May 1st is celebrated as International Workers’ Day around the world with the aim of highlighting the problems faced by workers and raising their voices to solve those problems. The day commemorates the sacrifices made by workers throughout history and the struggles that workers continue to face today.
Exploitation of workers
Despite progress in some areas, there are still many workers around the world whose rights are not respected. In developing countries, the situation is often worse, with workers not being registered, receiving very low wages, and being exploited under the guise of contract work. Many workers do not receive permanent appointment letters, which means they cannot approach the Labor Court if they are fired without cause. The plight of workers in Pakistan is a clear example of this, despite the protest and effective role of labor unions.
Importance of Labor Day in Pakistan
Pakistan has recognized the importance of Labor Day since 1972 when it was declared a public holiday. However, many workers in Pakistan work 12 to 16 hours without receiving overtime pay. Moreover, small and medium-scale industries in Pakistan are not subject to checks and balances, resulting in increasing numbers of child laborers. Workplace safety is also not up to international standards, and the labor force in Pakistan is not registered with the Employees’ Old Age Benefits Institution (EOBI).
What are the labor issues?
From agricultural workers to small-scale industries, factories, brick kilns, hosiery, textiles, tailoring, handicrafts, manufacturing of various goods, and construction projects, workers in Pakistan face a range of issues. These include health and safety issues, economic problems, sanitation problems, and a lack of enforcement of labor laws. Workers often lack basic facilities at work, and there are no safety measures in place, resulting in many people being injured or killed on the job.
Workers’ expectations from the government
Workers in Pakistan expect the government to take action to address their issues. This includes registering workers and declaring all matters, including salaries and working hours. They also expect the government to enforce labor laws and provide a safe and conducive environment for workers.
International Labor Day origins
International Workers’ Day has its origins in Chicago, United States, where workers demanded eight hours of work and one day off per week in 1886. The workers went on strike when their demands were not met, and during a demonstration, police opened fire, resulting in many workers losing their lives.
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In 1889, the second meeting of the World General Assembly in Paris passed a resolution to remember the French Revolution and declare May 1 as Labor Day at the global level. This resolution was quickly approved, and 80 countries declared a national holiday on May Day or Labor Day. The slogan “The workers of the world are one” became associated with this movement, emphasizing the solidarity of workers around the world.
In conclusion, International Workers’ Day is an important day for workers around the world, as it raises awareness of their struggles and emphasizes the need for action to address their issues. While progress has been made in some areas, there is still much work to be done to ensure that workers receive fair treatment, basic facilities, and safe working conditions.