Czech Republic: May Day Legacy, Declaration of Trade Union Association of Bohemia, Moravia & Silesia (OS CMS)

Things that seemed to us until recently to be completely self-evident are once again becoming a matter of concern for workers and other workers. With their policies, right-wing, neo-liberal governments worldwide are now throwing workers to the beginnings of their struggles for basic human, labour and economic rights. Even the hard-fought eight-hour working workday is far from the basic security of workers today. But the time that has elapsed since the events of Chicago in 1886 is not just the individual, spontaneous resistance of workers against exploitation and enslavement. It means 138 years of significant international solidarity for workers and other workers, exploited and oppressed in the struggle against the pressure and demands of national and transnational capital, the struggle for basic human dignity and the struggle for peace.

International solidarity is one of the most powerful weapons that workers have in the whole world, Czech Republic included. When used, it can threaten and thwart the anti-popular and wartime imperial plans of the ruling elites installed by supranational, military-industrial, banking capital. That is why transnational corporations, their installed national governments and the serving layers of society corrupt workers’ organizations, trade unions, trying to break them up, to disrupt their cooperation and possible unity.

The environment and events in the Czech Republic are no exception. For decades, what we have taken for granted in terms of the status of employees and other workers, seniors, young families, has been liquidated with no compensation. In the last few years, this pressure has intensified. The right-wing five-coalition government has initiated, and they are implementing, a strongly anti-grassroots, anti-social policy on the domestic scene against employees, other workers, seniors, young families whose status is steadily deteriorating. In the foreign area, they are implementing a pro-US policy of warmongering, armaments and intolerance. The Czech Republic is increasingly drawn into protracted conflicts both in Ukraine and in the Middle East. The government does not defend the interests of the majority of the Czech Republic’s population either domestically or abroad. It relies on minions who deliberately spread demagogic anti-communism and negate any social element. All this is covered up by claims of the need to rein in rising state debt and inflation.

However, things that seemed to us until recently to be a matter of course must again be vigorously taken and fought for! It is necessary to overcome together today’s disunited and watered down trade union movement in our country. Workers who once again, mostly alone or in the timid but necessary attempts of today’s fragmented trade union movement, try to defend their fundamental rights, cannot stand alone. The fragmented trade union movement must be brought to work together and act uniformly against government action. In this sense, we offer a platform of the World Trade Union Federation, which is not corrupt, has principally defended the interests of workers, other employees and other working people from the positions of the left-wing, class-oriented trade union movement for almost eighty years.

Today, by its interventions, the government is directly attacking the eight-hour working day. It wants to free up the cost of human labour in the sense of European Union policy and to preserve as much profit as possible as well as the private ownership character of its redistribution. It is trying to make the labour market more flexible with notions of free labour tied to short-term and only part-time jobs. It is attacking the system of taxation of workers’ incomes, limiting social and health expenditure; it wants to introduce further, higher regulatory fees in the health sector. It is trying to capitalise pension provision. A wide-ranging amendment to labour law is being prepared to limit the position of workers in the employment relationship and to strengthen the position of employers in the area of redundancies, to mitigate the position of trade unions. For whom are these measures being introduced? For almost four million employees, or mainly for employers or even just under one hundred and eighty thousand of the richest in our society?

The Trade Union Association of Bohemia, Moravia & Silesia firmly rejects the possibility of immediate dismissal of employees without giving a reason, and, moreover, by e-mail. 

Still, the government is not yet firing on the workers; it is “only” upset when the unions abandon the tripartite negotiations, try to protest publicly, and take advantage of the moral and action weakening of the “largest” Confederate (ETUC affiliate) union headquarters. But it was this corrupt five-coalition government that, immediately after its appointment, attacked social peace and put workers and unions on the streets. After all, the penal code equates strike with so-called class struggle, and that is a criminal offense. For the right-wing, It is an insurance policy of its position of power in society to stay immutable.

We strongly reject the governmental current domestic and foreign politics! Employees and old-age pensioners cannot pay the debts and war interest of the current government. They cannot pay rising interest to churches on church restitutions. They cannot pay for poor health policies leading to cuts in basic health care and the closure of children’s wards. Teachers cannot be dismissed just because the government is incompetent and unable to provide sufficient funding for primary education.

The Trade Union Association of Bohemia, Moravia & Silesia firmly rejects the proposed pension reform. The seniors have the right for a decent old-age provision, an active, full-fledged life, not to be the beggars. We want to maintain a continuously funded solidarity pension system, and not capitalise it with banks.

The Trade Union Association of Bohemia, Moravia & Silesia expresses its deep solidarity with the trade union headquarters, which are facing pressure on the position of workers within Europe and across the World. We demand a quick solution and the end to the war conflicts in Ukraine, in the Gaza Strip, we reject the genocide of the Palestinian people, we believe that it is not in the interest of the people of Israel either. People have the right for living in peace!

Let’s join together in the fight for a dignified life and peace. This is our call on May 1, 2024, the legacy of the American workers of Chicago 1886. August Spies’ last words: “There will come a time when our silence will be much more powerful than the voices you have strangled today!”, carved into a monumental bronze monument on June 25, 1893 in Chicago, USA, are our common memento, just like May 1, 1890 in Prague on one island in the middle of the Vltava river.

OS ČMS Headquarters, in Prague,  Czech Republic, April 30, 2024.