Since 1894, May 1st. has served as commemoration to mark workers’ gaining social rights all over the world. Curiously enough, said celebration is held in practically all nations except in the United States of America & Canada, with their own holiday set on the first Monday of September.
True to say that labour rights are far from reaching an equilibrium point applicable to any and all workers alike. Each state and government progresses at varying speeds of social achievements and protection for workers in the multiple entrepreneur activities at local, national & international fronts. Far from being eradicated, child labour and women’s discrimination still are practices in vigour in a great number of underdeveloped and developing countries in Africa, Asia & Latin America. Furthermore, the conquests of the Eight-hour A Day Movement that motivated the setting up of the popular May Day (Labour Day) holiday in Britain in the late 18th. Century has not erased completely long working shifts of more than 10 hours per day in developed countries, with the U.S.A. and Canada at the top.
Globalisation has further deepened workers’ lack of protection towards a dignified working post and even their health & welfare put in danger. The concept of free-market competitiveness has only set its aim at maximum economic profit with little concern for the means of attaining same. In consequence, it is the weaker members of the international community that bear the load of excessive working hours for minimum retributions.
At such times of crisis where even qualified workers are laid off from traditionally well-paid secure jobs such as those in High-Tech industries, one must consider what is to become of this globalised work environ full of mediocre potential labour competing in unequal terms in countries with increasing unemployment. Going even a step further down, we should attempt to understand the desperate intents of Chicanos crossing the Río Grande border into supposedly prosperous America or Africans defying the ocean in cayucos to reach the Spanish and/or Italian coasts of the European Promise Land.
If this world in crisis is incapable of understanding that misery & hunger in underdeveloped regions of the world are nurtured with modern-day means of communication such as television & internet to keep them informed of the bounties in other hemispheres, then we have not learnt the basics of human nature and our capacity to fair out even in extreme danger. Perhaps, we may have been blinded by the privileges we have enjoyed thus far without considering that in the meantime others have suffered the backlash of our excesses in the wake of our own economic progress and status-seeking selfishness.
The time has come to ponder on the responsibility of each and every citizen of the world in creating a collective conscience towards a true-hearted movement aimed at equal opportunities in attaining a dignified work post and optimum social welfare coverage.
This is the challenge for all of us in a world in crisis in this New Millennium.
Madrid, May 1st. 2009