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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Today Is May Day

Bank officers' body to mark May 1 as 'Demands Day'-Business Standard-01. 05.2014

Specific to body's demand is implementation of regulated working hours and five-day-a-week working schedule
The All India Bank Officers Confederation (AIBOC), a national body of banking sector officers, has decided to mark May 1, which is internationally observed as Labour Day, as Demands Day this year.

Specific to the body’s demand is the implementation of regulated working hours and five-day-a-week working schedule for the Indian banking industry.

In a statement, the AIBOC said,”The five-day working week will not have any impact on the customer service or any inconvenience to the general public in the midst of technology advancement and enhanced digital delivery of banking services.”

The body added that the RBI as well as many of the central/state government offices also work only for five days a week.
AIBOC said it had already represented the matter to the Indian Banks Association, Mumbai, and urged the government to consider its demands.

HAIL! MAY DAY 2014-By S.Srinivasan

We take immense pleasure in extending “May day Greetings” to all. May Day, the day to celebrate the liberation of workers of the world from slavery and a day of rededication to march towards higher goals.

It is 128 years since May First, 1886, the workers all over the world, recollecting their past, the glorious struggles conducted and the successes achieved, come out to the streets and celebrate the day with their brethren rededicating themselves for fulfilling the future tasks.

It all started when it was officially resolved by the Federation of Organized Traders and Labour Unions of the United States and Canada, that eight hours shall constitute legal day of labour from May First, 1886, and that it was recommended to labour organizations throughout their jurisdiction and that they so direct their laws as to conform to this resolution. Since then it was “May Day”. On the Sunday before May First the Central Labour Union organized a demonstration which was attended by more than 25,000 workers.

The May First strike was most aggressive in Chicago, which was at that time the center of a militant labour movement. Although insufficient, it was nevertheless a fighting movement, always ready to call the workers to action, develop their fighting spirit and set their goal not only on the immediate improvement of their living and working conditions, but the establishment of socialistic system.

On May First Chicago witnessed a great outpouring of workers, who laid down tools at the call of the organized labour movement of the city. It was the most effective demonstration of class solidarity yet experienced by the labour movement itself. The importance at that time of the demand – the 8-hour day – and the extent and character of the strike gave the movement significant political meaning. This significance was deepened by the developments of the next few days. The 8-hour movement, culminating in the strike on May First, 1886, became a glorious chapter in the fighting history of the American working class.

Every uprising of the workers would be matched by the manipulations of the ruling class, though workers impact the final victory. The victorious march of the Chicago workers was arrested by the then superior combined force of the employers and the state, determined to put down the militant leaders, hoping thereby to deal a deadly blow to the entire labour movement. The events of May 3 and 4, which led to what is known as the Haymarket Affair, were a direct outgrowth of the May First strike.

The demonstration held on May 4 at Haymarket Square was called to protest against the brutal attack of the police upon a meeting of striking workers at the McCormick Reaper Works on
May 3, where six workers were killed and many wounded. The meeting was peaceful and about to be adjourned when the police again launched an attack upon the assembled workers. A bomb was thrown into the crowd, killing a sergeant. A battle ensued with the result that seven policemen and four workers were dead. The blood bath at Haymarket Square, led Parsons, Spies, Fischer, and Engel to the gallows and the imprisonment of the other militant Chicago leaders. Such was the intensity of the counter measures of the ruling class all over the country. The second half of 1886 was marked by a concentrated offensive of the employers, determined to regain the position lost during the strike movement of 1885-1886.

One year after the hanging of the Chicago labour leaders, the Federation, now known as the American Federation of Labour, at its convention in St. Louis in 1888, voted to rejuvenate the movement for the 8-hour day. May First, which was already a tradition, having served two years before as the focal point of the powerful movement of the workers based upon a political class issue, was again chosen as the day upon which to re-inaugurate the struggle for the 8-hour day. May First, 1890, was to witness a nation-wide strike for the shorter workday. At the convention in 1889, the leaders of the A.F.L. headed by Samuel Gompers, succeeded in limiting the strike movement. It was decided that the Carpenters' Union, which was considered best prepared for the strike, should lead the strike, and if it proved successful, other unions were to fall in line. The significance of simultaneous international proletarian demonstrations was appealing more and more to the imagination and revolutionary instincts of the workers throughout the world, and every year witnessed greater masses participating in the demonstrations.

