Love Thy Labor…

“There are two kinds of people, those who do the work and those who take the credit. Try to be in the first group; there is less competition there.

— Author: Thomas Fuller

From dawn till dusk on the first day of May, each year world humanitarian Aid Agencies, labour organizations, so called dummies in the name of labour supporting institutions and yes of course to gain the ultimate yet immediate popularity affluent donor class pays tribute to much forgotten productive class of society id est labour on “Labour Day or May Day. Notwithstanding, nothing has changed except the days, as majority of labour till this day are muscling to get their prior package of labour rights hence live below the poverty line.

In reality it is an idée fixe approach towards the socio-economic, cultural & conventional political development of the labour class, however if we cogitate or rather compare bygone to present Labour Day, insignificant changes with less practical cum progressive approach has been delivered throughout the year. Furthermore, with the advent of Trade Unions across the globe, each year on May 1, collective interest of working class becomes alive and kicking.

Albeit in the light of practical approach, who ever work for the sake of economic gain or to earn respectable vis-à-vis rewarding livelihood comes under labour class, yet the dichotomist scenario is contrary to this authentic philosophy of labour, as today labor is not even divided according to his/her ability or efficiency in terms of literacy and skill but is greatly denied by his/her right of earning in respectfully cum reasonably favorable environment specially in case of under-developed economies where resources are abundant yet reward is next to none in which socio-economically stuck alienated labour class works rigorously to run their livelihood.

The history of Labour Day dates back to last century when due to laborious working scenario, in early and mid 1860s general campaign as well as annual processions came on surface, though were restricted in early stage yet quite achievable enough to gain considerable momentum in recognizing legal um logical working hours.

On September 5, 1882 in New York City the Knight of Labour in the US organized a parade and originated the American Labour Day. To make it an annual event Knights passed a resolution in 1884 but Int. Workingmen’s Association favored May 1 as holiday.

Demonstrating on working hours on May 1, 1886, May Day became officially entrenched in US, on the other hand five people were executed in Chicago Haymarket riots on trumped up charges that further highlighted workers right to fight in lieu of gaining their basic fundamental rights. After Chicago riots in 1886 President Grover Cleveland supports Knight of Labour date for annual day. At initial level of struggle many workers faced hardship in turn of gaining significant improvement with the help of emerging unions by 1888.

For the sake of achieving common cause, first time in 1890 workers solidarity resulted in the Labour Day March opened to all workers and providing them a common platform. The initial linking in Queensland of Labour Day with May Day occurred in the outback Queensland town of Barcaldine on 1 May 1891 when striking bush workers marched through the streets. The Brisbane celebration was moved to May in 1893 and this date was soon set aside for the annual event throughout Queensland.

From the period of 1916 when Queensland workers won an 8-hour working day, to this day the theme of objective have been changed. As now trade unions focus on broader horizons in terms of social, industrial and political issues.

Not all the country’s initially supported the date of May 1 but today majority of the countries celebrate this day as International Labour Day. On 1894 in Canada the government of Prime Minister John Thompson adopted this date. Al so in Europe May 1 is Labour Day, and in 1933 in Germany this day was established as an official holiday. In Australia, Labour Day is the first Monday in October in the Australian Capital Territory, New Soth Wales and South Australia. In the Northern Territory it is called May Day but occurs on May 5. In Victoria it is the second Monday in March, and March 1 in both Western Australia and Tasmania. In Queensland Labour Day is held on the first Monday in May. In New Zealand, Labour Day is a public holiday held on the 4th Monday in October. As on 28 October 1890, the fiftieth anniversary of the 8 hour day was commemorated with a parade. The event was then celebrated annually in late October as either Labour Day or Eight-Hour Demonstration Day. In 1899 government legislated that the day be a public holiday from 1900. The day was celebrated on different days in different provinces.

Each year on this day numerous vows & promises plans and policy measures are made to execute the basic provisions of the labour class depicted in the global constitutional body. However with the lack of funding facility, developing modus operandi, and lack of public and private supporting mechanism major plans remain stuck in the pipeline.

