By ALDWIN QUITASOL
Workers of the world, awaken!
Rise in all your splendid might
Take the wealth that you are making,
It belongs to you by right.
No one will for bread be crying
We’ll have freedom, love and health,
When the grand red flag is flying
In the Workers’ Commonwealth. — Joe Hill
International Labor Day. A historic day where workers on May 1, 1886 staged a general strike to legitimize the eight hour work day. It began actually as a commemoration of the Hay market massacre in Chicago, United States of America where several workers were killed after the police began dispersing them. Then May 1, 1890, was organized as the observance of the international day of the workers world wide.
It was originally known as May Day as it was a tribute to the fallen workers in the struggle for labor rights and welfare. This day served as a venue for all workers to further advance the struggle to break the chains of slavery to the capitalist system.
In 1903, the May 1 celebration started in the Philippines while under the colonial rule of U.S. The first Labor day mass activity was a demonstration of 100,000 workers led by the Union Obrera Democratica de Filipinas (UODF or Democratic Labor Union of the Philippines). The workers marched towards Malacañang Palace shouting “Down with US Imperialism!”.
Annually then after, workers and their labor groups commemorate International Labor Day with march and rallies calling for the respect of labor rights and welfare, and the upholding of the victories from the struggles of the working class. Workers’ unions gather with other labor groups and advocates, hold programs geared towards studying the general and particular state of the workers; draw plans of action in their fight for the recognition of labor rights and human rights, etc.
In these kind of activities, the social consciousness of the Filipino working class developed to a sharper level of understanding the need for social change to liberate them and the rest of the oppressed people towards build a better system.
But as the workers commemorate this historic date as their own, the states driven by the few elite ride on with the celebrations and maneuvered it to make the International Labor Day a simple public holiday. Capitalists in collaboration with bureaucrats water down its significance to the worker’s rights and welfare.
This May 1 International Workers’ Day, the labor agency of the government in cooperation with corporations and companies will stage so called job and livelihood fairs. Many will go to the convention center to look for the jobs that shall be posted at the job fairs. But the jobs that will be offered are temporary ones and many are jobs abroad.
It seems that May 1 is a day of job fairs where the unemployed and underemployed will race to hunt for work. Instead of remembering May 1 as the struggle of the people for security of tenure, livable wages, respect of labor and human rights and a call for a social transformation. # nordis.net