To celebrate Labor Day, look at what Labor is doing around the world.

1. Australia celebrated its Labour (that’s the Australian spelling) Day in Queensland on May 6. Thousands of workers marched through the streets of Brisbane asking for a pay rise.

Ros McLennan (Queensland Council of Unions) said that people are struggling to make ends meet. “They are stuck in labour hire, casual work or on sham contracts.” Many workers live paycheck to paycheck and can’t really plan for the future.

2. Europe launched the results of its annual Global Rights Index (from International Trade Union Confederation in Geneva).

  • Trade unionists were murdered in ten countries: Bangladesh, Brazil, Colombia, Guatemala, Honduras, Italy, Pakistan, the Philippines, Turkey and Zimbabwe.
  • The number of countries which stop workers from the right to establish or join a trade union increased from 92 in 2018 to 107 countries in 2019.
  • Out of 145 countries surveyed, 54 deny or constrain free speech and freedom of assembly. Workers experienced violence in 52 countries.

3. Asia reports that Thailand was the setting of the Education International World Congress. It was held in Bankok. EI General Secretary David Edwards’ made the following comments:

“People long for community. A sense of community can come with a common identity around shared values. Or identity can be used as a weapon to exclude and divide.

 That is why schools and curricula have become the targets of so many negative, destructive campaigns by authoritarian, populist nationalists.

 Neither educators nor trade unionists can change the world alone. However, we should never underestimate our contributions and impact. We are in every community. We work every day with the future:  young people. What would happen if only we recognized our collective power, vision and leadership.”

 4. North America reports that Honduran workers continue to fight for their rights. A group of farmworkers in southern Honduras on melon plantations decided that enough was enough. They joined STAS—the only union in Honduras that is organizing previously unorganized workers.

The response was brutal. Multi-national fruit company Fyffes intimidated, fired and blacklisted union members. The union members are unemployed but continue to fight for their right to organized and bargain collectively.

5. South America reports that Colombia palm workers won a landmark agreement. Some 750 palm workers at Colombia’s largest plantation sighed agreement with their employer, Indupaolma, giving them decent wages and safe working conditions. The workers formed a union.

6. Africa reports that Kinshasa, Zaire will host the 5th Pan-African Conference on November 1-2, 2019. The topic is “Our Vision for Africa, mother language, culture, civilization, tradition.”

The Pan-African Conference will strengthen trade unionism in African countries. The Conference will deal with these issues: Health Services for workers and their families, decent housing and clothing as well as education for all children.

 Let all of us continue to work for unions. Remember the force of our collective power.

(Source: Union Labor News, September 2019)