The response of the workers showed itself in the following addition to the May First resolution adopted at the next Congress of the International at Zurich in 1893:

“The demonstration on May First for the 8-hour day must serve at the same time as a demonstration of the determined will of the working class to destroy class distinctions through social change and thus enter on the road, the only road leading to peace for all people, to international peace”.

Sri Gopal Ghosh in his booklet Bharate May-Divas says:

“… When a strike demanding eight-hours’ working day had not yet taken place anywhere else in the world, at that time in 1862 the railway workers of Howrah had struck demanding eight-hours’ working day, 1100 workers participated in the strike. Though history does not record whether this strike was successful, Somprakash, a newspaper of that time did support this strike”

This strike of the Howrah railway workers, spontaneous and unorganized though it was can justly claim to be the first strike of the Indian working class engaged in a major industry. There are instances of strikes by palanquin bearers of Calcutta of an earlier period, but they were really stoppage of work and not strikes by workers engaged in a major industry.

The demand for fixing hours of working day in India was first formulated by Sapurji Bengali of Bombay in 1877. He had even drafted a bill on the basis of a proposed factory law, and had it distributed. A little before this Sasipada Banerjee of the Brahmo Samaj movement had already raised the demand for a factory law in many public and other meetings. As a result of all these agitations, the first factory law was drafted in India in 1881 and an 8 hour working day with an extra hour’s rest was adopted for the industrial proletariat. At that time as in England the general rule for work was from sunrise to sunset.

Even today the situation is no better. Even after a century and quarter filled with struggles and revolutions the class struggle continues.  Comrades the ruling class is repeating history, be it 1886 or 2014 the colour has not changed. The only difference is, in 1886 it was forced by the capitalist and now it is the turn of their influenced governments. Today even in the largest democratic country like India which is supposed to be by the people and for the people, the situation is no good. The government is still in the grip of capitalists leaving in lurch the larger interest of its people and the workers. In India also, we are observing the increasing attacks on public sector, huge concessions to the corporates but simultaneous attacks on the labour rights.

A data in  the year  2007 itself  reveals 40 individuals have been able to amass a wealth of  over 170 b $ but 40 crores of Indian people still live below the poverty line with a daily income of less than one $ ! Despite the Rupee dropping 14% against the US Dollar, it has been a good year for India’s rich.  The total wealth of India’s Top 100 increased in 2013 to US$ 250bn from US$ 221bn compared 2012, 46new millionaires found entry in the coveted list and 5 from the Rich List 2012 could not make 2013’s cut off mark of US$ 300m. On the other hand Poverty in India is widespread, with the nation estimated to have a third of the world's poor. In 2010, the World Bank reported that 32.7% of all people in India fall below the international poverty line of US$ 1.25 per day (PPP) while 68.7% live on less than US$ 2 per day. According to 2010 data from the United Nations Development Programme, an estimated 29.8% of Indians live below the country's national poverty line. A 2010 report by the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI) states that 8 Indian states have 421 million poor people more poor people than Sub-Saharan Africa. A 2013 UN report stated that a third of the worlds poorest people live in India.

Unemployment has become ‘AIDS’ of the Indian working class –wasting their lives away in underemployment and unemployment without any hope.  The global upheavals and set back received to the trade union movement all over the world has divided atomized and confused workers. The Indian working class is also caught in cross infection. Hence May Day 2014 message of preserving unity of working people irrespective of diversities in their   independent ideologies assumes significance and needs to be observed by all of us befittingly.

The tussle between the ruling class and the workers always remains. It is for us to stoke the fire alive by drawing lessons from the past and to continue our journey for preserving the hard earned rights of the workers by our predecessors.

The working class movement in our country too has been striving hard for the cause of toiling masses.   We continue to carry on the legacy of the May Day. We are the worthy successors to those pioneers who gave their life and living for making May Day a memorable day to the toiling masses. We stand for the solidarity of the working class and classless society free from exploitation and subjugation.  As an organization we strive to make our efforts worthwhile by our sincere and dedicated endeavours. We bring about new benefits and rights to our members, more particularly our comrades in the lowest strata. This year would witness more benefits to our members.

The only way to win the subsequent battles is planning for war along with others in the same predicament. There is no alternative to solidarity. And MAY 1st is an appropriate day –internationally – to remember what we are forgetting while collecting our pay & allowances. There can be no allowance in the issue of solidarity.

Let the spirit of May Day permeate among all of us with greater vigour.

With Revolutionary greetings
S.Srinivasan

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