The American Baptist minister and activist Martin Luther King Jr. once said that all labour that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.
Surprisingly, the irony of celebrating Labour Day in modern times has reversed the need to appreciate the achievements scored by workers who spend too many hours and days on the job.
Labour Day founders, in the late 1800s, envisioned something very different from what the day has become today.
The founders were looking for two things: a means of unifying union workers and a reduction in work time and abuse of workers.
It is now sad that Labour Day has been reduced to an annual holiday where employers and employees fail to address pertinent labour-related issues mostly affecting the working class.
Labour Day should at the moment reflect on challenges facing the job market and invariably offer solutions on how to improve the conditions of service.
This state of affairs also attracts the relevance of the labour movement in the country and their mandate to serve the interests of the working class.
Poor wages, non-payment of salaries on time, lack of safety outfit for those working in the construction sector, limited capacity to carry out inspections in industries, among others, remain a huge challenge facing the working community.
Reports abound where an average manufacturing worker still toil in a factory more hours than was stipulated by labour laws yet we are at home bewildered with the abuse of the local workforce by profit-inspired business owners.
It has become invisible for some union leaders and other stakeholders to focus on winning a shorter eight-hour work day — getting workers more days off, such as the Labour Day holiday, and reducing the workweek days.
Instead of spending more money on traveling, entertainment or dining out by those privileged who at times parade themselves as having been in sessions deliberating the plight of the workers.
Many politicians and business owners should not fail to see the need for workers to earn enough money to sustain the needs of their households, beyond daily needs of affording access to basic social services.
That is perhaps one reason why it has become important for businesses to find consumers interested in buying the products and services being produced in ever greater amounts.
Shortening the work week was one way of turning the working class into the consuming class.
Against this, we should attempt to marry the Labour Day activities with befitting programmes that revolve around honouring the contributions and resilience of the working class.
As we plan to celebrate the Labour Day, it is only hoped that through labour and painful effort that has been directed to meet the work environment demands, workers should always be assured of better things from their toil.
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