May Day (Workers’ Day) May it be a better pay day next year
Tuesday, May 06, 2008
An opportune time to reflect on the plight of workers globally moreso here in our homeland-mother Gambia
I wish to take on a heavyweight in the personified character of the Worker/Employee and this promises to be no ordinary contest as there is very little if anything at all that is said to thus, support, better, improve and legislate against the ills that dogged this very important person called the Worker/Employee. He is my father, your mother, his brother, her sister, their uncle and our granny meaning they are every working person in every nook and corner of this globe. However, for simplicity shake and a thorough diagnose of the subject matter under scrutiny here I rather restrict my self to the humble Gambian worker.
The Worker has been exploited throughout history and they have been the source of every successful investment, company, nation and endeavour. The worker now categorised under human resources epileptic has throughout history been down trodden.
Take at look at what workers can do and what they actually did in the building of the anceint Egypt mighty pyramids, the slavery plantations of the West Indies, the concentration communal fields under Stalin in the former USSR. That is the power of labour that is what workers give you albeit in some cases it was forced labour, coerce to extract the best out of an enslave people. They toil till their backs break and the reward they got was a bowl of soup to keep them working and energised.
A journey into history about Mayday
May Day occurs on May 1 and refers to any several public holidays. In many countries, May Day is synonymous with International Worker’ Day or Labour Day, which celebrates the social and economic achievements of the Labour movement.
As a day of celebration the holiday has ancient origins and it can relate to many customs that have survived into modern times. Many of these customs are due to May Day being a cross-quarter day, meaning that it falls approximately halfway between an equinox and a solstice.
The earliest May Day celebrations appeared in pre-Christian Europe, as in the Celtic celebration of Beltane, and the Walpurgis Nigh of Germanic countries. Many pre-Christian indigenous celebrations were eventually banned or Christianized during the process of the Christianisation of Europe. As a result a more secular version of the holiday continued to be observed in the schools and churches of Europe well into the 20th. Century. In this form, May Day may be best known for its tradition of dancing the Maypole and crowning of the queen of the May Day.
Today various Neopagan groups celebrate reconstructed (to varying degrees) versions of these customs on 1 May. The day was a traditional summer holiday in many pre-Christian European pagan cultures. While February 1 was the first day of spring, May 1 was the first day of summer; hence the Summer solstice on June 25(Now June21) was midsummer.
In Roman Catholic tradition, May is observed as Mary’s month, and in these circles May Day is usually a celebration of the Blessed Virgin Mary. In this connection, in works of art, school skits, and so forth, Mary’s head will often be adorned with flowers. Fading in popularity since the late 20th century is giving of ‘May baskets,’ small baskets of sweets and/or flower, usually left anonymously on neighbours’ doorsteps
International Workers’ Day
May Day can refer to various labour celebrations conducted on May 1 that commensurate the fight for the eight hour day. May Day in this regard is called International Workers’ Day, or Labour Day. The choice of May 1 was a commemoration by the second International for the people involved in the 1886 Haymarket affairs.
The Haymarket incident occurred during the course of a three-day general strike in Chicago, Illinois that involved common labourers, artisans, merchants and immigrants. Following an incident in which police opened fire and killed four strikers at the McCormick Harvesting Machine Co. plant, a rally was called for the following day at the end of the rally, as police moved into disperse the event, an unknown assailant threw a bomb into the crowd of police.
The bomb and the resulting police riot left at least a dozen people dead, including seven policemen. A sensational show trial ensued in which eight defendants were openly tried for their political beliefs, and not necessarily for any involvement in the bombing. The trial lead to the eventual public hanging of four anarchists. The Haymarket incident was source of outrage from people around the globe. In the following years, memory of the ‘HAYMARKET MARTYRS’ was remembered with various May Day jobs actions and demonstrations.
