Ideological principles of May 1st Labor Union
- May 1st Labor Union is a union of all workers. We consider the absolute majority of people who do not have another means to live but by selling their labor power to be workers. These include not only those who are actively involved in the labor market (employees), but also the unemployed, those unable to get employment, performing unpaid reproductive labor (raising children or looking after old or sickly people), students, and retirees. In contrast to other labor unions, we do not consider labor disputes to be the only expression of workers’ interests. To us, resistance against the rising prices of food, rent or living expenses, the fight for widely available and quality healthcare, education and other public services are just as important. Information on their rights should be as widely accessible as possible to all workers, not only union members. The workers’ movement should be grounded in solidarity and collective action.
- May 1st Labor Union does not consider employers to be partners of workers, does not think that the interests of these two sides are compatible and does not seek mutual benefit in their relations. We consider relations between employees and employers in which the former, in order to be able to survive, are forced to sell their work, while the latter can impose their control on the former while also pocketing the profit (which is value created by the workers) to be fundamentally unjust. Attempts to present these two parties as partners that have the same amount of power with respect to each other are attempts to conceal their inequality. Whenever there is an attempt to find “a solution that is useful to all parties”, the workers always lose. This is why May 1st Labor Union always seeks only better working conditions and greater negotiating power for the workers.
- The goal of all workers’ organizations should be a more reliable livelihood won over from their employers. Today, many people are not bound to a consistent and stable workplace. Many do not know what work they will have to take on even in the near future, while a secure livelihood has become a privilege. This precarity for workers is accompanied by lower accountability for bosses and their greater power over workers: when it is easy to get rid of an employee without consequences, it is also easy to make them work without pay. Despite all of this, May 1st Union does not consider wage labor to be a valuable in itself and does not aim to restore a stable and long term model of work and life that existed for some people in the past. May 1st Union aims to not only defend existing workers’ rights, but to expand them – to achieve shorter, safer, and better paid work for all.
- May 1st Labor Union does not differentiate between bad and good work, or man’s and woman’s work, but it does emphasize the problem of unequal distribution of labor. Unpaid emotional and reproductive work should be recognised and paid for as such. Unwashed dishes, childcare, and housework must belong to all and not just be “the second shift” for women. The commodification of a female worker to a mandatory smile, pleasant communication and representative appearance should not be taken for granted as not demanding effort and economic resources. Different gender roles are exploited in the market and because of that, work that traditionally is considered to be woman’s is lower paid and carries a greater risk of poverty.
- May 1st Labor Union is strongly against any form of discrimination and upholds the practises of emancipatory politics. Even though we stress the opposition between workers and bosses, we do not consider workers to be a homogenous group, and we understand that certain social groups are more vulnerable due to their sex, skin color, origin, sexual orientation, social status, religion, beliefs or views. Thus we try to bring to our practise many diverse and varied voices, while aiming to overcome different forms of oppression.
- Anyone can be a member of May 1st Labor Union, despite the country listed in their ID card or whether they have the right to work in this country or not. Often politicians and even labor unions foster division among workers against those that come from other countries, speak different languages or have a different religion. This is a smokescreen that both impedes organisation in workplaces and and covers the real economic inequality and reasons from which it stems. May 1st Labor Union pursues solidarity of all the exploited in in the fight against class and other forms of oppression.
- May 1st Labor Union actively seeks to involve its members not only in the organisational activities and decision making of all the union, but also in concrete fights against concrete exploitation. The activity of unions should not remain in frames of formality, when all that a union does is legally represent its members. In this way, the activity of unions becomes nothing more than a service that reduces workers’ rights to bureaucratic processes, while decision-making in conflicts with their employers remains in the hands of union bosses and lawyers. This not only discourages people from getting involved in actively fighting for their rights, but also, when workers are not directly involved in these negotiations, creates the possibility for union leaders to give in to pressure from employers.
- May 1st Labor Union encourages local initiatives and creation of union branches that follow the above principles in all regions of the country. Unions should not be only accessible in the three big cities. We aim to create a network of autonomous branches that would not be dependent upon orders from a central organ, but would be democratically coordinated among each other.