Amid an unprecedented lockdown necessitated by a pandemic, May Day took on a different meaning for the working class that is now battling job losses, pay cuts, likely extended working hours, and a host of other challenges they were not prepared for.
On Friday, the celebrations were marked by the struggles of surviving the COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath. The All-India United Trade Union Centre (AIUTUC) saw weavers, construction workers, ASHA workers, school bus drivers, and street vendors, among others, participate from home holding placards. An AIUTUC release also spoke about the plight of thousands of migrant workers who are being forced to walk back home for days on end, having lost work, some even losing their lives.
Central trade unions across segments, under the banner of the Joint Committee of the Trade Unions (JCTU), came together to mark the 134th May Day, urging the government not to extend the eight-hour working day.
“At a time when the unemployment rate is 23% in the country, it is only apt that the working day should be reduced to six hours to sustain, create employment, and revive the economy in general,” a JCTU release said.
Workers across different industrial areas such as Doddaballapur, Peenya, Bommasandra, Jigani, Hoskote, and Whitefield, as well as other unions, also marked May Day with flag hoisting ceremonies.
AITUC marked the day with a flag hoisting ceremony with the volunteers who are in the frontline of the relief work being undertaken by the trade unions by distributing food to migrant and construction workers in the city. A meeting resolved to defend the working class rights for income, job security, and to shorten the working day to six hours.