Wed May 22, 2024
May 22, 2024

May Day in Ukraine Celebrates Workers' International Solidarity

On May 1st, around 60 members of trade unions, social movements, and left-wing activists gathered in Lviv for the International Conference on the Dimensions of War to discuss the situation of the Ukrainian working class and the necessary international workers’ solidarity to strengthen Ukrainian resistance against military aggression led by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The location could not be more appropriate. Ukraine is at the center of the international class struggle and resistance against Russian military aggression. It is in the interest of the international working class as well as all oppressed peoples fighting for national liberation.
The conference was held at the Municipal Palace of Culture Hnat Khotkevych in Lviv, a place built by workers of various nationalities in 1934 for labor, political, and cultural workers’ activities. The site hosted an important anti-fascist congress in 1936 with representatives from Ukraine, Poland, and Belarus. The Palace is located in the same area where the Nazi occupation imposed the formation of a ghetto to imprison and crush the Jewish population during the second world war. (I)
The international delegation was made up of trade unionists from OZZ Inicjatywa Pracownicza (Poland), CSP-Conlutas (Brazil), Union Syndicale Solidaires (France), ADL-Cobas (Italy), Geguzes 1-osios profesiné sajunga – G1PS (Lithuania), in addition to two members of the socialist organization RCIT.
This delegation was received by around 40 Ukrainian activists, including trade unionists from the Kryvyi Rih Miners and Metalworkers Union, Lviv Construction Workers and Railway Workers, the women’s organization Feminist Workshop, the refugee rights organization Work Safe, in addition to the left-wing organization Sotsyalnyi Rukh who organized the event. (II)
The Horrors of War
The conference dealt with different aspects of the war.
One was the involvement of the working class in armed resistance. Unionists from Kryvyi Rih gave a live video conference report on the armed workers’ self-organization in one of the country’s main industrial centers 60 km from the military front. Another moving account was that of a young Ukrainian socialist activist, a member of the leftist organization Sotsyalnyi Rukh, who is enlisted in the army and who sent a message for international solidarity – workers and socialists – in uniform and with a gun in his hand.
Another face of the war is the situation in areas under Russian military occupation or on the front lines. A railway unionist described the dramatic situation in the region around Kherson where the population, particularly in the surrounding small towns, do not have regular access to food, medicine, and medical treatment, and who are victims of extortion at the enemy army checkpoints. A volunteer activist and a nurse were broadcasted live from Kyiv to report on the situation in hospitals and treatment centers for disabled people in the capital where bombings combined with the lack of health and social care workers, as well as medical provisions, constitute a devastating scenario.
Another dimension is the situation of the population in areas furthest from the military front, as is the case of Lviv and most of the country. The effects of the war are also dramatic. One of the reports dealt with the effects on the mental health of the population, part of which suffers from depression and feelings of guilt for being alive while thousands of compatriots lose their lives. Another report dealt with the situation of women who are responsible for maintaining families.
There is also the situation of refugees, whether they are inside the country or in neighboring countries. There are hundreds of reports of human trafficking, either for precarious labor or for prostitution.
Contrary to the efforts of the working class to resist Russian military aggression, the Ukrainian parliament, under the hegemony of liberal bourgeois parties, passed a bill for a general flexibilization of labor rights during the war that is being used particularly by large companies in areas far from the military front to suspend the regular payment of wages and labor rights. This decision, endorsed by the Zelenskii government, weakens the resistance and constitutes yet another anti-worker face of this war. (III)
Another very important issue was the launch of the campaign for the cancellation of Ukraine’s external debt. In addition to being illegitimate, this debt multiplied with the beginning of the Russian aggression on February 24th. Despite the campaign, the imperialist powers and the international banks are silent on the possibility of canceling the unfair debt.
Finally, we expressed solidarity with the incarcerated Belarusian trade unionists of the radio and electronic components industry. These unionists are in prison on the grounds of “extremism” for openly condemning the military aggression against Ukraine.
Workers’ Aid Convoy to Ukraine
This international conference was complemented by the arrival of the Workers’ Aid convoy in Ukraine. The convoy was started by organizations of the International Trade Union Network of Solidarity and Struggles to express the solidarity of the international working class with the Ukrainian working class.
From a list of emergency items drawn up by Ukrainian trade unionists, close to two thousand pounds of dry foods, ready-to-eat baby food, batteries and power generators were delivered to the independent union of miners in Kryvyi Rih. (IV)
IWL-FI participation

The International Workers’ League (Fourth International) is proud to stand unconditionally in the military camp of the Ukrainian resistance against Russian military aggression. In the face of most leftist organizations that oscillate between supporting military aggression, neutrality, or pacifism, the IWL-FI supports the Ukrainian resistance as well as its right for self-defense with weapons that come even from imperialist countries. We have no confidence in the Zelenskii government, which, as a representative of the interests of the Ukrainian oligarchy, endorses a labor reform that weakens its own resistance against Russian aggression. We also defend the dissolution of NATO, CSTO, and all military pacts meant to save the capitalist international order. (V)
We promoted fundraising for the Kryvyi Rih Independent Miners’ Union and participated in the May Day demonstrations in several countries where we carried the message of unconditional support for the Ukrainian resistance.
Our activists were part of the Brazilian delegation of CSP-Conlutas that, together with other organizations of the International Trade Union Network, promoted the Convoy of Workers’ Aid to Ukraine, and which participated in the International Conference in Lviv on May Day, materializing the unity of the international working class.
IWL-FI militants already had a similar experience during the war in Bosnia (1992-95), when participating in the international campaign of Workers’ Aid to Bosnia that organized 12 humanitarian aid convoys delivered to the Tuzla miners’ union. (VI)
We will continue to make efforts, to the extent of our strength, for the victory of the Ukrainian resistance and its future developments in other countries, particularly within Russia, neighboring countries, and oppressed countries.

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