In this day and age where life is a race, everyone has been compelled to work hard to survive. Almost everyone labours and hence a labourer.
But there are those who work day and night not only for their families, but also to keep the economy on the move.
Thousands of labourers work elsewhere in the country and do not see their families for months. Then there are those who have gone abroad as skilled workers to bring in foreign revenue. The problems and trials they face are known to everyone.
On May 1, the world appreciates the value of the labourers who toil hard for there organizations, countries and their families. It is a day dedicated for them, the workers who ensure that the country does not stop even for a second.
Sri Lanka has enough and more labourers. One only has to walk along the road in the mornings to see for themselves the amount of labour strength Sri Lanka has. They clean streets, they lay roads, they carry heavy loads and building materials along treacherous pathways. Yes, their lives are not that great. But they work or toil at desks to keep the country moving.
But are their efforts recognized the way they should be? Yes. We do commemorate May Day. But do we see the labourers coming to the fore?
Do we really felicitate them. Sadly, we don’t. We are living in a world where there is always someone who would look to make use of someone else’s plight for his or her own advantage.
Sadly, the May Day has also become a victim of such a mindset, thanks to politicians. Yes there are trade unions who campaign for the rights of the workers and labourers. But unfortunately, several of these trade unions are now affiliated to major political parties. Even political parties bring out the issues of workers during their rallies. But, do we see the labourers among the politicians?
Since of late, we have come across situations where political outfits opt for marches and processions to show their political strength and might. Today, May Day is also one of them.
Many of these May Day rallies are used by parties mainly to make a political statement instead of bringing out the concerns of the workers.
The processions are not identified by those who are in it, but by the colours displayed. The colours lead the way while the workers follow.
It is time that the workers come out on their own and voice their concerns. Even claims made by trade unions cannot be considered authentic because of their political affiliations. Why do the workers have to be used only to extend the procession? Why cannot they come to the fore? Why do they keep silent?
One could argue that some political rallies speak on behalf of the workers. But once the rally gets a political twist, the whole exercise becomes in vain.
The government too should use the May Day to address issues faced by labourers. Why wait till the budget?
The May Day is the best time for the government to make its pledges and fulfill the needs of the workers.
There is nothing wrong in political parties speaking on behalf of workers. But why hog the limelight on a day that is dedicated for the workers?
Let them come to the fore for a day. You have the rest of the year to care for them and to help them.
Published in the Nation on April 29, 2017