by Jesmond Saliba
There have not been many International Workers’ Days, down the decades, as significant as this one. The socially-mobile, knowledge-based, IT-powered economies that power contemporary society have remoulded the meaning of May Day, but this year there is a genuine sense of solidarity among workers around the world.
The global pandemic has distributed the weight of community wellbeing onto the shoulders of frontline workers – those engaged in healthcare, basic retail, essential supply chain, and key public services. Another tier of workers forming other industries, from technology companies to corporate advisory to manufacturing plants, are providing the needed propulsion to keep the economy going throughout the slow period. Sadly, there are also many businesses and whole sectors that have been forced shut and whose workers have lost their jobs.
Today, every worker is aware that the worth of their roles is not only in sustaining their families or their immediate colleagues, but in supporting other workers across industries too. And for an economy like Malta, it also means contributing to a common effort across borders, particularly with partner countries in the Single Market.
Co-incidentally, the first day of May also marks Malta’s accession in the European Union. In the sixteen years since joining the bloc, we have established our position solidly at the heart of the EU integrating flawlessly into the Schengen area and the Eurozone, too.
While our country has, so far, averted the catastrophic health emergencies that overwhelmed other members states, we are not immune to the economic shocks that rang around the entire region. It is clear that there needs to be a coordinated response to conquer the outbreak and its damaging effects.
EU institutions together with national governments have been admirable in their proactivity and cooperation to implement solid schemes, revise laws and channel resources that buttress European businesses and safeguard people’s jobs.
A successful rebuild from the ashes of the coronavirus will require tenacious team spirit among EU nations and, more specifically, European workers. The double celebration on this first day of May is probably the finest expression of the co-dependence of work and unity to produce authentic human dignity.