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Happy International Workers Day!

April 28, 2011

This May 1st, workers all over the world will be celebrating International Workers Day. Our own Hesperian offices will be closed the following Monday, May 2nd, to show our solidarity with workers all around the world. Although International Workers’ Day originated in the US, we no longer celebrate it with other nations, instead celebrating our Labor Day in September, stripped of all political significance.

In the marches, speeches, and assemblies that happen on International Workers’ Day, unions and workers’ groups speak about organizing, labor laws, and campaigns for better wages and benefits – powerful messages the reflect the current race-to-the-bottom capitalism that is oppressing workers worldwide. However, these groups often leave out issues of occupational safety and health (OSH). OSH groups worldwide mark a different day, April 28th, as Workers Memorial Day to commemorate workers who were injured or killed at work and to call for more safety in the workplace.

You can find events in your city or community here.

With limited funds and manpower, groups that support workers often have to make a very tough choice: work for better salaries or work towards safer jobs. In our newest book-in-development, A Workers’ Guide to Health and Safety, Hesperian is trying to merge these approaches into a more holistic and comprehensive understanding of workers’ health: one in which low salary affects health just as much as poor ergonomics does. By including all the social hazards of working in a health framework, the Workers’ Guide makes the case for a labor movement that includes OSH.

You can learn more about this new material or find ways to be part of its development process by writing to Miriam at [email protected]

We also encourage you to stop by the Addison Street Windows Gallery if you’re here in Berkeley – there’s a great show of photographs of migrant workers and political activists in the US and Mexico called “Beyond Borders”. The window gallery is between Shattuck and Milvia, and the photographer, David Bacon, is a friend of Hesperian and long time activist writer and photojournalist. You can read more about the exhibit and David’s work here

Photo of ASU contingent at the Brisbane Labour Day March, May 3, by Holly Paterson