As the 2020 Workers’ Day, also known as May Day, is celebrated May 1, under the most challenging condition created by the coronavirus pandemic which forced the world lockdown, UNI Global Union, has said everyone should seek this moment to demand a better world.
UNI, an organisation based in Nyon, Switzerland, representing more than 20 million workers from over 150 different countries in the fastest growing sectors in the world, skills and services, said a total of 90% of new jobs are expected to be in these sectors in the next decade.
It said UNI and its affiliates in all regions are driven by the responsibility to ensure these jobs are decent and workers’ rights are protected, including the right to join a union and collective bargaining.
Through its Sector Global Unions, UNI represents workers in Cleaning and Security, Commerce, Finance, Gaming, Graphical and Packaging, Hair and Beauty, Information, Communication, Technology and Services Industry (ICTS), Media, Entertainment and Arts, Post and Logistics, Private Care and Social Insurance, Sport, Temp and Agency workers, and Tourism industries as well as Professionals and Managers, Women and Youth.
UNI’s Breaking Through strategy is about changing the rules of the game in the global labour market and ensuring justice and equality for working people. UNI is working with its affiliates to organise the global service sector workforce at a time of unprecedented precarious work, and record youth unemployment.
In June 2018, UNI held its World Congress in Liverpool which met under the theme: “Making it Happen” and brought together almost 2,000 participants from 523 organisations in 113 countries. During the Congress, Ruben Cortina was unanimously elected as UNI Global Union President and Christy Hoffman was unanimously elected as UNI Global Union General Secretary with Alke Boessiger taking up the position of Deputy General Secretary .
The Congress constituted the largest single global union gathering in the UK in 2018 and reinforced UNI’s determination to break through for workers all over the world.
Celebrating this year,’s Workers’ Day with a call for a better world, UNI said, “We must seize this moment to demand a better world.”
“May Day is when we celebrate our struggles and wins, and we recommit to fighting for a better world,” said UNI Global Union General Secretary Christy Hoffman.
Hoffman said in her message: “On May Day 2020, there will be no major marches, protests, or rallies, but this does not mean that COVID-19 has silenced unions, far from it. Unions across the globe will be connecting online on 1 May, and over the past few months, they have proven to be more important than ever.
“In every corner of the globe, unions have been fighting around the clock to protect workers’ safety and income during the pandemic.
“In many cases, union representation has been the determining factor of whether workers have safe conditions, access to more pay during a period of no work, and are able to retain their jobs,” said Hoffman. “The proof is there for all to see — collective bargaining and unions are good for workers and good for society. Unions must be an integral part in the post-Covid-19 recovery.”
Unfortunately, the decades-long attacks against unions means that far too few have the benefits of union representation.
The crisis has also exposed the risk posed to society by an unequal economy, which leaves far too many living precariously, without savings, a safety net or social protections. It is not possible for people to stay at home and self-isolate when they have no entitlement to paid leave, or even in some cases, to health care. In the informal economy, and in too many parts of the formalized one, people who do not work, do not eat.
These are all problems which must be addressed as we move towards economic recovery.
“The opportunities for transformative change do not come often,” said Hoffman.
“Let’s seize this moment to demand a global shift. The world will be spending trillions to come out of this economic crisis. How we spend this money and regulate in the post-COVID period will determine whether we reverse inequality or make it worse. It’s a choice.
“One key goal of recovery will be to provide quality jobs and multinationals must play their part to secure the economic future of their entire workforce, including in the supply chain.
“There are three key steps that would guide us towards a fairer future and help build a better world:
- Lift the floor. Everyone – including workers in the informal economy- must have social protection, including paid sick leave, health care and living wages. And we must reinvest in public services, including healthcare.
- Promote collective bargaining. The world needs active government policies, including through spending and procurement, to support collective bargaining across sectors, and employer accountability from start to finish, including through the supply chain.
- Stop the greed at the top. As a start, this means we limit CEO pay and bonuses, share buybacks, and dividend pay-outs at companies requesting bailouts. We need a just taxation system to ensure that the ultra-wealthy and corporations pay their fair share. And we must restrain the digital monopolies.
As we recover from this terrible crisis, we have an opportunity to build an inclusive, green economy. And we can only do it in solidarity. Happy May Day.”