Many workers around the world are faced with new challenges and hardships as they bear the different burdens of the Coronavirus outbreak. Some have lost jobs and, with little or no savings, face real threats of homelessness or hunger. Others must still work to survive as they have no choice and put themselves at risk. However we must all remember that millions of people must do this - with or without the Coronavirus. Coronavirus is just spreading the misery to more people.
While some retain their jobs and work at home by computer, millions of others are still out on the fields. There is usually little regard shown for their health and safety. In the IWA, we have comrades who live in extreme poverty, picking tea in Bangladesh; we have comrades in different countries in high-rish professions whose bosses do not want to insure them or take measures to improve safety, who live in situations where bosses force people to come to work sick and one must choose between their health or paying rent and buying food. This is the reality for millions of workers – not only in what we consider the poorer parts of the world, but also in rich industrialized regions. And it is exactly against these types of problems – which show a basic disrespect for workers' lives – that we organize every day.
For nearly a century, the International Workers' Association has organized and fought against the exploitation that comes inherently with the system of Capital and wage labor, We carry on the tradition of those who came before us who fought for the same ideals – such as the Haymarket martyrs, fellow anarchists who fought for the 8-hour day and against brutality waged against workers by the bosses, whose struggle led to the introduction of the May 1 holiday – the International Workers' Day.
The struggle that we initiated years ago is needed now more than ever! Years have passed and we have witnessed the undeniable direction of world capitalism. Those with capital have been reeping the benefits of our labor and control most of the world's wealth. The gap between rich and poor has grown in most parts of the world. People with more wealth still exploit the resources and labor of poorer parts of the planet. Millions of people are faced with problems related to ecological distruction that threaten their very survival. All of these problems come from the same essential source.
Capitalism is its various forms is contingent on greed and philosophies of power. It is anchored by states and instruments of public control which protect the propertied classes. Against this stand the libertarian ideas of our workers' movement, which seeks to create an egalitarian society where all can enjoy the fruits of their labor and have sufficient free time for other activities and for participating in the self-management of the workplace and society.
In our vision, there is no place for castes of workers who must do all the dirty work. Instead there is sharing of responsibility for the work which is essential. In our vision, there are no homeless people sleeping in front of empty hotels or farms destroying food because they cannot sell it to restaurants. These sights are part of the sick responses of a system which has made everything for sale and for profit - not for social use.
This vision must be fought for and, over the years, people have been put off course many times. We have been faced with the absolute violence of Bolshevism and fascism. Workers around the world have been distracted by the promises of consumer culture or made busy surviving. Our lives have been robbed and are being robbed.
Every year around the globe, millions of workers go out on May Day. The workers of the IWA also can be found on the streets of many cities, trying to bring out the relevance of the day and sometimes targetting workplaces in which their members are fighting. This year, some comrades are determined to return to the streets, even despite bans on demonstrations (even with social distancing). Others may not be able, but that doesn't mean that they have forgotten. The reality is that May Day is every day. May Day is not just one day of the year when we show we are workers and we are struggling for something. Our struggle is visible in the different things we do throughout the year. It can also be for you.
We are sure this year we will see some creative forms of observance, with people determined to at propagate our ideas, to show support and solidarity with ongoing struggles around the globe. If you are reading this, you probably can too. Each shared article spreads the ideals and shows our contempt for the situation we have been brought to by the current social and economic system.
However, we need to stress that what we need to come out of this situation stronger and not weaker is more organization. Not the organization of leaders herding people into political parties to jut themselves into position of power or to divide the world further into groups of „better” and „worse” people. We already have enough of this and it is something distracting people from realizing their real interests and fighting for the benefit of us all. Things may get increasingly worse in the near future for many millions or even billions of people if we don't take serious measures to take back control of our lives, the planet and the wealth that was created by our labor.
From the IWA, we send our solidarity to those who are currently in struggle as well as to all those who are in permanent struggle, our brothers and sisters around the world who are responsible for making the world run. The bosses are NOTHING without us.
Secretariat of the IWA
Warsaw, April 29, 2020