A word from the Editor-in-Chief: The message of May Day

Enayetullah Khan
Wednesday, April 26th, 2017
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May Day, that movement of the struggling masses that was to change history, is only days away.


The observance of the day annually is essentially a journeying back to the sacrifices made by some brave men in Chicago in 1886 in defence of their rights as workers. That these men summoned the courage to let the world know that the pursuit of happiness in life came from a sharing of the world’s resources is a tale we celebrate this morning. And we do that because it was these men who instilled in all of us the idea that struggling for a cause affecting the collective body of people is the noblest act that people can undertake. Since that supreme sacrifice in Chicago, the idea has grown that it is through a constant reinforcing of courage and a clear understanding of contemporary realities that societies can move forward.


Nowhere is the lesson of May Day more significant than in Bangladesh, for it is here that workers and peasants have historically waged long, desperate battles to claim for themselves a niche in the wider community. These are men and women who have carried, with others, our nationalistic struggle of the 1960s forward. And again they did not flinch from linking up with the War of Liberation in 1971 to ensure for the nation a life to be lived in liberty and with a full application of the potential for progress. That May Day is for us, indeed for others around the world, a summation of the thought that national development is fundamentally a guarantee of happiness and prosperity for those who produce the goods, in the factories and in the fields, is a cardinal truth we recall today.


And yet we note with concern that large sections of our working classes still struggle to make ends meet for themselves and their families. That tens of thousands of men and women have found opportunities to ensure square meals for themselves through employment in the ready-made garments sector is a truth we cannot ignore. Even so, every time workers of garment units take to the streets to demand their arrear payments, to ask for a better working atmosphere, we know that much more needs to be done to give these workers something of stability in life. Every time a child goes out to work in order to assist his family, we know there is yet a very long road we need to travel for this child not to be compelled into premature adulthood through a lack of education and economic security.


Let May Day convey a simple message of how much more we can do to ensure for ourselves a well-ordered, economically viable society in Bangladesh. Ritual must give way to an effective transformation of society, through guaranteeing the happiness of those who ensure the continuity of the factors of production.

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