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Living by May Day spirit
Publication Date : 01-05-2012
How far have we come from this day in 1886 USA, when police killed several people after firing on workers demonstrating for the eight-hour workday? Since the riots on this day some years later, since demonstrations for workers' rights every year since then -- how much have things changed?
Well over 100 years later, here in Bangladesh, workers are still having to fight for minimum wages, let alone fixed working hours. This, too, in industries which profit in the billions annually, making significant contributions to the nation's economy.
While the rich get richer and the poor get poorer in times of recession even, the quality of life of the working class has improved very little. While our leaders are busy with their high-sounding speeches in parliament and destructive activities out on the street, the people on whose labour our economy, our growth as a nation is based, sweat away in their suffocating work environments during the day, only to return to their homes in the slums teeming with undernourished, uneducated children, at night.
The trade unions which should be fighting for workers' rights are also often divided along political lines and rival companies, thus cutting short organised movements for workers' rights even before they begin. It is unfortunate but true that against an increasingly capitalist, materialistic and politicised society where vested quarters put their own selfish interests above everything, the working class must come together and stand on their own strength in the battle for rights. This May Day, our commitment towards workers', indeed human solidarity must be renewed. In a shift from our regular politics, fight the greed and corruption of a miniscule minority, breaking down the system of exploitation and growing inequality between the classes, towards a rights-based society for all. Respect workers and their work.