunger, and the COVID-19 health crisis. For a single, free, state-run health care system. No to COVID vaccine patents. Vaccines for all. For a workers’ and popular emergency plan. Higher taxes to capitalists and stop paying the foreign debts. Expropriation of multinationals. For the unity of the revolutionaries to fight for a new anti-bureaucratic and combative union leadership, and revolutionary parties in all countries and a revolutionary International.
Long Live internationalist and socialist May Day!
Long Live the World Working Class!
International Workers’ Unity-Fourth International (IWU-FI) 29 April 2021