By: Lailuma Noori
May 1st is celebrated as May Day in most countries around the world. In most countries of the world, the day is marked to honor laborers and stress on salaries of workers. World Labor Day, the root of which is advocacy for justice, goes back for almost 135.
The first May Day celebrations focused on workers took place on May 1st 1890 after its proclamation by the first international congress of socialist parties in Europe on July 14th 1889 in Paris, France, to dedicate May 1st every year as the “Workers Day of International Unity and Solidarity.”
The date was chosen due to events on the other side of the Atlantic. In 1884 the American Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions demanded an eight-hour workday, to come in effect as of May 1st 1886. This resulted in the general strike and the Haymarket (in Chicago) Riot of 1886, but eventually also in the official sanction of the eight-hour workday.
This event, known as The Haymarket Affair, was very important in bringing working people together in the USA. Many people didn’t believe the men were guilty, and the trial was criticised for being unfair.
The Haymarket Affair became an international symbol of the struggle for workers’ rights, and May 1 was chosen to be International Workers’ Day. On this day, socialist parties and trade unions called for workers to demonstrate for the eight-hour day and in favour of peaceful protest. The eight-hour working day became law for public workers in 1892 in the USA. Since then, workers’ movements all over the world have continued to fight for and win this right.
However, in recent years, working conditions in many situations have got worse. Since the global financial crisis of 2008, part-time, short-term and badly paid work has become more common, and state pensions are at risk. We have also seen the rise of the ‘gig economy’, where companies hire workers casually for one short job at a time. These workers don’t have the usual rights to paid holidays, the minimum wage or redundancy pay. Solidarity with other workers is as important as ever.
Unfortunately, in Afghanistan the situation for workers has not improved and this part of society do not have benefits of their rights.
The most important issue in life of Afghan workers in the country that no judicial and security organs guarantee work security of workers; therefore, employers can sack their workers anytime they want. Another concerning issue in the life of workers in Afghanistan is the increased unemployment which has created lots of problems to the people in the country. The government and private sector should adopt particular measures to address the unemployment issue in the country. Based on information of the country’s national statistic authority, half of the country’s population have no work to make a living for their families. In the meantime, nearly 400,000 new workers add annually workforce in the country.