International Workers’ Day is a day of honor for working people’s struggles, both in Cyprus and across the whole world. Here in Cyprus we also honor the struggles waged by working people. We pay tribute to our own struggles for the establishment of an eight-hour day, social insurance, equal pay, collective agreements, the Cost of Living Allowance (COLA), safety and health at the workplace.
However the 1st May is not simply and unambiguously about paying tribute to the struggles that were fought in the past. It is also the springboard for the struggles already being waged and for future struggles. These struggles are being waged with confidence and faith in the power of the working people. International historical experience, but our own experience too here in Cyprus, proves that workers have won rights and benefits, improved their working and living conditions because they waged class struggles. Working people know that nothing has been given to them on a plate. What they have won, they have won through fierce and, sometimes, bloody struggles.
Struggles whose main characteristics are organisation, collective actions, unity, determination and solidarity. The class-based trade union movement in Cyprus has written history with its struggles,
given that these struggles have resulted in many significant gains.
It is through these struggles that even the seemingly unattainable and impossible became possible, was won and became a right in our lives.
It is through these struggles that working people believed in their own strength and abandoned pessimism and fatalism.
The working people’s path to progress is not a path paved with rose petals. As long as the social system is based on the exploitation of people, as long as the main contradiction between labour and capital determines their existing conditions, nothing can be considered permanent and given. After all, this has been demonstrated many times throughout history.
Decades after fierce working people’s struggles resulted in the gain of the eight-hour day, today it has again become a demand for working people. Don’t we all see so many workers who are not working and without being paid as they should be whilst working ten hours and even twelve hours a day? Decades after working people won through hard struggles work with insurance and rights, many workers today work uninsured, without basic rights, without any collective agreements, without the right to organise themselves in trade unions. Even Sunday as a holiday for workers has now ceased being a holiday for everyone.
Big capital never sits back and does nothing. It tries to get back what it is obliged to concede. Always looking for alibis and excuses in economic crises, the consequences of which it seeks to shift on working people’s backs. Even in times of crisis, big capital tries to maximise its profits and make society pay the cost of losses. That’s precisely what capital is doing now.
At the same time as profits are increasing and expensiveness/price hikes are on the rise, wages remain stagnant. The day-to-day life of working people, of low-income strata – and now of the middle strata too – is a struggle to make ends meet. To survive the month with an income that is eroded by expensiveness and the high cost of living. To meet their basic obligations. A significant section of society is now struggling to be able to secure the basics, to be able to provide the basics.
This is the situation internationally, this is the situation in Cyprus too. This is a situation that has been exacerbated by the war in Ukraine. It is no coincidence that there are mass and continuous strikes by working people in France, Germany, Portugal, Portugal, the United Kingdom, the Czech Republic, Greece and many other countries. Working people are once again taking their fate into their own hands, defending their gains and asserting their rights.
This is what is precisely at stake. For working people and society, but also for the People’s Movement to defend what has been won. To regain what was lost. AKEL has always been and will always be on the side of the working people and the class-based trade union federation of PEO.
AKEL is militantly asserting and will continue to assert solutions for the benefit of the working people and society in general by submitting specific and realistic proposals, both inside Parliament and outside in society. We insist on resolutely promoting our proposals to tackle expensiveness and the sharp increase in the cost of living. To confront energy poverty and foreclosures. To enhance labour rights. For the establishment of a comprehensive and effective state housing policy.
We insist on holding the government to account. The previous government constantly provided cover, encouraged and promoted policies that favoured big capital at the expense of the working people. We await the new government’s actions on labour, social and economic issues to judge it.
We have to say that the government’s first signs, namely its mediation on the issue of the COLA, are not positive. We hope that this is not the prelude to anti-labour and anti-social policies. But whatever the content of the government’s policies, we are present in the struggle and will be vigilant in defending the rights of workers and society.
Dear friends,
We will shortly be marching towards the Ledra Palace area in the UN-administered buffer zone to meet with our Turkish Cypriot compatriots. We will once again commemorate together International Workers’ Day, recalling the class, political and social struggles that we have waged together in the past, Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot workers within the ranks of AKEL, PEO and the mass organisations of the Left, namely what we term as the People’s Movement.
Today’s bicommunal meeting, like every bicommunal gathering, is a renewal of our commitment to continue the struggle for a solution to the Cyprus problem. For the solution that will reunite our homeland and people.
A solution that will enable Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots to live together in peace and co-manage their common state within the framework of a bizonal, bicommunal federation with political equality.
A solution that will reunited the strength of Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot working people, who as they did in the past will assert together the rights of their class and together of society as a whole.
This is our vision! This is our goal!
Long live International Workers’ Day!
Long the strength of the working people!

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