Citizens' verdict on Labour Day: We have a long way to go

Ashwarya Sharma works as a senior analyst for Soprasteria, an IT firm based out of Noida. He feels that International Labour Day has been instrumental in empowering the working class throughout the world but also maintains that there is a lack of human rights within Indian working class.

"I think there is a long way for us to go for equal labour and human rights, across all industries, especially for women, the roles have to be more defined especially for expectant mothers, who still face discrimination at work".

Labour Day originated in United States way back in the industrialization era to put an end to exploitation of the working class.

In 1889, the International Socialist Conference declared that, in commemoration of the Haymarket affair, May 1 would be an international holiday for labor, now known in many places as International Workers' Day. (

"The fight for leisure — clearly lost today — was a great unifying aspiration of the immigrant workers movement a century ago with its slogan, 'eight hours for work, eight hours for sleep, eight hours for what we will,'" Nelson Lichtenstein, professor of history at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and director of the Center for the Study of Work, Labor, and Democracy, wrote in a 2006 essay in (

May Day is symbolized in many countries as a day to honour equal rights of the workers internationally.

How much have we been able to achieve that in India?

Meeta Verma, Psychologist, practicing in Greater Noida says, "We are not yet there. I think a lot about maids. We never treat them like labour. They are not an organized sector. Households help need to have more space, more expression, in this movement. Do we think of them as labour who has rights? I don't think so. They don't have annual bonuses, medical facilities or anything like that. We need to do something about that".

In India, Labour Day was first celebrated in Madras (now Chennai) on May 1, 1923 by the Labour Kisan Party of Hindustan. Its leader, Comrade Singaravelar, held two meetings to mark the occasion, one at Triplicane beach and the other on the beach opposite the Madras High Court. The party passed a resolution stating that the government should grant workers a national holiday on May 1. (

Even during the first world war, when protest was punishable by imprisonment and hard labour, May Day demonstrations were often flashpoints of anti-war struggle. (

At the time, it was common for workers to have to work 11 hours or more each day. (

" We need to get this movement work for the labour in India. People working in factories, they are not getting the benefits as much as they should. They work for insane hours and are not paid enough. They also work in harsher, unhygienic conditions. On International Labour Day, we should strive for a more just and fair environment for the working class, men and women, both", says Sonali Modha, Patient Care Executive, ITS Dental College.

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