Labor Day and Us

Zulfiqar Ali

Pakistan, like many other countries, celebrate labor day on May first to express solidarity and empathy with the workers. On this day social activists, the worker unions and many non-governmental and governmental organization working to alleviate the plight of the poverty stricken and oppressed segment of the society, which unfortunately is a large chunk of the population of Pakistan, come together to demand end of their miseries. The day is observed across the globe because the worker don’t enjoy the rights they are entitled to, or rather their rights are not allowed by the authoritarian regimes.

On this day the workers organize rallies, marches, processions and street demonstration hanging placards with the images of mainly hammers and sickles.

The working class in Pakistan has not been getting its due rights since liberation from the colonial rule. The long history of oppression is evident in how they are mistreated and how much coercion they bear daily.

Pakistan passed her first labor policy in 1972 and became a member of ILO (International Labor Organization), an  international organization working with governments and worker unions across the world  to ensure the social protection of workers’ rights. The origin of this day dates back to the movement of labor unions which aimed to fix the working hours to eight hours for a reasonable minimum wage. The day also commemorates the labourers and activists, the martyrs of Chicago, who were killed during this struggle.

Unfortunately, the workers in Pakistan are faced with a multitude of problems; many are bonded labors. They are treated like they do not have any stake in the society. Every day they face life-threatening challenges and in most of the rural parts of Pakistan they are literally enslaved, i.e. forced to work without getting due wages. Most of the employers don’t care for the minimum wage fixed by the government. In private schools across the country, and several leading NGOs, teachers and workers are paid as less as 5,000 rupees a month, which is peanuts in these circumstances. There are a lot of people in our country who work from dawn to dusk so that their progeny would not get into the slavery like they themselves are in. They imagine a bright future for their children and hope that one day they will  proud parents of an admired child like this has happened in many developed nations.

There has never been any society where workers are not being suppressed  but this class struggle has come to forefront more now than it had ever had. Many important figures like Karl Marx, Engels,and many more wrote volumes against the wrongs being done by the bourgeoisie to control and ruin the lives of proletarians.  They prophesied that one day the working class will stand up for its rights and dominate the elite class, there will be a revolution of proletariat which is inevitable.

Today, everyone seems to be blaming the governments for whatever pain the working class is going through but no one dares to comment that the government at present is the manifestation of the mindset of the people of the time and we ourselves are responsible for this disproportion. If we, on individual level, ward off the kind of mentality we are harboring, avoid the blame game and value everyone on the grounds of merit in the true sense, then the utopian and prosperous society is not a fantasy but rather a dream come true.

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