Origin and Importance of Workers’ Day

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BACKGROUND:

Congratulations once again to the Nigeria workers’ and in particular our friends, brothers and sisters in Kogi State on this year international workers day 2024. It is an annual event that showcase, evaluate and stocktaking by workers of the whole world. It is an importance day to celebrate the importance of workers contribution economically and socially.

Many years have passed since the first May Day demonstration in the USA and since the tragic events of 1886, when workers blood was shed by the Police in Chicago on May 3rd and 4th in celebrating each successive May Day, the working class and working people all over the world never forget that their day of solidarity as well as the international working class movement in general was borne out of the struggle of has battle against capitalism and its supporters.

By the middle of 1880s, the USA was a country of sharp social contrast. Suffice it to say that the working people then toiled up to 16 hours a day. This was a scandalous anachronism for the USA, which by the time had already become the world’s leading industrial nation. It was to a great extent, due to the relatively poor development of the trade union movement in American and this in turn, was in many ways a result of the specific circumstances under which the working class was formed there.

The existence up to the 1880s of free land in the West, with the chance to own them. Serve to retard the development of the proletariat’s class consciousness. The great majority of skill workers in the USA at that time were the descendants of the first Anglo-Saxon status and enjoyed a privileged status in society, one which became more secure as the industrial monopolies grew.

Never the less in 1881 was a working union founded. The federation of organized traders and Labour Unions of the United States and Canada, renamed the America Federation of Labour in 1886 was to play a leading part in the working-class movement.

It adopted the historic resolution on introducing an 8-hour working day at its congress on October 1886. the Trade Unions were to put into effect, begging with May 1, 1886 was corresponding to this revolution.

The procedure for putting this demand into practice was elaborated at the federation congress in 1885 negotiations were planned between the trade union and the management, hoping that they would result in agreement signed by both sides. In the events of negotiations failure, the Trade Unions were to strike on May 1886.

Thus, May 1, 1886 went down in the annals of the international working class movement history as the proletariat of a single country. The leaders of the working Trade Union appealed to all America working people to fight for the determine for many years to come the focus of May Day demonstrations of the working people in many countries of the world including Nigeria today.

May Day of 1886 is important because then the multinational working class demonstrated the growing strength of proletariat, solidarity.

May 1 was later proclaimed international working-class solidarity day. The history of all workers May Day action can be dated from the events of 1886 in USA. Although it was first celebrated as an international worker’s holiday in 1890.

MAY DAY FOR SOLIDARITY, INDEPENDENCE AND DEVELOPMENT

Solidarity has always been an inherent features of the working class. But the role and significance of proletarian internationalism has continued to increase steadily at every new stage of development of the working class movement.

The proletarian solidarity of the working people in the capitalist countries is coming to occupy an ever greater place in their anti-monopoly actions. These include May Day activities, during which especially in the recent years, the people have raised their voice against the power of monopolies. May Day has provided an opportunity to defend the working peoples gains and for their basic political, social and economic rights.

Capitalism has accumulated a whole arsenal of means to consolidate its power, trade unions are sometimes persecuted and even subjected to economic blackmail, anti-labour laws are put into force, all progressive forces are oppressed, constant supervision, or more precisely, surveillance of people’s thoughts and behaviour has become a norms the cultivation of individualism, of the right of the strong in the struggle for survival, has taken on unprecedented dimensions even in Nigeria till today and Kogi is no exception.

“Anti-solidarity” tendencies are nourished by bourgeois and sometimes by social-reformist politicians and ideologies. The workers are being convinced that the only way they can protect themselves from the disastrous consequences of crises, primarily unemployment, is by taking individual or corporate action, even if these run counter to the interest of the working class as a whole.

Under capitalism, employment is affected by using new scientific and technical innovations to whip up the arm race. Greater investments are made in the war industry which in turn, result in the elimination of jobs. This has negatives effect on the level of society as a whole.

