By Juan Pablo Pardo
Good morning to all. First of all, I want to say that I am very proud to be part of this International Congress, which is truly a historic event. This first Congress that we are putting together is for the first time an event made by workers and for workers. This is very important because we are the ones who lead the discussions on the issues that affect us and how we organize ourselves to face them.
Firstly, throughout these 3 days of debates, there are already some very clear conclusions from this Congress. First, an international identity that runs through us, and that is that the conditions of platform workers are the same worldwide. Platform workers have the same problems worldwide. And having the same exploitation conditions means that we have the same fight. And to have the same fight means that we have to organize ourselves and continue working in events like this and continue to strengthen this international coordination. If companies organize in the same way in all countries to impose their model, workers have to organize internationally to give them a response. We need to build our unions and grow our struggle.
Secondly, as was said yesterday on the panel, these platform work companies are the spearhead, the most advanced in this 21st-century capitalism, which seeks to impose new conditions on workers. They seek to impose a new model of uberization of work worldwide and for increasingly more sectors of workers. Platform companies operate under the same model that is based on denying us our status as workers and denying us all the labor rights that workers have conquered in the last 200 years. Platform workers have no limit on their working hours, no vacation days, sick leave, medical and accident insurance, or retirement contributions. The attack by these companies is enormous and seeks to implement it against the entire working class. The fight we are giving is fundamental to defend these rights.
Internationally, we are suffering from a huge anti-union campaign run by the companies, which has two forms. The first are laws, judicial measures, or other rules that directly seek to express the interests of companies and legislate the uberization model, such as California’s Proposition 22, against which we mobilized during this Congress. The second one, companies are adopting a conscious policy of organizing workers against the struggle for labor rights and labor recognition, organizing workers to say that the “be your own boss” policy, for a person who works more than 60 hours per week, is positive for workers. Companies have a conscious policy to attack our independent organizations. Clear examples are the pro-business associations in Spain and the case of Colombia where Rappi put a lot of money into mobilizing workers against regulation.
Against all these attacks, we have to organize ourselves. But we have a fundamental tool that are our unions, our organizations, and our international coordination. This Congress is a very clear and lively expression of this. We are a lot of people from 17 countries who met here in Los Angeles. With the strength of that unity, we can grow our struggle and form a great global movement against uberization, against this model that seeks to destroy all the rights conquered by workers in the last 200 years. The fighting experiences of one country are reflected in others, with enormous international solidarity, such as yesterday’s beautiful action at the Argentine Consulate. It fills us with strength to know that the world accompanies us in this fight.
Additionally, what we have learned in recent years is how we can become stronger through the experiences of other comrades in different countries. For example, we are very proud that the experience of the Solidarity Stops, the heart of our union, has been able to be transmitted to so many comrades around the world: that there are Stops in Denmark, that Support Points have been established in the United States, in Mexico, and many other places.
That is why this Congress is so important, it is truly historic. We need to strengthen our international organization. We have to be in more countries, have more comrades organizing, and building our unions.
The key to our fight is to strengthen our grassroots work. The organization we are carrying out has a fundamental point, which is to understanding that the way to solve workers’ claims is to be together with each comrade, in the streets, with the involvement of every worker. This was expressed very clearly in this Congress, wich is full of experiences from all around the world where workers are at the forefront of their struggles. That is why this Congress is historic, we need to strengthen our international coordination. We are founding something that has a lot of future and should expand to more countries, more organizations, more workers. Because the fight is immense, but we are hundreds of thousands of workers around the world who can confront these companies.
For that, we have to be clear about our path. From this Congress, we have to come out with a program that clearly expresses our situation, our demands and why we are fighting, and that marks a path of struggle for all platform workers in the world. We have to come out of this Congress resolving how we organize, how we strengthen ourselves, and what actions of struggle we are going to carry out throughout this year, which have to be coordinated actions around the world, which have a huge impact and allow us to demonstrate that these companies will not have anywhere to escape from the workers’ struggle.
Finally, this extraordinary Congress that we are holding has to leave us a legacy of organization. We have to discuss how we are going to continue with this process of international organization and coordination. This first International Congress needs to have continuity, set up new spaces for meetings, coordination of actions, with a group that is constantly seeking to integrate more colleagues, more organizations, more countries. To go to a next congress with double the number of countries, double the number of organizations.
I think we have a historic opportunity, which we have to take advantage of. We are fighting for our future, against these immense attacks by these companies. But, as they said on another panel, we have to be these companies’ nightmare and express in every corner of the world the struggle we give for our rights.
As the slogan of this Congress says, gig workers of the world, unite!