WDF calls for an end to exploitation of workers through collective struggle

Islamabad, 1st May 2024. WDF’s statement on International Workers Day.

Women Democratic Front pays tribute to the workers in Pakistan and across the world on the 138th International Workers Day (Labour Day) and calls upon trade unions, progressives, associations, informal workers collective, peasant movements, student and women organisations to collective struggles for the right to life, health, shelter and education, leading to a workers-led revolution.

On May Day, we pay homage to the wins and sacrifices of labour: the very labour that builds our cities, countries and even homes. Our younger generations have grown up amidst a crisis born out of a cruel capitalist system. They must learn that throughout history, workers have bravely opposed oppressive regimes. Now is the time for us as workers to ensure that we consign this bankrupt capitalist system to the dustbin of history where it belongs.

May Day is the heart of the international socialist movement, a day of solidarity with workers. On this May Day, as we unite in the spirit of a working class revolution, we must confront the interconnected struggles of workers everywhere, from the streets of Pakistan to the besieged lands of Gaza.

Our fight for justice is inherently bound to the plight of the oppressed, and the exploited. As socialist feminists, we recognise that the struggle against capitalism cannot be divorced from the fight against patriarchy, colonialism, imperialism, and all forms of oppression. The working conditions in Pakistan are in an abysmal state, exacerbated by the burden of neoliberal debt and inflation. The deteriorating conditions faced by workers and the draconian anti-people policies enforced by the IMF allow the continuing advance of a right-wing agenda in our countries. Pakistan’s external debt of US$130 billion will further affect the lives of the working class as there will be increased taxation, reduction of subsidies, low wages and dehumanising working conditions.  We eject the war and debt-driven economy and call for a collective struggle to establish a people’s democracy in Pakistan.

In Pakistan, as we gather in solidarity with our fellow workers, we must also acknowledge the systemic barriers faced by women, by oppressed communities, and by those who toil in the shadows of exploitation. Women continue to work longer hours per day than men in both paid and unpaid work, spending at least two and a half times more time on unpaid household and care work than men. From the Lady Health Workers denied fair wages and protections to the home-based workers facing rampant exploitation, our comrades are on the frontlines of resistance against capitalist exploitation. The stories of domestic workers and working class khwaja siras resonate deeply with our shared experiences of exploitation and injustice, and underscore the feminisation of labour and poverty. Their struggles underscore the urgent need for organised labour to address the systemic inequalities ingrained within our economic structures.

Our labour sustains the world, yet we remain undervalued and overworked. As socialist feminists, we demand not only fair wages and working conditions but also a fundamental reimagining of labour itself. We reject the capitalist narrative that equates our worth with productivity and profit.

But our solidarity must extend beyond borders. As we speak, the Israeli regime continues its brutal assault on the people of Gaza, indiscriminately targeting civilians, including frontline workers and medical personnel. This is not just an attack on Palestinian lives; it is an attack on the very humanity that we hold dear. We cannot turn a blind eye to the Israeli genocide of Palestinians in Gaza. We cannot stand idly by as our comrades are killed for daring to provide aid and care to those in need. We must condemn this violence in the strongest possible terms and stand in unwavering solidarity with the Palestinian people in their struggle for freedom, justice, and self-determination.

Today, as we rally, as we raise our voices in defiance, let us remember the power of collective action. Let us honour the legacy of those who came before us, who fought and bled for the rights we now hold dear. And let us recommit ourselves to the fight and dream for a world free from exploitation, oppression, and injustice.

In solidarity and struggle!