Beginning in the late 19th century, as the trade union and labour movements grew, a variety of days were chosen to celebrate labour.
1st of May was chosen to be international workers’ Day to commemorate the 1886 Haymarket affair in Chicago. In that year beginning on 1st of May, there was a general strike for the eigjt-hour workday.
On 4th of May, the police acted to disperse a public assembly in support of the strike when an unidentified person threw a bomb. The police responded by firing on the workers. The event led to the deaths of seven police officers and at least four civilians; sixty police officers were injured, as were an unknown number of civilians. Hundreds of labour leaders and sympathizers were later rounded-up and four were executed by hanging, after a trial that was seen as a miscarriage of justice. Subsequent events culminated into unwarranted attacks against striking workers.
In 1889, a meeting in Paris was held by the first congress of the Second International, following a proposal that call for international demonstrations on the 1890 anniversary of the Chicago protests. May Day was formally recognized as an annual event at the International’s Second Congress in 1891.
The May Day event was further popularized by the International Socialist Congress, Social Democratic Party Organizations and Trade Unions of all countries to demonstrate energetically on the First of May for the legal establishment of the 8-hours day, for the class demands of the proletariat, and for universal peace.
The congress made it mandatory upon the proletarian organizations of all countries to stop work on 1st of May, wherever it is possible without injury to the workers.
The COVID-19 pandemic on the other hand is an infectious disease caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The disease was first identified in December 2019 in Wuhan, the capital of China’s Hubei province, and has since spread globally.
World Health Organization (WHO) declared the outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern on 30th January, 2020. Due to the increasing number of cases reported across the countries of the world, WHO on the 11th of March 2020 declared the COVID-19 a Pandemic. As at 1st of May 2020 more than 3.25 million cases of COVID-19 have been reported in 187 countries and territories. Resulting in more than 233,000 deaths. More than 1.01 million people have so far recovered.
The spread of COVID-19 has already had a large negative impact on labour surplus and earnings of workers in many countries. The world economy is enduring a staggering downturn amidst the spread of COVID-19 individuals are already suffering immediate losses in terms of income and employment. The downturn is particularly harsh for younger workers and those in more precarious types of employment, such as the gig economy. The pressure is so high that many report going to work with flu-like symptoms, which poses a health risk to all. We find that this behaviour is particularly likely for those without paid sick leave.
Many people are already confined to their homes, some by choice and others by government order. While some workers see minor changes when switching to their home office, for many this means they cannot do their jobs.
In Nigeria, the vast majority of the workers, especially the proletarians in private employments are left to suffer in the face of uncertainty, their fate lies on the magnanimity of their greedy employers. The proles that rely on daily struggle for survival have been subjected to brutal attacks from the bourgeois, ruling and political elites representing the capitalistic class of the society. In some Nigeria clime, the Artisans, market women, market men, transporters have to contend with vandals and murderers under the guise of governmnt officials and security agents.
Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) need to do more for the liberation of the proletariats.
In conclusion, I suggest that workers all over the world to unite in order to fight for the enthronement of Egalitarian order, placing the mode of production and distribution under the Democratic control of the workers.
“May the road of the workers be rough”
Yours in Struggle,
Comrade Ayodele Toluwalase Shedrach,
Egalitarian Resources Centre.
Lawyers of Thought Int’l.