30 Apr Equality is a privilege, share it with those lesser privileged
— International Workers Day —
History – whether ancient, medieval, or modern – is replete with accounts of struggles and movements by various minority groups. One such struggle was fought and won by the trade unions across the world against the inhumane working conditions faced by the labour / worker class of the world. Following decades of struggle across countries, today, May Day is celebrated on 1st of May across the world as a public holiday globally.
Are we honouring their struggle?
The struggle may have been fought and won, but are we really honouring those who lost precious years, and some even their lives because of the struggle? Unfortunately, many industries and organisations still treat workers unjustly and unfairly.
Developed nations take advantage of cheap labour in third world countries such as India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, etc., where workers are made to work under inhuman conditions. Countries such as the United Arab Emirates and Singapore have large migrant populace from less developed East Asian countries. These proleteriats are at times even forced to surrender their passports until the governments of these countries see fit.
Closer home, things are not vastly different. In India, millions of workers are employed by the construction sector. These workers work come rain or shine, in unprotected conditions without helmets, PPEs, risking their lives every day for meagre sums of daily wages.
Not all hope is lost
Progress comes slow and steady. For years, Indian government has been working towards ensuring a better lifestyle for its labour class workers. There are multiple labour welfare schemes in place for said workers and their families in rural or urban areas.
Even today, in times of crisis when the world has been brought to its knees by a deadly contagion, the government of India is committed to supporting migrant workers during the lockdown by activating disaster response funds. Following the centre’s directives, state governments have set up camps and are offering food to the workers stuck in cities.
Each for equal
While in a utopian world, each citizen of the world would be equal, we are far from utopia. All we can do at an individual level is to ensure we support these workers who help sustain the world we live in. After all, if not economically, nature created all humans equal, and we would be violating the balance if we did not see to her directives!