May Day: a symbol of struggle for equality
MAY Day is an annual occasion, especially for the working class, to renewing their pledges against all odds, dissimilarities in wages and exploitation by the employers and the affluent sections of society. It is also the symbol of struggle for equality and justice in society, and institutionalising workers’ rights. The day is observed across the globe, with a view to establishing workers’ rights. On May 1 in 1886, hundreds of workers demonstrated at Hay Market in Chicago to press home their demand for an eight-hour working day. Several workers were killed by the police during the demonstration.
This year marks the 126th anniversary of the Haymarket incident which in turn inspired the designation of May 1 as International Workers’ Day. May Day does not merely speak of the sacrifices of workers more than a century before, it also calls for improving the quality of life. In a world where many economies are growing by leaps and bounds, and the quality of life increases, we are still falling behind.
The irony of May Day is that few labourers in Bangladesh, or anywhere else in this subcontinent for that matter, have any knowledge about this day. It is not surprising that some vested quarters would try to hide the true history of May Day. In case of Bangladesh this is a harsh reality as most of the labourers are illiterate and some of them are quite unconscious of their minimum rights. Some of them live hand to mouth and are scared of being fired from job every moment. They seldom get their due wages.
Newly recruited labourers are often oppressed by superiors within their groups, too. In any case, the struggling low-paid menial workers are the worst sufferer, as they do not have any other way but to work hard under pressure. With the passing of time, workers in the countries like Bangladesh are gradually becoming aware of their rights. They have taken their lesson from past exploitations and have realised the present complex situation of the job place, competition and the anomalies in the wages.
Over the years, but with the growth of industries, increase in exports, new concepts and development in products have speeded up economic progress. The growth and expansion of readymade garments have added essence to the economy. But still, there remains the question of workers’ safety, hygiene and the job place security. So far such progress in the economy has not been reflected in the working classes. For example, hundreds of workers in the Hazaribagh tannery area work in subhuman conditions. The machines and operations in the most of those tannery industries are primitive. Many workers face accidents and get sick by toxicity. The very fact that tens of thousands of our citizens are compelled to seek low-paying, tiresome jobs in foreign countries is a clear hint of where we might have stumbled in promoting a society of equality.
On this august occasion, let us renew our pledges for establishing the rights of the workers.
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