EVERY May 1, we reflect on workers' plight since the fateful day in 1886 when some workers were shot dead in Chicago Hay market for their demand of an 8-hour work day. It is a solemn day when we take stock of where our workers stand in availing themselves of their rights in terms of safety and security at the workplace and a fair wage. Sadly, for the teeming millions of working class people that journey has not been an even one. Even today, discrimination in pay based on gender exists and domestic workers must put up with underpay and violence.
As we mark the first anniversary of the Rana Plaza collapse, the scars of the 1,100 or so dead remain fresh in our collective memory. Workers' rights are not simply limited to the right to be part of a collective bargaining agency, but also have much to do with a safe environment to work in. There has been progress in this area over the past year, but we believe there is much more to be done and time is of the essence. Though the labour laws have been amended paving the way for union formation in the readymade garments (RMG) sector, execution has been slow. And although a wage board was constituted and a minimum wage fixed for RMG workers, implementation remains an issue.
As the world observes May Day as a holiday, for millions of workers across the country ranging from day labourers to transport workers it is just another working day without which there won't be food for the families.