The historic May Day was observed across the country as elsewhere around the globe on Tuesday with a pledge to establish the rights of workers, News Agencies report.
Trade unions and readymade garment (RMG) workers, professional bodies, socio-cultural organisations and political parties observed the day in the city and elsewhere throughout the country by staging rallies, bringing out processions, holding discussions, seminars and cultural programmes.
They also pressed for improving the working conditions with better wages and security for the workers.
May Day, also known as International Workers’ Solidarity Day, commemorates the historic uprising of working people in Chicago, of USA at the height of a prolonged fight for an eight-hour workday.
The day was a public holiday.
Labour and Employment Ministry organised a discussion programme at Bangabandhu International Conference Centre here marking the Day.
Speaking at the programme as the chief guest, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina urged both employers and workers to maintain cordial relations among them avoiding any mayhem in their workplaces. “I just want cordial relations to prevail between owners and workers.”
The Prime Minister also asked the workers not to engage in any anarchy at their workplaces by the instigation from any outsiders.
Later, the prime minister handed over assistance money to the family members of 10 workers who died or got injured during work.
Earlier in the morning, Labour and Employment Ministry arranged a rally, led by State Minister for Labour and Employment Mujibul Haque, from city’s Dainik Bangla point that paraded up to the Jatiya Press Club.
Shipping Minister Shahjahan Khan, president of Bangladesh Jatiya Sramik League Shukur Mahmud and secretary of Labour and Employment Ministry Afroza Khan also joined the rally.
However, BNP’s labour wing, Jatiyatabadi Sramik Dal could neither hold a workers’ meeting nor take out a rally in the city marking the May Day because of the denial of permission by the Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP).
Jatiya Sramik League arranged a discussion in front of Awami League central office on the occasion.
Jatiya Sramik Jote (National Workers’ Alliance) organised a rally at the city’s Bangabandhu Avenue marking the May Day,
Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal (JSD) President Hasanul Haq Inu, also the information minister, said, “It’s necessary to ensure minimum wage for workers so that they can lead a decent life.”
JSD general secretary Shirin Akhter, also a women rights activist, demanded a minimum wage of Tk 18,000 for garment workers saying, “Labour is not a cheap thing; owners should pay them the highest.”
Jatio Sramik Federation brought out a rally at Purana Paltan from where they demanded announcement of a new wage board for the workers, payment of their arrears and the implementation of the labour law to protect their rights.
Newspapers published supplements while radio and television channels aired special programmes highlighting the significance of the day.
On May 1, 1886, 10 workers were killed when police opened fire on a demonstration in the US city of Chicago near Hay Market demanding an eight-hour working day instead of a 12-hour shift. On the height of agitation, the authorities had to accept the workers’ demand and the eight-hour day has been introduced universally.
On July 14, 1889 in Paris, an international workers’ rally declared May 1 as the International Workers Solidarity Day in recognition of the Chicago workers’ sacrifice and achievement and since 1890, the day has been observed globally as the International Workers Solidarity Day.