MAY 1: The day of workers’ Unity and Struggle
Despite COVID 19 pandemic, the clarion call of “workers of the world unite!” is still inspiring workers all over the world
The historic May Day, the International Day for solidarity and unity of the working class will be celebrated all across the world on 1st of May despite the challenges imposed by the COVID 19 pandemic. However a trend has been immerging in the working people movement to celebrate it as a ritual ignoring its revolutionary content. Glorifying the sacrifice of Haymarket Martyrs in words but not taking concrete steps to strengthen the movement against the oppressors is defeating the purpose of the May Day celebrations.
Despite COVID 19 pandemic, the clarion call of “Workers of the world unite!” is still inspiring millions of workers all over the world in taking pledge to strengthen the struggle against global capitalism’s effort to execute new system of repression on the working people of all countries. May Day continues to carry forward the best traditions of global working class movement. The growing dissatisfaction and resentment against the impact of the neoliberal rule is mirrored in the growing surge of struggles the world over. Overwhelmed in severe continuing crisis, the neo-liberal order have become more desperate and violent in passing on the entire problem of crisis on the working people through more strong and dreadful assaults on their rights and living. Working people all over the world is engaged in bitter combats against such assaults. The entire world has been reverberating with radical strikes and mobilisations with the participation of hundreds of thousands of workers across Europe, the USA, Asia, Arica and Latin America. More and more people are raising their voice against the most offensive disparity and inequality imposed on them.
The origin of May Day is inseparably bound up with the struggle for the shorter workday – a demand of major political significance for the working people. This struggle is marked almost from the beginning of the factory system in the United States. Although the demand for higher wages appears to be the most prevalent cause for the early strikes in this country, the question of shorter hours and the right to organize were always kept in the forefront when workers expressed their demands against the superiors and the regime. As exploitation was becoming deepened and labours were feeling more and more the strain of pitilessly long working hours, the demand for a substantial lessening of hours became more obvious.
On May 1, 1886, hundreds of thousands of North American workers organised to strike. In Chicago, the protest spilled over into support for workers at a major farm-implements factory who‘d been locked out for union activities. On May 3, during a pitched clash between activists and scabs, police shot two labours. At a protest march in Haymarket Square the following day, a bomb was thrown into the police ranks and police directed their fire arbitrarily at the gathering. Eight anarchist leaders were detained, tried and sentenced to death (three were later pardoned). These events triggered international protests, and in 1889, the first congress of the new socialist parties associated with the Second International (the successor to the First International organized by Karl Marx in the 1860s) called on workers everywhere to join in an annual one-day strike on May 1 – not so much to demand specific reforms as an annual demonstration of labour solidarity and working-class power. May Day was both a product of, and an element in, the rapid growth of new mass working-class parties of Europe – which soon forced official recognition by employers and governments of this “workers’ holiday.”
We are fully conscious of the fact that the current free market policy is only making the lives of the common people miserable; it is bringing out a severe distortion in the entire economy, polity and society at large. These policies are being projected for expansion of corporate profits and privatisation of public goods; not for the wellbeing of the societies. Under the regime, corruption has become institutionalised with unprecedentedly huge amounts of public money being siphoned off into the pockets of the national and multinational corporates. Public wealth is being blatantly shifted to private coffers. Side by side, the tax-evaders, the frauds, the cheats, the criminals enjoy all the goodies - they are “feeling good” and trying to convince the rest of India to feel good through a barrage of propaganda. The continuing price-rise of essential commodities, the menacing rise in unemployment, the inaccessibility of basic services like health, education, housing, etc to vast sections of the people—all due to the politics and policies. People resistance is being met with state coercion. The working class must loudly voice their for pro-people alternative policies. Unity and struggle are the weapons in their contest against oppression and exploitation.
The whole working people should be alert against any challenges to divide them and disrupt unity in whatever name – religion, ethnic, community, language, territory or gender. May Day 2020 has one unified call all over the world – “We want jobs for all”, “A decent living for all” which the free market regime can never deliver. Hence the mantra for a new world. The objective of the message will be more than rewarded if the memory of the great sacrifices of Chicago is propagated in the coming era. This is what we should commit to on this May Day. Long Live the Spirit of May Day!