133 years after the Chicago events, here we are celebrating our “International Working-Class Day” together on 1st May. For the International YCW, May 1st is the day we raise the flag of our struggles and demands along with the worker movement at the international level. Every year from 24th April to 1st May, we organize an International Week of Young Workers (IWYW) with activities which have a political and training impact in countries around the world.
Decades of struggles by the international worker movement have gone by and the IYCW, through its actions, has taken part in them. However, the achievements we have accomplished in a number of countries over the years are now regressing. This regression is due to new conditions of exploitation at work that have an impact on young workers’ lives and undermine workers’ struggles: increase in working hours while salaries are decreasing, new jobs on virtual platforms, unequal rights between men and women and pre-determined gender roles at work, high rate of informal work in the world but lack of social security for workers in the sector…
I migrated to the capital city to look for better living and working conditions. I am now working in an industrial laundry where I get paid proportionally to my production. I work 12 hours a day in shifts: one week on the day shift, the next on the night shift.
(Testimony of a young woman worker from the Americas)
This testimony of life, like thousands of others around the world, reflects the conditions of exploitation we face with long working hours. Our evaluation of the world extends beyond the new forms of work created through technological advances. We perceive a threat regarding the creation of new options as a working class. We see that we need to rethink the role of the “worker movement” as a historical subject; we need to redefine its demands in the face of the new “world order” which is constantly reshaping international policies. Each country determines the jobs it must generate on the market based on the logic of reinforcing capitalism. The educational system is designed according to the work model and pattern needed in the future, forcing young workers to integrate into that model. We are experiencing a large wave of migration as a consequence of inadequate job policies. The social security and protection system is weakening in many countries.
After nine months, the agency informed us that part of the project funding was coming to an end, so they had to lay off workers. Three months before the end of my contract, I had to inform the employment agency that I would be unemployed and once again I had to send job applications and perpetuate the cycle.
(Testimony of a young European woman worker)
Our dream of dignified work and life is more and more remote from reality. Young workers live in an educational model which teaches them to serve the interests of capitalism. We see young people who are far from their family circle because of the phenomenon of forced migration of workers. They go abroad to find a job and help their families meet their daily needs. A lot of governments, however, have no concrete program for migrant workers, including those from their own countries. The social protection model is mostly paid by workers, and governments do not have a clear policy regarding this contribution.
Faced with this situation, our IYCW international movement is wondering where the articulation forces of the worker movement are today? Who and where are the subjects of the international worker movement? Which practices of action shall we implement as references to change our reality? What is our role in the world today and how shall we fight those injustices? What is our reference in the world today as an international movement?
The International YCW is launching an international appeal to all sectors of the worker movement to:
- Create mechanisms and strategies of articulation to address the erosion of workers’ social achievements everywhere in the world.
- Carry out solidarity actions in different ways: statements, sharing experiences, solidarity rallies, international campaigns showing common realities at the international level.
- Develop training and awareness-raising to strengthen our commitment and raise the flag of our demands and struggles to come.
The International YCW says again and again:
We want a 1st May filled with protest and fighting spirit!
We want a 1st May where all workers of the world enjoy equality and dignity!
Brussels, 1st May 2019
The International YCW