May Day: The International Day of Labour: Day of labour and solidarity

Statement | 01 May 2020
Numan Özcan, Director of the ILO Office for Turkey
Distinguished friends and partners,

Today is 1st of May, International Workers Day, the day of labour and solidarity. Dating back to the 1880s and born as a result of the worldwide struggle of workers for daily working hours, 1st of May is all the more important today as we come to well realise the importance of solidarity.

Raging all over the globe today, the COVID-19 pandemic has now gone beyond a health crisis to become an economic and labour market crisis. It will unfortunately have devastating impact on millions, particularly on vulnerable populations and those working in the informal economy.

We are living a historic moment when we have to better understand the value of labour, and the importance in our lives of each and every worker ranging from health workers to store workers, bakers to delivery staff, farmers to pharmacists, barbers to waiters and waitresses, domestic workers to taxi drivers. This ordeal has also once again shown us the contribution both at home and work, by women fighting in the front lines against the pandemic.

We, as the International Labour Organization, are investing our utmost efforts to formulate effective, inclusive policy responses to the pandemic within the United Nations system in collaboration with governments and social partners. We firmly believe that the most effective response to this global threat can be developed through global cooperation. In this context, strong dialogue between the governments, employers and workers at national level, as well as between countries and international organisations at international level is essential to develop effective, lasting solutions.

We are at a critical juncture where we most need to collaborate and support one another against the devastation caused by the outbreak. Solidarity is indeed the expectation of everyone, be that a bread distributing worker walking through our street, or a bank teller sweating at desk for his/her labour’s worth, or a worker concerned with contracting the disease at work or being laid off, or a business owner who has had to close his/her business or is tormented over thinking how to survive through this ordeal without laying off their workers…

We believe that policies and actions responding to the crisis must prioritise the most vulnerable and precarious workers among us. Strong social protection systems are critical to protect particularly the most vulnerable.

We hope that the pandemic, which has already affected or will affect almost everyone in the world, will mark the start of a new era where the culture of solidarity and collaboration prevails; and incite everyone to contribute to developing sustainable, inclusive, fair, human-centered and decent policies.

We, as the ILO Office for Turkey, have since the onset of COVID-19 pandemic been working hard to do our part in presenting policy proposals to our partners in Turkey, and supporting the most vulnerable and precarious workers. By this “Special Issue” of our Newsletter released on this special May Day, we wanted to give you a summary of the efforts of both ILO Headquarters and ILO Office for Turkey.

I wholeheartedly wish everyone a wonderful International Day of Labour reminding us the utmost importance of solidarity between workers wish health, safety, and hope for you and all your beloved ones,

Numan Özcan

Director of the ILO Office for Turkey

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