May Day in conditions of the pandemic

CALENDAR OF EVENTS

On the occasion of May Day 2020 during conditions of a worldwide pandemic, the Workers’ Centre of the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist) is organizing a series of video-meetings with workers representing different sectors of the economy to exchange opinions on matters of concern. Everyone who wants to join will be given the opportunity to register beforehand and identify the economic sector where they work or have worked.

The Workers’ Centre of CPC(M-L) publishes Workers’ Forum as a supplement of the Party’s newspaper, The Marxist-Leninist WeeklyWorkers’ Forum has been presenting the views and reports of workers on how to handle the pandemic and their struggles for the working conditions they require to make their contribution to the well-being of the population as a whole.

A salient feature of this pandemic is that working people are speaking out in their own name in efforts to take up responsibility for society during these difficult times. The concentration of decision-making in fewer and fewer hands has created disastrous situations, which make coping with crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic much more difficult. In the face of this concentration of power, workers are fighting for an alternative way of doing things.

Anxiety and suffering intensify within a situation where the decision-making process is not in the hands of those who are affected by the decisions being taken. These decisions from on high come down to workers as a series of announcements and orders, which most of the time do not take into account the reality on the ground. Whether the Prime Minister, Finance Minister or other Cabinet Ministers are announcing what they have decided or these orders come from private owners of economic enterprises or “top management,” the issue of whom the orders serve and the absence of the views of the working people and what they want to happen are never discussed.

The mantra is repeated over and over again that “we are in this together” and “looking after one another is the Canadian way.” But beneath it all, the workers are not treated with the respect they deserve nor given the position of honour and leadership they require to deal with the situation. On the contrary, the ruling elite consider working people to be expendable, a sort of cannon fodder in what they call a war against this new enemy where we are all allegedly on the same side under their strict command and without our voices heard or respected. However, thanks to their continuing struggle for the wages and working conditions they require, workers are fighting to ensure they do not become additional victims of the negligence of those who rule. In this situation workers do not suffer from the illusion that “we’re all in this together” but that insight is not enough.

Now that governments are speaking about restarting the economy, workers have to step up their struggles and speak out even more forcefully to tell governments and the owners of private enterprises what wages and working conditions they require to do their work. Already in Quebec, residential construction sites have reopened without providing the conditions workers demand including such elementary things as soap, running water and provisions for physical distancing. All construction sites are being geared up as well. The Quebec premier first announced that schools were to re-open on May 4, then backed off and said it will be at an alternative date that his government will decide and so too across the country restrictions are being lifted without the assurance that adequate conditions are being put in place to protect the workers and population.

It will not do to make announcements from exalted positions of high authority and then call in police forces to penalize individuals with impunity. The time is now to exchange opinions on the conditions workers need to return to work in a manner that protects their health and safety and that of the population. The longstanding regime of “business as usual” where governments at every level have engaged in a vicious anti-social offensive must be brought to an end. The dire shape of our hospitals, medical system, nursing homes, seniors’ homes, care for the most vulnerable women, children, those with special needs and Indigenous peoples, and the working conditions in the mines, factories and work camps must be set right according to the views and needs of the workers and others directly affected. The dictate of narrow private interests declaring anti-social measures as necessary to “cut costs” must cease. To right itself and emerge from the pandemic not as “business as usual,” society needs an alternative way of listening to workers on the factory floor, in the mines and mills, transportation and communications, agri-business, small farms, the fisheries, sanitation, retail, social programs and all aspects of life. They must  not only listen to those working people on the front lines of the economy but  implement their views in practice.

How to deal with a problem such as the coronavirus is not rocket science. Modern societies know what to do to activate the human factor/social consciousness and how to mobilize and coordinate forces countrywide and worldwide. The biggest problem facing the 21st century is that with few exceptions, the claims of the workers on society are denied and their views ignored. The people who sustain production, the supply chains and systems of health care and education are systematically disempowered by those who have usurped power on behalf of narrow private interests. Even though they are the ones who do the work and face the problems firsthand they are denied their decisive role in decision-making.

The pandemic is revealing above all else and for all to see or want to see that as economies are put back in gear, the working class and others in the population cannot afford to go back to “business as usual.” The ruling elite are telling the working people to put up and shut up because that is your role and what we pay you to do under our dictate of “business as usual.” In response, workers must draw a line in the sand and say with their own voice that “business as usual” is finished. This has been the mantra since free trade was ushered in and people were abandoned to fend for themselves while the rich got richer and the poor got poorer. Despite the wrecking and its consequences to the social and natural environment governments at different levels say it is “business as usual.” This is not an acceptable guiding principle in this century. Workers are determined to become the decision-makers themselves so that they can exercise control over their lives at work and throughout society.

To put an end to this “business as usual” anti-social offensive, workers must continue to speak up in their own name. They must inform the population about their working conditions and smash the silence that keeps them isolated from one another and marginalized. They must stake their claims on the economy as it starts up and the special measures ordered to flatten the curb of the pandemic are lifted. Now and for the foreseeable future, working conditions must be geared to maintaining control over the spread of the disease so that the health system and other aspects of life most affected do not become overwhelmed, while elective surgery and other procedures are allowed to proceed. The suspension of many health services, other than those considered life threatening, is itself causing great anxiety and suffering amongst the people.

