Today the whole world remembers Labor Day. History tells us that in 1886 in Chicago labor demonstrators demanded a 10-hour workday when they were working 12 hours or somewhere more than 12 hours. The 10-hour workday included 2 hours for meals.
American police fired at them and some laborers were killed and their white peace flags got stained in the color of blood. It was after this incident that the international labor struggle began to be represented by the color red. That day was a dark one. Suppression by the state was shown in full starkness. That incident also made clear that the state had been a major tool of exploitative capitalism in the initial industrialization era and its role was continuing on similar lines.
It meant that the actual aspirations behind the American Civil War and the movement headed by Abraham Lincoln had been betrayed at that point in the history of the United States. America does not commemorate the Chicago incident on May 1st to this day. Instead, it commemorates Labor Day on the first Monday of September. Canada blindly follows the same, as they disown day.
After the Russian Socialist Revolution this day began to be commemorated officially. Gradually more than 80 countries began to commemorate this date. As per my view this became the driving cause behind the shaping of all important labor laws in various countries.
In Pakistan, while Mister Zulfi announced the commemoration of this date on one hand, on the other there is an important aspect which cannot be ignored. On June 7th 1972 in Landhi labor demonstrations broke out. The workers of Landhi Industrial Area took to the streets and policemen fired at them killing many. Suddenly a picture of what had happened 86 years earlier in Chicago could be seen in Karachi. So in that sense I’d say we should commemorate two Labor Days and not just one.
But then something horrible happened in Karachi on September 11th 2012, when a textile factory in Baldia mysteriously went up in flames burning around 300 workers to the worst death imaginable. A factory generating about $10 million per year while exemplifying the most pathetic working conditions within its walls.
Besides this there was also an accident the same day in Lahore where a shoe factory caught fire killing 25 workers. These are only a few examples. There are hundreds of other examples not only in Pakistan but all over the world. History remembers thousands of such tragedies. Dilemma is that we do not have proper records of labor disasters at an international level whereas records of the maximum kisses during a single spell can be found in the Guinness Book. Nevertheless, I don’t mean that there should be as many Labor Days as there have been disasters to be enjoyed as holidays and considered holy days, but the fact is that the whole calendar belongs to laborers because they are the force to create and maintain society. All credit goes to laborers.
While the Factory Act of 1934 tells us another story about workers’ rights to health and safety at the workplace. Pakistani factories are also bound to follow the laws spelled out in the Act. It is a very detailed Act but I am sharing some of its clauses: “Cleanliness,Disposal of wastes and effluents, Ventilation and temperature, Dust and fumes, Artificial humidification, Overcrowding, Lighting, Drinking water, Precautions against contagious or infectious disease, Compulsory vaccination and inoculation, Precautions in case of fire, Fencing of machinery, Work on or near machinery in motion, Striking gear and devices for cutting off power, Floors, stairs and means of access, Pits, sumps, opening in floors, etc, Precautions against dangerous fumes, Explosive or inflammable dust, gas, etc, Notice of certain accidents.”
So what can be inferred from the aforementioned incidents of labor oppression and the clauses excerpted from the Labor Act right above?
As I can understand, this shit is the outcome of a new version of capitalist society. A society which also carries an artificial color of socialism in the guise of the tag: ‘welfare society’. But all this rubbish is only found on paper and in pompous rhetoric. It is just using mouths to shoot words which amount to nothing.
Welfare can’t have a place in capitalism. Capitalism is a profit-oriented system having only one theme and that is to multiply the profit. It is just dupery. Laborers aren’t counted as humans. They’re just taken like tools which are abused by the upper, ruler and capitalist classes because there is no lacking such tools.
Latest posts by Syed Muhammad Mujtaba (see all)
- Naya Qanoon, Naya Pakistan - September 24, 2014
- From the Hearts of Bus Drivers of Pakistan: Touching Video - July 9, 2014
- Labor Day: Your Comfort Comes off Labor’s Sweat… - May 1, 2014