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Salute To Agricultural Workers' Struggles For Decent Work And Living

The Coalition of Agricultural Workers International (CAWI) joins millions of working people worldwide in commemorating the May 1 International Labor Day. Despite intensifying political repression, we salute agricultural workers' continuing struggle to assert our rights and welfare as productive forces that feed the world and create wealth.

We salute our continuing struggle against the callous exploitation of agricultural workers, who bear the weight of our food supply chains. Our sweat and sacrifice should not be met with meager wages and destitution. In some countries, the daily wage for agricultural workers is less than two US dollars[1], even lower than the official poverty threshold of USD 2.15 per day. We vow to end this system where a few profit massively while our agricultural workers struggle to feed their families.

We salute our continuing struggle against job insecurity, an intolerable injustice. Globally, we comprise more than a quarter of the employed labor force, and an overwhelming majority are contractual, casual, or seasonal. The uncertainty that agricultural laborers face gnaws at our livelihoods, leaving us vulnerable to the whims of profit-driven forces. Labor flexibilization arrangements that deny job security for agricultural workers must be dismantled.

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We salute our continuing struggle against unsafe working environments. Every day, more than 575 agricultural workers die due to occupational hazards. The actual numbers are certainly higher given many cases of unreported or even ignored toxic agrochemical poisoning, prolonged exposure to extreme heat made worse by the climate crisis and El Niño, etc., due to the absence of protective gear, training, and safety protocols. We will continue to demand accountability from governments and corporations for their neglect that endangers the lives of agricultural workers.

We salute our continuing struggle for our right to organize, to form unions, and to bargain collectively. Even in the most advanced capitalist countries like the US, where the rate of unionization is relatively higher than in poor countries, just 11% of agricultural workers belong to a union. The situation is obviously awful in the Global South. The silence imposed upon us by systematic efforts by governments and corporations to block or undermine our efforts to organize and unionize must be shattered. Our unity is our strength; together, we shall reclaim our dignity.

We salute our continuing struggle against unfair labor practices and treatment that agricultural workers suffer based on our gender, ethnicity, or migrant status. The informality of agricultural labor perpetuated by failed development models and government policies makes agricultural workers highly vulnerable to exploitation and gross violation of even the most basic labor rights. It is estimated that 90% of global agriculture jobs are informal. We will persist in our fight to recognize our productive labor and assert our right to decent work and living.

We salute our continuing struggle against landlessness and land grabbing that force many of us into modern slavery and unimaginable oppression and exploitation. A world where 70% of farmlands are owned by only 1% of farms controlled by big corporations and financial firms, plantations, and landlords is untenable. As agricultural workers, we vow to continue our part in building and strengthening people's movements for genuine land reform and rural development.

We will carry on our struggles despite the increasing political repression that we face. In the past seven years, more than 250 farmers and farm workers have been killed by state agents or forces and goons of private corporations, more than 1,200 have been arrested or detained, and more than 450 have been harassed or assaulted in the context of our struggle for the right to land and resources. But these attacks will not deter and cower us. Instead, we will persevere more in asserting the legitimacy of our rights as agricultural workers, including our right to resist.

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