Posted on 04.30.2019 by Chandana Sirimalwatte in Views with 0 Comments
The United National Party is second to none when it comes to the notorious history of suppression of workers and especially for prohibiting the International Worker’s Day. During the 1980 worker’s strike when thousands of workers were fighting for fair workers’ rights it was MP Lalith Athulathmudali of the UNP who was challenging them by saying they will be sent to the cemetery. Thousands of workers were sacked and as a result, in the face of social and economic hardships, hundreds committed suicide. Even after that, the UNP chose suppression in relation to worker’s rights. In 1987 J. R. Jayawardhane banned the International workers day and the progressive people in the society who opposed that and worked towards protecting the right to hold the International Worker’s Day under the name of “Movement to Protect the Motherland”, were shot and assaulted by the police.
But even after that history of suppressing the workers, the UNP government can be pointed as the government that has consecutively banned the International Worker’s Day two years in a row. In 2018 the excuse they used was the Wesak celebrations. This year it is the situation of the bomb attack. Numerous political parties have stated in advance that due to the fear of the uncertainty after the bomb attack on churches and hotels on Easter Sunday, they will not hold any worker’s day rallies. But whoever is trying to decide whether they are celebrating the International Worker’s Day where workers around the world are celebrating as their day to salute the revolutionary aspect of the worker’s struggle, must do it according to their valuation of this special day. Some political parties and groups who celebrate the 1st of May are doing it as politcal propaganda for their party. For them, the 1ST OF May is not the worker’s day but a day to exhibit party colours and making tall cut-outs of their party leaders. But the real Worker’s Day is a day where workers all over the world united in a revolutionary struggle to win worker’s rights.
The International Worker’s Day was named, or in popular terms why the 1st of May was named as the “International Worker’s Day” must be looked into. In 1884 in the United States of America the trade unions whose membership was over a million discussed to protest against the difficult working conditions and especially to limit the working hours per day to 8 hours. They were at the time doing 12- 14 hours a day. They decided to enter into a struggle to demand an 8-hour working day and also give the government time to do so but if this is not given they decided to fight for it. In accordance with this decision, they gave a deadline to the capitalist government as 1st of May 1886.
When that day was reached after more than one year the government wasn’t showing any willingness to agree to the 8 hour working day. Due to this, the unions called a strike action on that day. All over America the workers entered clamour and held rallies and protest meetings to win worker’s rights and the 8-hour working day. In the city of Chicago, the workers engaged in a militant protest campaign. Due to the strike action and the workers been on the streets protesting, the US authorities and the capitalist companies faced a very uncomfortable situation. In the face of this, the authorities plotted a plan to destabilize the protest movement. The police and their goons ambushed a protest rally held by the workers who were not afraid by the government suppression. The subversive elements attacked with bombs and the police started shooting at the protesters. Seven policemen and four workers lost their lives on this day.
That was how the rulers of the USA took the steps to curb the Chicago workers struggle for 8 hours working day. The workers dresses were soaked with blood as a result of repressive attacks. They shouted the slogans by raising the blood red shirts against the brutal rulers suppression. Since then the worldwide worker movements began to use red flag in their struggles. However, the rulers had to declare the 8 hours working day as the result of the workers struggle. It became as a standard decision not only in USA but also in Europe and worldwide one later. Therefore the 8 hours working day and the other benefits that workers having today is a results of what the then working people voiced, what they shed as blood and what they sacrificed as lives. According to an approved proposal of Second Communist International in 1889, the 1st of May, the day Chicago workers started their struggle, nominated as the world labourers day.
By now, the imperialists who exploiting, cheating and suppressing the workers to continue their power, do not see or feel any value of the International Workers Day. The rulers including Lanka who are in association with the global capitalists, exploiting their citizens, suppressing their voices and killing them when they standing their rights, do not care or feel the International Workers Day. 1st of May is just a normal day for them to launch their propaganda to put blame their rivals and cheating the voters. But for the working people, International Workers Day is not considered as just an annual commemorative day. Following the message of “Proletariat of all countries, Unite!” include in the ‘Manifesto of the Communist Party’, drafted by Karl Marx and Engels, the Lankan working people have a holly right to commemorate the International Workers Day for the sake of the struggle of all working people around the world.
By now, the working people’s demands have been continuously unheeded by the rulers. The gigantic sounds of the bombs of extremists, have subjugated the voices of workers against for their lifetime exploited conditions. Even today, the working peoples mouths would be echoing the last words those spoken by the workers’ leader ‘August Spies’ just before he was taken to the gallows after crushing the Chicago working struggle by then rulers.
“The day will come when our silence will be more powerful than the voices you strangle today!”