International Workers’ Day on May 1, also known as Labour Day or May Day, is a day to remember the achievements of the working class and to recognize the struggles and sacrifices of workers throughout history.
May Day is all about anti-capitalist struggle, solidarity and socialism. This day reminds us that whatever the trade union movement and workers have achieved in the form of labour, economic, political and democratic rights is the result of decades of struggle and sacrifice.
Workers across the world pay rich tribute to the great sacrifice made by the Chicago workers in their struggle for an eight-hour working day on May 4, 1886. These American workers sacrificed their lives for the working-class cause. The police used brute force to suppress a peaceful movement of the workers for their just cause. Many labour activists were killed, the American capitalist class using heavy-handed tactics to suppress the working-class movement.
The working class has achieved the eight-hour working day, social security net, free health and education and other rights through its struggles. May Day is the occasion to honour the contributions of the working class and to recognize the importance of its labour in the development of our society.
The day also serves to remind us of the need for continued vigilance in ensuring that the working class is treated fairly and has the right to work in safe and secure conditions. It is a day to celebrate the spirit of solidarity among workers and to raise awareness of the need for global solidarity in defending the rights of workers around the world.
Many rights that were won by the labouring class in the 1950s, 60s and 70s are now under attack. Ruling classes around the world are constantly trying to take back many economic and labour rights. We have witnessed a mass movement of working-class people in France. Different sections of the British working class have been forced to organize strikes for wage increase. Workers are facing economic hardships globally. The cost-of-living crisis has hit them hard.
During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, May Day was a major event for labour activists and socialists, who used the day to promote their cause and to remember the struggles of the working class. In 1889, the International Socialist Conference declared that May 1 should be dedicated to workers’ rights and organized labour, and it soon became a popular event for socialists and labour activists throughout Europe. On May 1, 1890 millions of workers around the world gathered to celebrate the holiday and demand better working conditions.
Since then, on every May 1 people around the world come together to celebrate the achievements of the labour movement and to advocate for better working conditions, decent wages, decent jobs and economic justice for all. It is a day that reminds us of the need for collective action and solidarity to ensure that worker’s rights and interests are protected.
The exploitation of workers has increased since the collapse of the Soviet Union. The organized labour movement is facing several challenges including neoliberal onslaught, automation, and artificial intelligence, decreasing membership, anti-union laws, pro-business labour laws, privatization, and outsourcing. Inequality is rising at a fast pace due to low wages.
Neoliberalism is an economic ideology that emphasizes the importance of free markets and limited government intervention in the economy. It is associated with laissez-faire policies, privatization, deregulation, and lower taxes. Neoliberalism has been embraced by many governments in recent decades, and this has led to a significant reduction in labour laws and regulations.
For example, many countries in Asia, Europe, Latin America and Africa have relaxed labour laws and regulations that protected workers in the past, such as laws that set minimum wages, limit the hours of work, and provide protections against arbitrary termination. This has led to an increase in flexible labour laws, making it easier for businesses to hire and fire workers, reduce wages, and otherwise adjust the conditions of their employment.
One of the main challenges facing the trade union movement today is a decline in membership numbers. As more and more people become self-employed or work in the gig economy, they are less likely to join a union. This has had a major impact on the ability of unions to represent workers’ rights in the workplace.
The rise of right-wing populist leaders and neoliberal onslaught has had a major impact on the trade union movement. Many governments have passed laws that restrict the ability of unions to organize and strike. This has weakened their influence and bargaining power.
Globalization too has had a major impact on the labour market. As companies move production to low-cost countries, jobs are lost in the unionized sectors. This has weakened the power of unions in most countries.
Technological change has also had an impact on the labour market. Automation and Artificial Intelligence are replacing jobs in many sectors, which is leading to job losses and decreased union membership.
The Technological Revolution has had a huge impact on the working conditions of the working class. While the increased use of technology has brought many advantages, such as increased productivity and efficiency, it has also had a major impact on the conditions of the working class. Technology has allowed companies to automate many tasks, reducing the need for manual labor and reducing the number of jobs available for workers. This has led to a decrease in wages and job security for many workers, as well as a decrease in benefits and other protections.
The writer is a freelance journalist.