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International labour day: History and Significance

Syed Umarullah HussainiWeb Editor

01st May, 2020. 11:55 am
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International labour day

Pakistan with the rest of the world is celebrating international labour day amid the coronavirus lockdown to appreciate the effort of workers.

This Day is observed each year on the first day of May to celebrate achievements of the working class. The day, also called as ‘May Day’, is also observed as a public holiday in many countries.

History of Labour Day

The first May Day celebrations focused on workers took place on May 1st 1890 after its proclamation by the first international congress of socialist parties in Europe on July 14th 1889 in Paris, France, to dedicate May 1 every year as the “Workers Day of International Unity and Solidarity.”

The date was chosen due to events on the other side of the Atlantic. In 1884 the American Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions demanded an eight-hour workday, to come in effect as of May 1st 1886. This resulted in the general strike and the Haymarket (in Chicago) Riot of 1886, but eventually also in the official sanction of the eight-hour workday.

What is the Significance of Labour Day

Labour day has its origins in the labour union movement, particularly the eight-hour day movement, which supports eight hours for work, eight hours for recreation, and eight hours for rest. May Day has long been a crucial point for demonstrations by various socialist, communist and anarchist groups. It has been an important official holiday in countries such as the People’s Republic of China, North Korea, Cuba, and the former Soviet Union. This Day’s celebrations typically feature elaborate popular and military parades in these countries. During the Cold War, May Day became intermittent for large military parades in Red Square by the Soviet Union and was attended by the top leaders of the Kremlin, especially the Politburo, atop Lenin’s Tomb. It became an enduring symbol of that period.

Labour Day in Pakistan

Prime Minister Imran Khan and President Dr Arif Alvi, in their messages on the occasion of International Labour Day have recalled the commitment for the protection of rights and welfare of the workers.

Prime Minister Imran Khan expressed his government’s commitment to improve the working and living conditions of workers and to supplement their welfare by providing better housing, education facilities and health cover for them and their families. He said our religion has also emphasized the principles of social justice and respect for rights of people.

The Prime Minister said that as workers’ role is pivotal for economic development of any country, his government is committed to ensure that benefits of economic progress translated into prosperity of all sections of the populations including workers.

However, the President of Pakistan in his message paid rich tribute to the valiant and heroic struggle of the workers for their fundamental rights. He said this day is not only a reminder of the struggle of workers but also an acknowledgement of their contribution towards national growth and progress.

The President said Ehsaas Emergency Cash Relief Program has been launched to provide immediate relief to the deserving class in the country.

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