Solidarity in Times of Crisis: Editorial

Mar 31, 2020

As I write, workers and communities across the globe are struggling to confront the dual health and economic crises born of the Coronavirus outbreak.

It is in moments like these, when the health and well-being of all our sisters and brothers across the globe is at stake, when oppressed people of the globe confront yet another obstacle in their struggle for justice, and when workers in all nations deal with historic rates of joblessness, that we must hold fast to the value of solidarity.

Solidarity in such times as these means supporting those who have the most to lose. It means celebrating those health and home care workers who defend our communities against the virus, it means thanking our truck drivers, our shelf packers, and our teachers. And it means doing all we can to stop the spread of the virus.

Immediately, Union Aid Abroad – APHEDA is assessing how we can best support our partner organisations get through the crisis. Because already, they are in the thick of defending workers and communities. The looming crisis across the Global South  – in South Asia, South east Asia, Africa and Latin America – is terrifying as populations that are already malnourished or immune-comprised by disease or poor health face sickness and death.

The pandemic threatens to devastate the health services of refugee camps across the globe. Social distancing in crowded camps is extremely difficult. That’s why in Lebanon, the Palestinian Women’s Health Organisation, is immediately working to minimise the risk to refugee families by distributing health and hygiene kits to mothers and children.

In South East Asia, the virus is closing factories across the region. In Myanmar, the Myanmar Industry Craft Service Trade Unions Federations, is calling on the government to make sure that employers don’t exploit the health crisis to sack workers, close factories, and bust unions and is fighting for planned minimum wages to be implemented. How garment factories across our region can recalibrate to respond to the global shortage of masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE) is an area of urgent focus across the region.

And in the Philippines, the authoritarian regime of Rodrigo Duterte has secured extraordinary powers amidst the health crisis. Unions in the Philippines are working together and organising to keep Duterte in check, and they are calling for a special quarantine leave for all those unable to work because of the virus.

In the coming days, we will keep you up-to-date on how workers across the globe are reacting to the health and economic crisis. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to read updates from our partner organisations and read about their campaigns and demands in these critical times.

We will shortly launch an appeal for funding to support the efforts of the unions and community organisations we already work with who are already working to protect lives and livelihoods. If you are employed and able to support the appeal, please do!

Across the globe, workers are joining unions and demanding capital put people before profits. The Coronavirus pandemic is challenging decades of neo-liberalism, the destruction of universal health care globally and the rise of individualism and greed. The wealth of the 1% is on full, gluttonous display. We cannot go back now. We need secure employment for all, fully funded public health services, eradication of debt to poor countries, an end to corporate greed (and much more!).

We have to organise to fight for global justice for EVERYONE, EVERYWHERE.

Here are some key websites to stay in touch with what unions are doing around the world for safety at work and for communities:

Make sure you only circulate quality information on how to stop the virus:

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