ITUC May Day 2022: Trade unions stand for peace

With Russia’s illegal and brutal invasion of Ukraine, armed conflicts are being fought in every region of the world.

Some 60 conflicts are happening now, with millions of victims. Hundreds of thousands of lives have been lost in Tigray and Yemen alone.

In recent years, 25 million people have been forced to become refugees outside their home country, and tens of millions more are displaced internally, the vast majority of them in less wealthy countries.

Peace is at the heart of the ITUC’s values, and the absolute rejection of the atrocity of war must drive the achievement of a framework for common security, cemented on the principles of the United Nations.

That framework must address the ideological, social and economic causes of conflicts and hold to account those who are responsible for initiating and sustaining wars and for committing war crimes wherever they occur.

As the International Labour Organization’s constitution says: “Universal and lasting peace can be established only if it is based upon social justice.”

There is no greater demonstration of the need for a new social contract than this fact, which was established with the foundation of the ILO over 100 years ago.

Where people are deprived of the economic security of decent work, where workers’ rights and other human rights are trampled, where billions of people have no option but to work in the informal economy, where lies and propaganda replace truth, the hope and promise of peace in the world is far from within reach.

At a time when global tensions, exacerbated by Putin’s war, are high, trade unions, as the largest democratic and representative force on earth, are in the forefront of defending democracy, ensuring rights, avoiding armed conflicts and overcoming the devastating impacts of war on people’s lives.

Jobs, rights, wages, social protection, equality, inclusion

On this May Day 2022, we reaffirm our commitment to peace and to the social justice required to ensure it. This must be built on the foundations of the new social contract – jobs, rights, wages, social protection, equality and inclusion.

These are the requirements for lasting peace and shared prosperity, for ensuring the just transition the world needs to overcome the climate emergency, and for the resilience needed to manage and overcome global shocks.

We salute the tireless work of our trade union colleagues in conflict areas to deliver humanitarian support, welcome refugees and overcome the causes of conflicts. We also salute the work of those currently living in peaceful circumstances to achieve social justice and thus provide the foundations for common security.

We are determined to change the rules of the global economy that are skewed towards rewarding greed, undervaluing the contribution of people – especially women – at work and in society and enabling autocrats and tyrants to subjugate their own people and people in other countries who are forced to live among the inhuman reality of armed conflict.

The strength of our principles and values is matched by the strength of our organisation and our determination to build workers’ power.

Every worker who chooses to join a union reinforces that power and adds to our collective strength as a movement that exists to maintain the achievements of union action in past years, and to extend them into the future. That’s how we can build and secure peace.