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Covid19 Global Human Rights Labour Rights Opinions

A Very Special Labour Day

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Today is labour-day in my part of the world, and I want to wish you all a good one.

This spring has been difficult for many. Many have lost their jobs, many have been put on leave on short notice. While governments are giving bailouts to large industries and the owners of those industries many are struggling to put food on the table. This May day is thus perhaps the most important one in decades, the one where we have to set things straight and figure out what kind of world we want to live in, not tomorrow, not when all this is over, but today. One where we prioritize the regular people who now are suffering, or one where we subsidise those who have enough, investors and industries that ultimately destroy our environments.

We have learnt a lot this spring, about which workers are essential when push comes to shove. Today we should celebrate the nurses and healthcare workers who fiercely have fought the pandemic, but also those who provide essential infrastructure, the shopkeepers keeping the groceries stores open, putting their health at risk for the common good, the restaurant workers and the delivery guys bringing food to the millions now staying at home. I hope we will remember them also when this is all over, and that we will celebrate them and reward them for this effort.

I hope we will remember the farmers begging for the borders to be opened for foreign labour as they lacked the manpower to prepare for spring, showing how essential migration is to food production in parts of the world. Perhaps it will lead to more open borders, more freedom to move and to work where work is found.

For many this spring has lead to changes in how they work. Personally I consider myself lucky to be able to work from home. Google Hangouts, Zoom, Jitsi and more is now the new norm rather than countless meetings in office buildings, nights in hotels around the globe and late-night flights.

Working from home has been hard on many, yet for many, it has also been a time to reflect, and redefine, and perhaps remember that ultimately we are not defined by our jobs or titles, we are more than that. We are human.

So regardless of where you are, what situation you are in, remember your value, remember your rights and remember who we counted on in these difficult times.

Happy labour day!

  • Bjørn Ihler is the founding Editor in Chief of Activism Academy and co-founder of The Khalifa-Ihler Institute, the organization behind the academy. Ihler has a long track record as a contributor to multiple international publications and is a well renowned activist working among others with the Kofi Annan Foundation to counter violent extremism.