The dynamics of employment in the capitalist world show that under present-day work must be combined with movement for peace and disarmament, for increasing the population’s purchasing power, for developing the social security system, for deceasing working hours while preserving established wages for better leisure facilities for a democratic reform of the public education system for the preservation of the environment. The struggle against unemployment, underemployment a tragedy that has stricken millions is a comprehensive and many-sided struggle that calls for a greater solidarity of the working class.

After the imperialist colonial system disintegrated on its ruins, emerged dozens of independent states. This historic achievement by the independent states. This historic achievement by the national liberation revolutions and movements greatly influenced the alignment of forces in the world. A process set of slow and difficult but incessant socio-economic changes in the lives of the majority of nations.

The solidarity which has been tested in the struggle for political liberations continues to develop now it is need to achieve economic independence and solve social and economic problems. That is why the appeals to struggle against famine, poverty, and for equality in world trade and the new international economic order are becoming ever more widespread in the zones of the national liberation struggle.

THE TRADE UNION AND THE SOCIAL MOVEMENT

Often times when the social movement or even civil society activities from which they arose are being discussed, the tendency is to categorize them separately from the trade union or on the larger context, labour movement.

Before we go ahead a bit of clarification is constituted by the organized sector of the working class. Those organized into some form of associations or the other involving workers in their places of work.

The labour movement on the other hand is much larger and it is more political in nature and includes the trade/industrial unions, the association and the political neighborhood and other such formations of the working people.

In Nigeria, the popular struggles and strikes which was called both by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) have help considerably in boosting the confidence of the popular masses.

What is being said therefore is that working people’s struggles have presented in various forms and are still manifesting in various forms here in Nigeria and elsewhere on the continent. These struggles have also been in response to deepening economic crises, deepening poverty, worsening conditions of living, the retrenchment and privatization, and the undermined human security. Also working people have used different platforms and different modes of struggle to realize their goals and to achieve a decent standard of living for themselves.

It is worrisome that the subsidy remover as announce by the present government have created injury and under-development for the workers and the Nigeria people, which was done without consultation. We however, noticed more money have been giving to states without much to show for it. In Kogi State for instance, we still stay months without water and meaniful infrastructures. Under the last immediate past administration in Kogi State, Housing Sector was the worst of it, as no single worker was given ordinary one bedroom flat, as the government fail to build and commission one bedroom flat despite the state hosting one of the biggest Cement Factory in Nigeria. Kogi State workers must raise to break the chain of oppression.

Despite that the Political appointees cruse around with big vehicles with colossal salaries and allowances, the Nigerian workers that create the wealth which the politicians squander without meaningful contribution to the development of the nation, the salaries of workers remain unpaid as at when due, and in most cases percentages is the order of the day particularly in Kogi State at Local Government level. We wonder how many governors receive percentages as their salaries.

As the agitation for salary increase dominate the airway now, workers day celebration, we call on the Federal, State Governments and the Private Sector to expedite action as it is a constitutional matter and it is the rights of workers to earn a leaving wages.

Solidarity forever!

CONCLUSION

In conclusion, it is important to note that every single movement that has emerged in human history and that has precipitated social change has been driven by the working people and that the weakness of the new social movement worldwide right now has been due to the fact that though the working peoples have been the driven force, they have not been consciously organized and mobilized as working peoples to participate in that struggle and seek to overturn the world of globalization and neo-liberalism to replace it with a world in their own image.

Over 100 years separate us from the events which took place in the USA given rise to the celebration of May Day. The working people of the world have won the right to hold these world-wide demonstrations through a bitter, persistence struggle. The 19th Century is now a part of history, and the 21st Century is close and we are now in the 23rd century, but the class battle in the world still rage. The news dispatches from the May Day demonstrations each year reminds us of those past clashed between proletariat and capitalism.

Indeed, a German newspaper of workers, issued on May Day of 1896, was prophetic in slating that May Day would outlive all bourgeois holidays becoming a holiday of spring and peace for all liberated mankind. May Day is a holiday directed toward the future for society will always need to join in an effort to advance along the endless path of social progress.

Thanks for this opportunity to speak to you.

Happy Workers Day Celebration!

Solidarity forever!!!

– Comrade Idris Miliki Abdul


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