World Federation of Trade Unions

8 March 1857 – 8 March 2022: 165 years later 165 years ago, when the women workers in the New York textile mills, on March 8, 1857, went on strike and demonstrated for “ten-hour work, bright and sanitary workrooms, wages equal to those of male textile workers and tailors”, they certainly did not imagine that in 2022 all these demands would still be demanded. 165 years ago, they certainly did not imagine that in 2022, with such advances in science and technology, in the conditions of the so-called 4th Industrial Revolution, women’s work would lead to flexible work hours, with split schedule and irregular working hours, underemployment, employment even during maternity leave thanks to teleworking and the development of computing. 165 years ago, striking workers could not have imagined that underage girls and boys would still be victims of sexual harassment, with decision-makers and politicians “shuddering” in horror at the revelations of the “me too” movement, while often being themselves involved in such scandals. 165 years ago, these workers who fought hard against the police forces for a better life for themselves and their children, could not have imagined that in 2022 a pandemic would “expose” this socio-economic system called capitalism worldwide, since the commercialization of health left all public health systems without supplies, without personnel, without ICUs, without equipment, resulting in millions of people around the world dying from a disease that, based on the progress of medicine, could have been treated. And certainly 165 years ago, no one would have imagined that in 2022, people would start to fear the light instead of the dark, since the cost of electricity is now determined on the stock exchange and no popular house can afford the huge increase in its price. 165 years ago also, New York weavers could not have imagined that in the 21st century, after two bloody world wars that preceded and cost the lives of millions of people and destroyed half the planet, the imperialists of the earth would once again forge the borders of countries to control their resources, ravaging the peoples of every place they invade, leaving behind dead, wounded, refugees and untold misery. The women workers of 1857 may not have imagined all this, but they knew when they went on strike that they were up against cruel employers, supported by the political system, whose aim was to exploit their labour power to the full. Perhaps these workers were not very clear in their minds what the cause of their inequality was, but they had the grit  to stand up and demand the obvious. It is this grit that we honour today, this courage that these women had in not allowing their social slavery to become a habit. 165 years later, we remember and honour their struggle and their sacrifice and continue where they left off. The World Trade Union Federation and the world class movement are well aware of the root cause of women’s inequality, of the double oppression they suffer both because of their gender and because of their class, of the rotten values that affect the attitudes and consciousness of women and men. It is capitalism, a socio-economic system based on the exploitation of labour power for the profit of the monopolies and capitalists, not for the welfare of the many. 165 years later, we have both experience and knowledge. We are fed up with promises, with theories and rhetoric, with politicians and trade unionists presenting us a reversed reality to convince us that there is no alternative, that this system only exists and we have to improve it but…

Read full article on World Federation of Trade Unions:
WFTU Statement on Working Women’s Day