Historic May Day today
Live Correspondent: Today we observe the historic May Day. Since its inception in 1886, for the second consecutive year the world is compelled to mark the international event at a crucial and uncertain year. On May 1, 1886, 10 workers were killed when police opened fire on a demonstration in the US city of Chicago near Hay Market demanding an eight-hour working day instead of a 12-hour shift. On the height of agitation, the authorities had to accept the workers' demand and the eight-hour day has been introduced universally.
However, now that the entire world is gasping for breath under the physical and psychological stress imposed upon individuals, communities and nations - workers everywhere find themselves at a more difficult position more than ever - because of their extreme vulnerability to income erosion. As fate has in store for them, workers and labourers have no savings, live in unhealthy conditions and social distancing at times becomes a luxury for them unless they are helped out of their desperation.
It is right on this point where the government has to come forward with sustainable stimulus packages ensuring their subsistence and welfare. Now the choice is between life and livelihoods. It seems the latter has prevailed at least in case of our RMG workers. That said - let's hope it does not turn out to be too costly.
Moreover, there are daily labourers, menial workers in the informal sector and many others who have lost income on account of the prolonged lockdown.
Even though workers make up the biggest segment of our RMG sector, yet the sector is struggling rights for all workers. The scenario is similar with our millions of expatriate workers abroad - braving overwhelming odds to reach foreign labour markets - only to find that they have been cheated out of a fair wage while facing e terrible human rights violations.
However at the front, the Domestic Workers Protection Welfare Policy 2015 was supposed to end domestic violence against household help but sadly it only exists in papers. The same is more or less representative of other sectors, both formal and informal.
In conclusion, until we learn to respect workers as human beings working in our factories and homes, there can be no meaningful change. Not to forget, we are a nation of laws and we have ratified conventions internationally, yet we remain unwilling to give workers the rights they lawfully deserve. And observing May Day carries little meaning unless we make workers' rights a priority in the national context.
Dhaka, 29 April (campuslive24.com)//AIT