Unity. Solidarity. Action.
In light of COVID-19, we’ve seen a lot of different and drastic things happen in and to society. It seems that most Canadians have come together in all sorts of ways to support each other in these uncertain times. Whether that be one person running to get groceries for multiple households, or standing together to strike against lack of health and safety protections at work.
We’ve seen what defines essential workers as many workplaces have been forced to close their doors to the public, but people still need groceries, prescriptions, or a visit from the plumber. Essential and frontline workers have been keeping Canadian society going, but at a very high cost mentally, emotionally, financially and physically. They have literally risked their lives as COVID-19 deaths climbed to help us through this – yet we still view the vast majority of them as we did before: undeserving of a living wage and simple human decency because they messed up your coffee in the Tim Hortons drive thru.
It’s because of this ideology that even though they’re incredibly important in commerce structures, capitalism and profit seem to weigh more in many eyes. It is because of this that many have begun to stand together to fight and break down this ideology, that workers – especially those who have been holding the economy, as fragile as it is, together throughout the past eight weeks – demand better. Because it shouldn’t be a profit over people mentality.
General strikes have begun to pop up globally. These strikes have demanded that the ‘normal’ we were living in is not the ‘normal’ we go back to, the the new normal is defined by people receiving basic human rights such as a living wage, proper protections at work, and the ability to live their lives without aspects, like eviction, loss or job and bankruptcy, threatening their day to day lives, but even more so during hard times such as a global pandemic.
Eyes have been opened to how easily society can function without many of the things we were living with, and how unessential many things we were told were so crucial to the economy are. People are angry that capitalism and its demands have put profits and stocks over all forms of health and have neglected so much of the human aspects that they are rising up in solidarity, through action and demanding better. Workers are over being exploited, taken advantage of and bullied for the sake of being essential. If they’re so essential, why are they not afforded proper PPE, better pay, easier ways to navigate the system and generally taken seriously? We say they’re essential yet still treat them as if they deserve their minimum wage job and will never be better than that.
Although still a relatively small movement, these general strikes seem to be gaining momentum. But it’s not simply about the strike action. It’s the principle behind it. It’s about the unity and solidarity of the working class coming together for a common goal – respect, decency, equity and to be given what they truly feel is deserved of them. It is about the idea that the 99% is much stronger than the 1% that has been calling the shots for too long. Strength in numbers.
It is with this passion, this drive, this advocacy and action that we can carve out a new normal that allows for a living wage, respect, and decency in the work, for workers to have more agency that is taken seriously. And the next time a global pandemic happens, ALL workers will be protected and taken care of. You cannot have an economy without workers, yet you cannot have workers unless society and government view them as they deserve.