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Clamouring rights: Labour Day being marked today

KARACHI: A day marked across the world as ‘Labour Day’ on May 1 is also being observed in Pakistan with equal spirited pledges to ensure fundamental rights to laborers, making it to seem like a ‘Clamour Day’. 

Trade unions, labour leaders and different civil society organizations take out rallies on the day to highlight vulnerable condition of laborers in the country. Different programs are arranged in cities like Karachi, Peshawar, Lahore, Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Multan and Quetta to express solidarity with labourers on the day. Ironically various seminars and rallies have failed to draw government attention to this downtrodden segment of the society.

The menace of child labour and bonded labour still exist in Pakistan, with no authoritative action in sight to ensure their basic rights.

The history of this day can be traced back to around 1810 when the 'Eight-Hour Day Movement' began. This workers' movement was trying to stop the exploitation of labourers who struggled long hours, sometimes up to 16 hours a day, in terrible conditions for low pay and, due to a complete lack of job security, were too frightened to take even a single day off work.

The Eight Hour Day Movement organised all workers to publicly demand the right to eight hours of work, eight hours of recreation and eight hours of rest per day which seems like a reasonable request although the majority of their employers didn't see it this way.

This movement then appeared in Canada and later spread to other countries.

Over the following decades, workers movements slowly spread all over the world and the conditions which many workers laboured under gradually improved. May 1st is the day on which numerous countries have a holiday to celebrate the rights of workers but, in America and a handful of other countries, these celebrations take place on September 1 instead as governments there do not want this wonderful day to be used to commemorate those who died in Chicago while demonstrating for their rights.

Meanwhile, alongside other programs, a gathering is also scheduled today at Labour Ground in SITE area Karachi, be organized by National Trade Union Federation. It is pertinent to mention here that on Sept 11, 2012, a fire swept through the factory in SITE area, killing over 300 workers in what was termed as one of the most horrible tragedies in the country inflicting huge human loss.

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