The right to be paid a just wage, have union rights and job security are basic rights of working people all over the world. A decent wage ensures that workers can earn enough to meet all their expenses, and to be able to plan for a secure and comfortable future. The fight and struggle for workers for social justice was at the center of many Risings in the last three years, and the Revolution campaign further escalated a call for equal rights and just and humane treatment for all workers globally. All over the world women workers rose against exploitation of labor and capitalism. They rose for their right to employment, humane working conditions, liveable wages, and their right to form unions for the protection of their rights. They rose to implement laws to ensure their right to work in conditions and spaces that accord them dignity, respect and safety. Apart from economic violence caused by poverty and bureaucrat capitalism that has seen the share of global wealth going to the most powerful corporations on the back of labor forces around the world, women workers everywhere, in particular, are also subject to specific exploitation and abuse because of their gender – specifically sexual harassment, sexual abuse and rape. The Workers Rising initiative is fuelled by the collective actions of grassroots workers around the globe who are fighting against the most severe forms of exploitation and inequality. People around the world are Rising against social discrimination and stigma given to workers, and the de-valuing of their integral contributions to society.
Examples of Workers Rising:
Justice for Domestic Workers in the UK rose for Justice and Revolution in their ongoing call for the Re-instatement of the Overseas Domestic Worker visa and for the UK to ratify and implement the Domestic Workers’ Convention; IL0 C189, recognising domestic workers as workers.
Kilusang Mayo Uno (May 1st Movement) – is the most radical independent labor center in the Philippines promoting genuine, militant and anti-imperialist trade unionism. The women workers of KMU, for the last three years, rose for wage hikes, and rose against contractualisation, union busting, and privatisation of public hospitals and maternity wards. They also rose for the struggle against labor and capital, rose to defend their trade union and democratic rights, and rose to seek an end to foreign domination and control of the United States over the Philippines, which gravely affects the sovereign and economic rights of the workers.
The Alianza Nacional de Campesinas (The National Farmworker Women’s Alliance) unites the voices of farmworker women from across the US in a national, grassroots movement that advocates for changes in policies and practices that perpetuate the cycle of poverty and injustice. Its members in 15 states across the US rose against domestic violence, as well as labor exploitation and abuse. For the last two years they have also rose in a nationwide campaign led by the women farmworkers to put pressure on Immigration Reform.
In October, 2014 One Billion Rising activists joined Restaurant Opportunities Centers United (ROC-United), restaurant worker organizers, and elected officials in support of RISE FOR A FAIR WAGE at the #NotOnTheMenu rally at City Hall Park in New York City where they called for an increase in wages and an end to gender discrimination and sexual harassment in the restaurant industry. A few months later they celebrated a huge victory when Governor Cuomo announced a raise to $7.50 an hour for New York’s 400,000 tipped workers. Dedicated activism and support for the ongoing campaign made this victory possible, but there is still more to do in order to review the entire two-tiered wage system at a national level.
Watch Saru Jayaraman co-director and co-founder of Restaurant Opportunities Center (ROC United), Ashley Ogogor, a member of ROC United, and Eve Ensler as they discuss the groundbreaking report The Glass Floor: Sexual Harassment in the Restaurant Industry and the need to RISE FOR THE RAISE on Democracy Now!
For One Billion Rising for Justice in 2014, Southeast Asian domestic worker and alliances (Asian Migrants Coordinating Body/ Gabriela Hong Kong/ Jaringan Buruh Migran Indonesia – Network of Indonesia Migrant Workers/ Justice for Erwiana and all Domestic Workers Committee/ Hong Kong Women Workers Association, Migrante, among many others) Rose for Justice for Erwiana – a domestic worker from Indonesia working in Hong Kong who was severely abused and tortured by her employers. The broad alliance of domestic worker and migrant groups from all around Asia rose against poverty, modern day slavery, social exclusion and for justice for Erwiana and all domestic workers.
In 2015, for One Billion Rising Revolution, the Southeast Asian Domestic Worker and Alliances network held a large gathering of
migrant and domestic workers from the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand and Nepal celebrating the court victory of Erwiana, who successfully sued her employer who was found guilty of torturing her – helped in large part by immense international and local visibility and pressure. Last February 15th, Erwiana, who was slowly recovering from her injuries, joined Hong Kong’s radically joyous and militant OBR Revolution event as they celebrated her win. Erwiana danced and rose in an emotional celebration with all the domestic and migrant workers and Hong Kong citizens who had supported her – a celebration that showcased the strength of global solidarity.