Workers Rights and Social Justice Week


Programme for the “Workers Rights and Social Justice Week”:

People Before Profit Cllr Shaun Harkin said,

“Working with the trade union movement we proposed the Derry & Strabane Council host a ‘Workers Rights and Social Justice Week’ to ensure the contribution of workers – past, present and future – would be properly marked this year and every year going forward. We are delighted that despite the Covid-19 crisis an excellent programme of events has come together. From the shirt factory workers and the dockers to our health care workers and food workers today – the week of events will pay tribute to their role in shaping the city, challenging injustice and in making sure our society can function in the midst of this pandemic. 

On behalf of People Before Profit we want to thank everyone who has helped shape the programme for the first Council hosted ‘Workers Rights and Social Justice Week’ in Ireland and everyone who is contributing to the week of events. We have encouraged trade unions and campaigners to call on their local Councils to host similar events in every town and city across the island. 

Until Covid-19 the central role of workers was ignored and too many were treated as disposable with poverty pay, declining working conditions and had their democratic right to trade union representation curtained. The ‘Workers Rights and Social Justice Week’ will make sure the contribution of workers is never allowed to become invisible again. The Covid-19 crisis has made clear what work and whose work is society is essential. It is often the case the most essential jobs are the most poorly paid. Front line workers have stayed on the job to make sure the sick and vulnerable are cared for, to make sure we have food to eat and to make sure our rubbish is disposed of. The fact that many of them rely on food banks should be a source of embarrassment to the great and the good – and those in the political establishment who regularly tell us about ‘making hard decisions’. Taking hard decisions is about standing up to poverty and injustice not letting elites trample down on ordinary people. 

Many have said we are not going back to what constituted ‘normal’ before the global pandemic. Many say a great reckoning is coming. We should welcome this. The era of corporate greed, privatisation and of political parties belittling workers with pay cuts must and the destruction of our welfare safety net must come to an end. This will not happen automatically. There are many who are already lining up justifications for new pay freezes and new ncuts to our public services that will lead to the further immiseration of the many so that a tiny few can control wealth they didn’t create. 

The triple crisis of capitalism – the global health pandemic, the economic meltdown and the climate emergency requires action on a massive scale. Those of us with a different vision for society must rise to the challenge. The ‘Workers Rights and Social Justice Week’ can help educate a new generation on how ordinary people in their workplaces and in their communities campaigned for justice, dignity and equality. 

We encourage everyone to support the events and join us in paying tribute to front line workers on May 1st with noise, red flags, union banners and signs for workers rights.”