As such, May Day has become an international celebration of the social and economic achievement of the labour movement. Although May Day received its inspirirations from the United States, the US Congress designated May 1 as Loyalty Day in 1958 due to the day’s appropriation by the Soviet Union.
Alternatively Labour Day traditionally occurs sometime in September in the United States. Some view this as an effort to isolate American workers from the worldwide community. People often use May Day as a day for political protest, such as the million people who demonstrated against far-right candidate Jean-Marie Le Pen in France or as a day for protest against government actions, such as pro-immigrants rallies across the United State.
The Gambian experience about Mayday
Here in the Gambia, the most we remember about Mayday since from way back when we were children is the popular Sports Bit. Trust me, when you ask a lot of school going kids about May Day their minds will race to Sport at the Independence Stadium. To them May Day is all about sports and keeping entertain at the independence stadium.
That is far from the truth and as a nation and a people we should exploit new ways and links to get our populace and our children, the future leaders of tomorrow to know about the significance of May Day and what it means to the worker and wage earner and most importantly how to better the lives and livelihood of the working person and their respective families.
The way forward
As workers we must get organised (although we are somehow) to demand, protest, March and campaign for better conditions of PAY and better working conditions for our masses.
As workers we have a right to be seen, heard and acknowledged as equal members of society who are moving and involved in the very bread and butter aspect of things to keep the country moving for all to live and rejoice in peace and blessing bestowed on us as a nation and a people.
The worker must be sensitised and educated to know his/her rights and what it means to be a working class or working for a better life. Every successful person be it in private or public sector once trek the roads of a working person before today, so they must enjoin the slaving majority in the masses to better pay and coditions of work.
What is the solution?
This is what I think?
The relevant authorities or whosoever claims to represent the Gambian workers must come out and lunch a sensitisation programme about workers’ right and get workers informed about what it takes to be passive and demand better pay and better conditions of work. Remember these people are our very own so we are all affected so the mission is for the economical emancipation of the food basket in every house hold. There should be a theme each year on what we aim to focus on as far as the worker is concern. It could be for, better wages, better working conditions, a stop the bullying and abuse in the working environment, training, and so forth.
In the same vein, every one of us should ask the question as who is the worker. If through divine destiny you found yourself as a Director or Head of Department or it might have happen by accident that you’re a board member or chairman of a multinational corporation you should ask yourself whether your children will be as lucky as you are today or is that all your brothers and sisters are also as lucky as you are in handling such privilege and coveted positions as you? If the answer is no then you are like the rest of us and if the answer is yes that I would like to know you in person.
The point that I am trying to highlight here is the mere fact that being lucky and privilege to manned such position is not a mere show thing it is about people and people’s lives and livelihood as a nation and a people. I would therefore implore you today to start something be it a very crucial move or a strategic agenda to improve and change your employees’ way of living by upgrading their status both financially and administrative wise.
There is a reason for you being there and that mission I wish to discuss with you today on this column. You are in the business of changing lives and nothing less than is expected of you. As we celebrate another May Day I wish to appeal to all Heads be it of Government Departments, Parastatals or private sector I ask of you individually and collectively to look at means and ways of helping your employees and in return thereby helping yourself.
Your daughter or son may end up as a clerk tomorrow in that very govt department when were gone ages ago and still suffer or benefit from policies thou instituted or helped changed. do think, think very hard as it is a great responsibility bestowed on you. Do it for your children, do it for posterity and do it for love of creation and mankind. Do not sit in your easy chair enjoying your title and rank and do nothing of essence to changing lives and livelihood of your people.
We all know of directors and heads of departments who are now gone and some did very important things for their department and some who did nothing. Remember the legacy lives on and history has recorded your deed and today worker are not singing your praises. So be warned and start something new and good for your people today as you will one day be history like those before you. think again, your job and your position is for changing lives and livihood and nothing less than that. I loathe those of you heads and directors who take cover in the name of poilicy this and policy that to stop you from improving and doing the right.
