The International Labour Day, widely known as May Day, was observed in the country, as elsewhere across the globe, on Tuesday with a demand for Tk 18,000 in the minimum wage for workers and pledge to establish the rights of workers, including trade union.
Apart from the government, political parties, trade unions, apparel worker organisations, professional bodies and socio-cultural and political organisations observed the day in Dhaka and elsewhere across the country holding rallies, discussions, seminars and cultural programmes and bringing out processions.
From the programmes, workers from all sectors, including formal and non-formal sectors, demanded for minimum wage of Tk 18,000 for a worker, improvement of the working conditions with better wages and safety for the workers.
The day was a public holiday, and the entire city was full of programmes of the working class people carrying red banners and flags and chanting slogans for the workers’ rights.
Prime minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the main national programme of the day at Bangabandhu International Conference Centre arranged by the Labour and Employment Ministry.
Hasina urged both employers and workers to maintain cordial relations among them avoiding any mayhem at workplaces.
The prime minister asked the workers not to engage in any anarchy at workplaces at the instigation from outsiders.
‘Mayhems break out when one pays heed to any instigation from any outsider. I’m warning all so that such thing never happens,’ she said urging them to give special attention to their workplaces so that those were not destroyed in any way as those provided them and their families with livelihoods.
Preside over by state minister for labour and employment Md Mujibul Haque, the programme was addressed, among others professional leaders and experts from both local and international arena, by parliamentary standing committee on labour and employment chairman Monnuzan Sufian.
President Abdul Hamid and prime minister Sheikh Hasina have issued separate messages greeting the working class people of the country and wishing their overall welfare.
Jatiyatabadi Sramik Dal, associate labour body of Bangladesh Nationalist Party, alleged that they could not hold any programme to observe the historic day as the Dhaka Metropolitan Police denied them permission to hold any programme.
Metropolitan police Motijheel zone assistant deputy commissioner Shibly Noman, however, denied the allegation and said that they deployed police around the BNP central office to give protection to the leaders.
At Motijheel, Paltan, Press Club and Gulistan several workers organisation hold rally and procession and demanded to set minimum wage for a worker at Tk 18,000.
Holding the programmes with banners, festoons carrying messages of ensuring the rights of workers at workplace, the workers and leaders asked government to ensure workplace safety.
From the rally held at Paltan organised by Communist Party of Bangladesh-backed Garment Sramik Trade Union Kendra, CPB president Mujahidul Islam Selim said that the minimum wage of should be more TK 18,000 for workers.
He also demanded establishment of the rights of workers in accordance with the International Labour Organisation.
Samajtantrik Sramik Front, associate labour body of the Bangladesher Samajtantrik Dal, also brought procession at Paltan.
BSD leader Razekuzzaman Ratan also demanded Tk 18,000 as the minimum wage and establishment of right to do trade union at work places.
Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal president Hasanul Haq Inu, also the information minister, demanded Tk 18,000 as the minimum wage.
Sramik Karmachari Oikya Parishad, a platform of 14 labour organisations, held a rally in front of the National Press Club.
Newspapers have published supplements while radio and television channels aired special programmes highlighting the significance of the day.
May 1 was adopted as the International Labour Day by socialist delegates in Paris on July 14, 1889. More than 400 of them met in Paris on the centenary of the French Revolution at the Marxist International Socialist Congress, the founding meeting of the Second International.
The Federation of Organised Trades and Labour Unions of the United States and Canada, in its convention in 1884, passed a resolution: ‘Eights hours shall constitute a legal day’s labour, from and after 1 May, 1886.’
Many of the strikes in 1886 were unsuccessful but on 3 May, 1886 one of the anarchists, August Spies, addressed a crowd of strikers at McCormick Harvester Works in Chicago, Illinois, where a force of 200 cops attacked the crowd. At least one striker was killed. About half a dozen were seriously wounded.
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