Very important in the conditions of the pandemic is to acknowledge that calling for more police powers to set things straight in the seniors’ homes, reservations or communities is a stopgap measure which reveals the desperate conditions that exist and the incompetence of the ruling elite and their “business as usual.” Lost in this call for the military is that workers have to be organized and mobilized to make sure those shameful conditions are dealt with and never return. The police powers are in place to ensure this does not take place. It reveals that the ruling elite are incapable of dealing with the actual conditions because their authority blocks workers from having the authority to deal with the conditions as they must and as they decide. The conditions remain outside the purview of the workers who are not allowed to activate their social consciousness, leadership and authority.

Let this May Day 2020 held in conditions of the pandemic mark a turning point when the workers are not told what to do but start to tell and assert what must be done and to put themselves into a position to make sure it is done. The workers must and can act as an organized force to lay their claims on what belongs to them by right, their wages and working conditions according to their views, needs and modern production. This means all workers are treated with the respect they deserve and receive a Canadian standard of living for fulfilling their duty to themselves, the economy and society.

Workers must also take up organizing themselves politically, not by splitting themselves up into what are called electoral political parties. Those electoral parties are in fact factions vying to usurp the reins of power and deprive workers of their right to decide. Workers organizing themselves politically means discussing together the problems society faces and exchanging views about what can and needs to be done. This is a first step. We urge you to join the exchange of opinions and information that the Workers’ Centre of CPC(M-L) is organizing on the occasion of May Day during the conditions of the pandemic. Let this consultation and exchange of opinions become a permanent feature of life going forward.

Consultation and exchange of opinions are for purposes of the workers setting their own agenda of what they think is important, a platform to consult, listen and exchange views. They are not to lobby for this or that platform of this or that political party, union, government or non-government organization. No attacks of a personal nature or defamation of any kind will be permitted. Those who join the discussion must defend everyone’s right to speak freely. Once one person has spoken, others can speak. They are encouraged to give their own views on the problem under discussion or any other problem rather than agree or disagree with somebody else’s views. Participants are quite capable of discerning where somebody stands in relation to the matter at hand and require a calm atmosphere to draw warranted conclusions.

Let us mark this May Day under conditions of the pandemic with firm resolve to bring in the New!

No to going back to “business as usual”!

No to anti-social “new normals” that justify with high ideals the use of police powers.

Question all decisions that workers have not set for themselves: Together let us defend the rights of all!

All those who want to be included in the video-consultations please inform: workerscentre@cpcml.ca.



May Day Virtual Workers’ Forums
Our Security Lies in the Fight for the Rights of All

Forum in French
Friday, May 1 — 7:00 pm
Forum in English
Sunday, May 3 — 2:00-4:00 pm EDT

On the occasion of May Day 2020, under the conditions of the global COVID-19 pandemic, the Workers’ Centre of the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist) is organizing several video meetings to provide workers who are on the front lines of fighting for their rights and the rights of all with a Workers’ Forum to share their stories and exchange experiences.

All those who want to be included in the video-consultations please inform: workerscentre@cpcml.ca or centreouvrier@cpcml.ca.

Ontario

Online May Day Rally
Friday, May 1 — 5:00 pm

Live link will be posted to the Facebook page the day of the event.
Organized by Toronto Education Workers/CUPE4400 and
the newly formed Labour May Day Committee

For information or to participate in organizing the event
Facebook

Halifax

Mayworks Festival – Online Edition
May 2020

Facebook

We’re going digital with an entirely online festival for 2020 with screenings, playlists, broadcasts and more!

With the global impact of COVID-19, we are hoping to bring arts, entertainment, and social justice to the homes of Nova Scotians by presenting an exciting and varied virtual program, including a new and evolving project: Voice From the Pandemic: COVID 19 & Work. Our goal at Mayworks is to highlight and champion work and workers; we can’t think of a more important period in our collective memory to do so.

Stay tuned for details as we prepare for a new exciting lineup of digital programming in celebration of workers and social justice!

Calgary

May Day Virtual Rally
Friday, May 1 — 5:00 pm MDT

Streaming live on Facebook

On International Workers’ Day, we speak up from where we find ourselves, and where we see ourselves in the days ahead. In our homes and workplaces, we recognize that everything in this society is made by us. We celebrate what workers have accomplished together, and we prepare for new challenges never before anticipated. Workers in the healthcare, education, transportation, manufacturing, retail, delivery, food service, and other sectors are demanding safety, security, and dignity for all. We stand with them, and with those around the world seeking just solutions to crisis.

Please reach out to us – with a message, a photo, or a video – about things you’re seeing in your work and life, and what you wish you could change, with a show of support. We’re excited to share presentations from speakers during the online rally, plus spirited discussion on the current situation and our organizing work. See you there!

Edmonton

May Day Virtual Celebration
Friday, May 1 — 6:30-8:30 pm MDT

Organized by May Day Edmonton and International Women’s Day Edmonton
Listen to live panellists and performers and participate in an interactive discussion
Facebook

Prince George

May Day Virtual Celebration
Friday, May 1 — 7:00-8:30 pm

Working together to fight for the rights of everyone
in the midst of COVID-19 and beyond.
For information about how to join, contact: peter.ewart@shaw.ca
Organized by: May Day Organizing Committee and Stand Up for the North
Poster

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