We know you will say policy. Policy but policy is made by people but may be those policy makers at such a time were working and for you, you are holidaying at our collective expense. However, we are equally human like you so we know the score therefore stop the mourning and get the files moving. This country and these people are our people so let us put aside the POLICY EXCUSE and help change the conditions of the workers today. The workers you help change their live today could help set a precedent for other beneficiaries including your children tomorrow. So good thing comes to all those who do good and helping today is paving a smooth path for your children tomorrow. Think, think and think responsibly.
The fallen comrades
Mayday is a very goodtime to pay our respects and extend our solidarity to all the families who suffered a loss in the way of duties to the country be it directly or indirectly. These fallen heroes could be both public and private employees and their departure has only lessened us as a people and a nation. I am tortured by the thinking about how the children they left behind go to school, how their dear wives get on again, how their mothers ands fathers cope if they were the bread winners.
This is also a time for us to remember these fallen heroes and ask ourselves have there been adequately compensated in financial terms to the families they left behind. In our recent history we have the colossal losses of lives at Sankung Sillah Soap Factory, The Arch 22 construction causalities to name but two. I hope and I wish to renew people’s memory as to whether there has been sufficient compensation to the families of the victims?
We cannot change anything here but we can ask questions that we wish are genuinely answered. I also ask the affected families to make a follow-up to the bottom or to the top and make sure they get their dues to the final decimal point. We are an emerging democracy and we have a dynamic and listening president so your job as a family is half done. Pick up the phone today or pay the necessary taxi a fare to the respective office and sort out your compensation packages and it has to be the right compensation. Good luck as that is a lead please follow it. The times to sit down are gone, get up today and solve your problems.
Most improve worker
The most improve worker for me over the years when I was away in the UK is the traditional domestic worker locally known as (MBI NDAN).
This is great, isn’t it good to see a group of people rise up and say no to their way of living until the rest of us became politically, economically and mathematically conscious that indeed these lot are human like the rest of us privilege ones and deserve better PAY and RESPECT. I therefore salute everyone who was involved in raising the status of the Gambian MBI NDAN, Bravo to you lot.
The MBI NDAN is so respected today that there is a mix-mixture about the composition of the MBI ADAN LEAGUE which is advancement in our Gambianess and a progress in our recognition of Human Rights and acknowledgement of our next door neighbour’s existence and wellbeing.
In these times to even get a MBI NDAN is difficult so keeping one these days is a difficult job that present employers must try to work hard on. I have seen the day right here, right now where our mothers and fathers who had not been to school talking about MOTIVATION OF THE MBI NDAN.
That is priceless it is good and indeed great to see African especially Gambian standing up for their right to be counted. Keep up the momentum wherever you are and I salute every working person under the face of the planet working for a better family life and a future worth living for but remember if it is worth living for then the onus is also it is worth dying for. Go home and go back to work and ask your boss you deserve a better pay and working conditions. If your boss is the narrow-minded type then ask for a training package so that you can go on further studies both internally or externally for a better life. Remember he is your boss today but tomorrow has a lot install so keep the faith and keep fighting for a better live and remember it is a right not a privilege.
I pray that the May Day Spirit be with all of you and may Allah shower more scholarships, training opportunities, more promotions, more PAY, Better working condition for all and sundry as long as you respect people in the work place and you do not subscribe to the African Doctrine of PHD- pull him down, which we are very good at doing. Gone are the days when Africans will kill its great sons and daughters and leave the fool to lead the masses.
Every nation and a people in history have been delivered by great ones of their kind so we must learn as a people to keep our great ones be it the electrician or the Head of State. One thing I know the country is booming and there is a stake for everyone who is ready. I challenge you today to rise up and stake your claim. I must also close this May Day Dedication to the powers that be for creating the enabling environment that we all live under. May Allah give you more wisdom and good health to deliver us, free of hunger and want? Good week, good food, good vibes and please, please, please keep the peace, it is priceless remember.