Home>Editorial>Opinion>Statement by Guy Ryder on the occasion of International Labour Day, 1 May 2021

Statement by Guy Ryder on the occasion of International Labour Day, 1 May 2021

This year we again celebrate May Day, International Workers’ Day, under the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The pandemic has devastated the world of work, destroying jobs, enterprises and livelihoods, throwing millions into poverty and global development into reverse.

And like most crises, it has hit the weakest and the most vulnerable, the hardest, making an unequal world even more unequal.

The pandemic and its consequences are a stark reminder of global interdependence.

That applies to health as much as it does to our working lives.

No one is safe until everyone is safe.

No one can afford to be indifferent to the situation of others in the face of the fragility of the interdependent world that we have constructed.

Solidarity is key to our common survival and prosperity, within borders and across borders.

As we deal with today’s crisis and look to the future, one thing is clear: we need a human-centred recovery, with justice and equity, a recovery that is sustainable and inclusive of all.

Building back better means making deliberate and coherent policy choices:

  • to generate jobs and do a short, decent working conditions for everybody;
  • to extend social protection;
  • to protect workers’ rights; and
  • to use social dialogue.

And on this May Day, we recall historic struggles that brought hard-won gains.

Today, again, extraordinary sacrifices are being made by people in the world of work to beat COVID-19.

We salute them, just as we mourn those whose have lost their lives, but, we must never sacrifice our values of social justice, nor our fundamental rights at work, nor our determination to build the better future which, is the meaning and the purpose of those who have celebrated May Day around the world for so many years.

In many ways, the pandemic has brought darkness to our lives and made that task more difficult.

Yet, it has also brought new possibilities that we can and must pursue.

The flux of crisis gives us space to rethink, make new choices and new commitments for people, for planet and for prosperity.

On this International Labour Day, the ILO calls on workers, employers, governments and international organizations, everybody committed to building back better, to join forces, to bring in a world of work with justice and dignity for all.