Stand in solidarity with the workers in forging the future

By APRN | May 05, 2023

APRN May Day Statement

Recently, the world celebrated International Labor Day by recognizing the contributions and achievements of workers. It is a day to honor the hard work and dedication of workers who are the true drivers of growth and progress. The Asia Pacific Research Network (APRN) is in solidarity with the working people in forging a better future.

However, we must also recognize that workers continue to face numerous challenges, including low wages, unemployment, unsafe working conditions, and unfair labor practices.  The world is confronted with economic recession and geopolitical tensions that gravely affect workers.

The job crisis from unemployment remains at an alarming number of 205 million globally, and will likely increase by three million before the end of 2023. Global unemployment is still much higher than pre-pandemic levels of around 13 million. There are 268 million people who are outside of the labor force but in reality are discouraged jobseekers and unpaid care workers. The gender situation remains bleak as the number of women outside the labor force is twice that of men. Women tend to spend more time on unpaid care work than men, which limits their participation in paid work. Overall, the combined number of unemployed and those outside of the labor force stands at 478 million people. 

There are at least 2 billion people who are in informal work and are less likely to have access to social protection. Furthermore, an estimated 214 million workers are living in extreme poverty with an earning of less than $1.90 a day, while the world is facing price shocks, such as oil, food, and energy due to unfair trade deals, disruption of the global supply chain,  Russian-Ukraine war, and the proxy wars by the US. The High inflation and the rising cost of basic commodities are outpacing wage growth, leading to a decline in the actual value of workers’ earnings. Without significant wage increases, more people will be thrown into deeper poverty. 

In addition, migrant workers in high-income countries who come from the Global South are often subject to abuse and exploitation from their employers. Many of their jobs are precarious, temporary, and lowly paid. Some of the migrant workers are also victims of illegal recruitment, contract substitution, racism, xenophobia, sexual abuse, and fraud from crime syndicates in connivance with corrupt government officials. Migrant workers are forced to work abroad due to a lack of employment opportunities, poverty, and landlessness in their home countries. The neoliberal order intensifies the labor-export policies that allow developed countries and corporations to take advantage of the cheap labor of workers from poor countries. 

While billions of working people are plunged into poverty and instability, the super-rich and financial oligarchs continue to rake in fortune. Since Labor Day, Bernard Arnault of Louis Vuitton amassed $11 billion more in a month and is now the richest man worth 236.7 billion dollars. Elon Musk of Tesla ($172.7 B); Jeff Bezos of Amazon ($127.4 B); Larry Ellison of Oracle ($118.5 B); Warren Buffet of Berkshire Hathaway ($115.7 B). . Their wealth continues to increase dramatically by $2.7 Billion per day, while 1.7 billion workers’ wages barely keep up with inflation. 

But despite tremendous odds, workers are resisting and confronting corporations and their governments. 

In France, millions of workers and students converge in the streets of Paris to resist the pension reforms of the Macron government which aims to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64. While thousands of postal and railroad workers participated in the nationwide strike over below-inflation salaries in the United Kingdom

In Tunisia, the Tunisian General Labor Union (UGTT) led massive rallies to defy the crackdown against unionists and political opponents of president Kais Saied’s tyrannical rule. 

In India, thousands of workers and farmers marched to the capital, New Delhi, asking for relief from inflation, wage increase, pension for all farmers 60 years old and above, and for the repeal of four anti-labor codes. 

The recent transport strike in the Philippines protested against Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s government’s program to phase out the country’s iconic public utility vehicles, the jeepneys. The strike was supported by commuters and thousands of workers from across the country who rely on jeepneys as cheap means of transportation.

In Indonesia, thousands of workers also took to the streets their defiance of president Joko Widodo’s use of emergency powers to railroad the unconstitutional job creation law. The opposed job decree will allow employers to remove mandatory paid leave and cut the severance benefits of workers.

APRN stand with the workers in their struggle for a living wage, decent work, social protection, the right to organize, and, end repression. The Network reiterates its commitment to the workers’ movement in raising capacities and helping empower the working people to claim their rights.

Standing in solidarity with workers means recognizing their contributions to society and supporting their efforts to build a better future for themselves and their communities.

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