International Workers’ Day, also known as Labour’s Day or May Day in some places. It is celebrated around the world including Pakistan to express solidarity with workers and laborers. Labourers who are the backbone of our society, and without any doubt I can say that our nation’s progress cannot be achieved until we enlighten and reform our working class. This year again, the first of May marked the lives of the working class with great zeal and zest, as it symbolizes their hard work and hope for better socio-economic outcome.
Labour Day, right now when I am sitting in my home resting because today is the labour day! But sadly I know that right now when I’m resting due to labour day some people are still working just to fill the gap of their need of Food. This is how we are celebrating labour day, a big question mark that how we are giving respect to those who are like a running blood in the veins of the industries and technical divisions of Pakistan, “The Labours”.
A large number of labours in our country are daily wagers, for them on holidays, on strikes, even on celebrations like Eid and finally “labour day”, means nothing but hunger for the several upcoming days. The daily wagers, who are living hand to mouth, earning and spending each day, following their lean earning mode, a day off means no income for that day and hunger for the coming day, this is how we are helping our labours. Think!
It’s a is the day which marks the struggle of a worker to earn the right to work for an eight hour working routine with weekly holidays because previously the workers were forced to follow the unlimited working hours routine without any weekly holidays which was considered as cruelty but somewhere in Pakistan, labourers still work without any holiday. I met different people from the working class. They had diverse backgrounds and earned as little as 300 Rupees per day individually or sometime even less than 300 Rupees.
Can you imagine how it feels to clean roads early in the morning on a cold winter’s day for the sweeper? Or sweating under the scorching sun in the summer? It is not only the sweepers but also the working class labourers who work in drastic and horrible working conditions. Sadly, they are not even compensated for half of the work they do. While talking about workplace conditions, we must not forget the Baldia Town fire incident in 2012. The lack of safety measures took the lives of 300 labourers. I must sound so naive ranting about minimum wage, when we fail to provide basic and rightful safety measures to our workers.
There are various issues that need be addressed and solved in order to provide a decent life worth living for our labourers. But the problem is who will address these issues seriously without seeking benefits for themselves.
Today, labor organisation and leaders, various human rights activists will be celebrating labor day, yet they will be doing this in the form of seminars, speeches, and exhibitions but no one will be able to leave the air conditioned seminar hall and go outside in the severe high temperature of 1st May, to experience how the labor is suffering and still working on their day. However holding conferences seminars, speeches, and exhibitions are the only thing we see once a year. The matters which are being discussed in those conferences, the problems of labour and how to end those problems are mere talks every year with no practical work done to actually tackle the problems and improve the situation.
What is the working class labourer getting out of all these celebrations? What benefits are they receiving from seminar and conferences? I apologise if someone is offended by my statement but the so-called social workers have fallen short of providing any ease or facility to the working class population of our country. All they can do is organise seminars and conferences which promote their respective organisation and add value to their PR.
The lower income working class is a direct sufferer of the uncontrollable sky-rocketing price hike which is driving them into a poverty trap and starvation. The prices of food items and daily commodities are increasing exorbitantly; basic things like flour, rice, vegetables, and pulses are out of the poor man’s reach. Workers are committing suicide because they don’t get paid enough and the inflation keeps rising. No proper medical treatment, no limited work hours and no proper education available for his kids are few of the many problems which are being faced by the labourers in Pakistan along with less payment with more work.
I can’t help but wonder about the impact of Labour Day on labourers living in Pakistan. If the government cannot do this, the least we can do is tip our labourers lavishly as this is the only luxury they can ever hope for. Indeed, we must always remember what Islam has taught us,
“Give the laborer his wage before his sweat dries” – Holy prophet (S.A.W)
Lets celebrate this day by doing something that will actually be a decent tribute to our labourers.