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May Day: Uphold the rights of the workers

The lives and livelihoods of billions of working people around the world have fallen into deep uncertainty due to Covid-19 epidemic. According to the ILO, the lives and livelihoods of 160 crore workers worldwide are under threat at this time. This number of workers is about half of the world's total workforce.
Majhar Mannan
May Day: Uphold the rights of the workers

The whole world today is in the grip of the Covid-19 pandemic. Millions of workers around the world have lost their jobs due to the horrific Covid-19 and constant lockdowns.

Every year on May 1, workers around the world celebrate International Workers' Day with a desire to be free from exploitation and deprivation. Every year the workers of the world celebrate this day in a casual atmosphere by bringing out procession in the streets but this year they may not be able to do so because of the corona pandemic. On May 1, 1986, workers in the city of Chicago, USA, shed their blood to demand eight hours of work every day.
May Day is a memorable chapter in the history of the labour movement and the day symbolizes the establishment of workers' rights through the self-sacrifice of hardworking workers. This day reminds us of the uncompromising struggle of the workers and at the same time it is a day of great festival for them. This is the day when workers' rights are liberated from the scourge of capitalism and at the same time the promise to eradicate classism and break the chains of slavery of capitalism through social change. This day is an invigorating symbol for the unification of all the workers of the world and the importance of this day in establishing socialism cannot be denied.
The May Day movement was instrumental in building the foundations of a society free of exploitation, and at the same time it marked the beginning of a change in the working class of the world. May Day is called the Certificate of Liberation of Workers from Capitalist Slavery.
Some of the rights of the workers were established through that revolution of the workers but the full rights of the workers have not been established even today. Through movement and struggle, workers have been able to establish some of their rights and dreams, but they are still neglected and deprived of basic human rights. May Day is a great source of inspiration for workers around the world to move forward. May Day education builds solidarity and unity among workers while at the same time inspiring them to protest against exploitation. Since May Day, workers in many parts of the world have established their rights, such as suitable environment of workplace, benefits and salary allowances.  Globalization and capitalism are interrelated and both have played a significant role in increasing global economic dynamism and prosperity over the past two decades, but at the same time they have increased inequality and deprivation.

The lives and livelihoods of billions of working people around the world have fallen into deep uncertainty due to Covid-19 epidemic. According to the ILO, the lives and livelihoods of 160 crore workers worldwide are under threat due to the pandemic and lockdowns. This number of workers is about half of the world's total workforce. A lot of workers around the world have lost their jobs and are living miserable lives, and these working people have to stay home, which is really worrying. Workers must be protected from the Covid-19 epidemic on the one hand and the wheel of the world economy must be kept active on the other by keeping them employed.

Workers in Bangladesh, especially the garment industry, the shipbuilding industry, the construction industry, and other non government sectors, the millions of workers do not receive their fair wages and are deprived of their various rights. Workers' rights are still limited to paper and pen, but in reality workers do not really enjoy their full rights. It is time to restore their rights. The basic needs of the workers are neglected due to the employer-worker conflict. Workers are often injured or killed in accidents at workplace but they are deprived of adequate compensation.

Many workers were killed and injured in accidents at several garment factories, including Rana Plaza and Tazreen, but the families of those workers have not received sufficient compensation or proper justice. However, due to various initiatives of the government of Bangladesh, the number of child laborers has increased a lot in the last few years and at the same time the benefits of other workers have increased a lot. Migrant workers play a vital role in the economic development of the country and are called remittance fighters but their rights are often neglected. Workers are the economic driving force of a country and they are involved in production so real development is never possible ignoring their welfare. The number of agricultural workers in Bangladesh is about 2 crore 33 lakh , the number of hotel-restaurant and shop workers is about 82 lakh, the number of factory workers is 75 lakh and the number of transport workers is 70 lakh. Lockdown is continuing across the country due to Covid-19 and transport workers are suffering the most due to this lockdown as 80 to 90 percent of transport workers work on daily contract basis.

We have a lot of women workers in our country and they still have to cope with various adverse environments to survive in the workplace.  Women and child labourers are seen in a variety of hazardous jobs, and the situation of migrant women workers abroad is even direr, especially in the Middle East. Migrant women workers send large amounts of remittances to the country and contribute to the economy, but these women migrant workers are regularly subjected to various forms of sexual harassment and abuse. The safety of women workers in the workplace is still neglected and about 9 lakh migrant women workers are contributing to the economic development of the country but their safety has not been ensured yet.

There are about 6 crore workers in Bangladesh in total and the main problem of these workers is that they are victims of harassment, often go missing and die in accidents. Fish workers are often the victims of naval accidents at sea and are not provided with adequate equipment, life jackets or radio connections. Many transport workers die in road accidents. Many times construction workers fall and die while working in high-rise buildings. Many agricultural workers die due to thunderbolt at the time of working in the field. Many factory workers died due to fire in the factory. Workers are killed in different accidents at different times but the families of those workers do not get proper compensation or assistance. However, due to various good measures taken by the government, the death rate of workers has come down and the condition of the workers of Bangladesh has improved a lot compared to before. However, women workers still have to work through a variety of adversities, even they cannot enjoy maternity leave properly. There is a lack of adequate day care centres and restrooms for women workers in the workplace. According to a survey, about 84% of female workers are victims of verbal harassment, 71% are victims of mental abuse and about 13% are victims of various forms of physical harassment.   Although workers are scheduled to work eight hours a day, they are often forced to work 10 to 12 hours in violation of labour laws.

However, the safety of workers in all sectors should be given the highest priority and at the same time we need to ensure their livelihood during this pandemic. Although the working class is the majority, they are still weak and exploited due to profit and wage disputes. Far from modernizing the quality of life, they still have to take to the streets to demand regular payment of salaries and allowances. Now it is high time to realize the significance of May Day and uphold the basic needs and interests of the workers.

The writer is Assistant Professor, B A F Shaheen College Kurmitola, Dhaka Cantonment.

 

 

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Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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