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In the Covid era, 'solidarity means standing shoulder to shoulder with poorer nations', says President Higgins

In a video address, he called for carers to be recognised as essential in the post-pandemic world.

ON INTERNATIONAL WORKERS’ Day, Uachtarán na hÉireann Michael D Higgins has called for global solidarity in the fight to distribute Covid-19 vaccines.

In a video address, President Higgins also said that it’s time that carers are recognised as essential workers given their sacrifices during the pandemic.

“The pandemic is a crisis that has tested our authenticity when we speak of mutual solidarity,” he said.

“It has laid bare many of the dire consequences of both existing economic inequalities and widespread inadequacies in social protection that are a great scar on our humanity.”

At the same time, the pandemic has driven home the “importance of community, of care, and of solidarity”, Higgins added.

Those values that have endured, he said, “even when challenged by the most aggressive suggestions of extreme individualism and the insatiable colonisation of market forces that seek to control so much of life”.

On the subject of vaccines, Higgins added, “Traditional markets have acknowledged that they cannot deliver at the scale needed to cover the entire globe.”

In this context, he said that solidarity in the era of Covid must mean “standing shoulder to shoulder with those in other countries, especially poorer nations with fewer financial resources, so that, for example, vaccines are made available, accessible and affordable for all”. 

‘Our definition of work’

Higgins also said that as the economy recovers from Covid over the next year, “our definition of work must change, must evolve and widen to incorporate the important role of caring and carers as essential workers; workers far too long undervalued by society”.

He added that when we come to think of “which parts of the economy have responded with efficiency and energy” to the crisis, “we must think of the example we have experienced” of those engaged in essential work.

Key and frontline workers have demonstrated “how necessary they are to achieve a basic level of existence across society, and maintain it during a time of unprecedented crisis”, the President said.

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“When the Covid-19 pandemic is over and the spotlight has been removed, as happens, let us ensure that we as a society have done everything we can to give their work the recognition it deserves.”

President Higgins said that May Day has always been “one of the great moral days, a day of invitation to envisage collective welfare, and joy too.

“For workers all over the world, it provides an opportunity of celebrating the progress made – acknowledging the tireless efforts, in different circumstances, of workers and trade union activists – on making our workplaces spaces that reflect the dignity of work, and safer places of collective experience.

“On this May Day 2021, let us muster the courage to address with energy and enthusiasm all of these changes,” he said.

“Let us today too never forget the efforts of those worker activists, women and men, who led the demand for democracy at home, in the workplace and in society, and secure the rights we enjoy today.”

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