Globally, millions of peoples are mainly related to labour force, few get the elvated positions due their literate cum professioanl skills and opportunites but maority is connected either with land cultivation or agri-based induetarial zones and remaining working force do odd jobs to go along with the life.

Besides facing the problems of working hours, dilapedated conditions, low wage rate unsuitable jobs, physical & verbal harrasment by the higher authorities, bonded labours and job insecurity, number of other labour related problems are increasing including cases of child labours, labour immobility within or outside borders, women labour traficking, labour misuse & abuse are few yet greater phenomenon of workiong class.

Take the case of Pakistan where out of 140 million of total population the labour force is estimated to be around 40 million. In the constitution of pakistan Article 11 of chapter XI clearly mentioned conditions for working womens cotrary to the status quo where neither health nor safety is assured for women workers. According to the Constitution, labour is a ‘concurrent subject’ i.e. it is the responsibility both of the federal and provincial governments. Labour legislation is usually enacted at the federal level, but the responsibility for enforcing it falls on the provinces. The labour regime in Pakistan is founded on 42 laws (Annex). Law recognizes on a plant or establishment basis rather than on an industry wide basis trade unions. In my opinion there is nothing wrong with the constitutional provisions of any nation that secures labour’s basic rights but fault lies in its delayed yet incomplete implementation that need to be resolved only if the existing plenipotentiaries take the responsibility of its thorough execution.

Today entire world is facing lows & highs with regard to labour force. Few powerful yet prudent independent official or semi-official donor agencies, UN organizations and NGOs are active enough to protect workers rights; still in some nations labour is experiencing ipso facto humiliation from ages.

It seems for labour literacy, hazard free healthy environment, manual technical advancements, and share in politics or policy measures is far from reality or rather theoretical approach to deliver.

Basically politicizing labour factors is the main hurdle in the development of labour class, besides a sin qua none formula in which each party with in or outside public or private body considers labour class as blank check to cash whenever or wherever public support is needed. And ironically labour society do believes on these easy to load maneuverable tactics or chemin de fer to play with the most backward but highly desired class of labour.

Now the million dollar question is why not the uplifting features of labour society has practically adopted to remove the stumbling blocks from labour advancements that exasperates the entire economic lobby as well socio silhouette of the nations.

As in the words of Thomas Carlyle “And yet without labour there were no ease, no rest, so much as conceivable.” There is no denial that labour class is the prime contributor in the nation and global economy. From agriculture to industrial zones their reward over rough hard work remain unchanged or less feasible as compare to their add infinitum perceptive emotional sufferings.

It is a fact that whenever issues linked with financial or social development arises, illogically we drag government in to the main stream while leaving our own equal responsibilities aside. However one should be prudent that not just govt. but private sectors or NGOs can play vital role towards the uplifting of labour class. Even though from the past few years wake up call for the betterment of the most dilapidated labour class is elevated as prime agenda yet we need more practical approach in this regard. However I am optimistic that once we start considers labour rights as human rights and will pay heed to their utmost priorities, we’ll gain the maximum accuracy as sine qua non motive to achieve labour manifesto.

William Ellery Channing once depicted that “Labour is discovered to be grand conqueror, enriching and building up nations more surely than the proudest battles.” While realizing this ultimate reality, I believe besides dedicating few hours of a day, opinions, books and seminars that can make a difference still there’s a dire need of actions than words to reducing the gap between have and have not. Hence certain laws rules and regulation though are on card but that desire should be expeditiously delivered on time so that deprivation can be eliminate while increasing or ensuring economic indicators at large. The prime responsibility of the government vis-à-vis private channels for spreading awareness for developing deprived class of labour certain measures are must to adopt in this regard.

To some extent labour society is lacking protagonist will. But with the increase in awareness raising channels of communication, I am hopeful that next International Labour Day will be more progressive, well achieved and more successful than this year. According to Sophocles “Without labor nothing prospers,” hence without labour participation, promotion and progression there’ll be less prevalence or absolute absentia especially in terms of ultimate economic peace and prosperity. After all labour insecurity is nations’ economic insecurity thus economies may face socio-political uncertain climate but would never afford economic deficiency mobilized by labour efficiency.