by Farooq Tariq
May Day 2009 in Pakistan is celebrated with a new
upsurge in labour movement. There are daily
demonstrations across Pakistan by various sectors of the
working class on the issues of shorter working day,
against contract labour and privatization. More and more
workers are now coming together to form the new trade
unions as a vehicle of struggle.
May Day 2009 in Pakistan will be marked with more
participation of workers across the country than the
years under military dictator General Musharaf.
International Workers Day, is commemorated in summing up
the milestone and victories attended by the working
class in their struggle to earn their due right. It is
with just pride and honor that they stand in defiance,
up against all forces conspiring to undermine their
right to life and dignity.
Since the early 19th century, workers in different
nations had opposed enslaved labour extending up to 16 -
18 hours a day. The organized efforts of the labour
movements of the United States then, initiated on the
campaign demanding a 10 hour work day culminated in
bringing about the now infamous struggle for the "the 08
hour workday". in 1884.
The struggle grew and spread across regions until it
engulfed the whole world as global workers movement.
Then, there came the campaign struggle in Chicago, USA -
the crowning moment of all - which was stamped in
history, paid in life of many a dear comrade. Thus 'May
Day' was recognized a global event, now celebrated as a
symbol of the rights and dignity of the working masses.
It then grew on to become the all encompassing movement
forbearing the socialist ideology that sought to defend
the rights, power and rule of the working class against
all forms of capitalist enslavement.
Therefore, the 'May Day' in our day, signifies the
expression of the struggle for the realization of the
dignity of the whole of mankind.
The working masses of Pakistan comprising the workers of
the factories and plantations, the fisheries, the
peasantry as of now engaged in great struggle to win
their rights for a dignified life are now faced with
even a greater and newer challenge coming up to this day
in May, this year.
We greet this May Day with the working class movement
around the world facing the challenges of a capitalist
system in deep crisis. The contradictions of the system
emerge as wide-open cracks visible to the masses in
their day-to-day struggle for survival. And working
people and the poor are heroically struggling in their
millions worldwide, against capitalism's 'solutions' and
for system change -- from the movements for democracy in
Thailand and Pakistan, to the workers strike movement in
France, to the movements for 'Socialism of the 21st
Century' in Latin America.
Meanwhile the global economic crisis has hit the country
with force, with a collapse in industrial growth
forecast for 2009 and a spiralling increase in
retrenchments and unemployment. The capitalist crisis
has hit the working class very badly. the government
response is "business as usual".
On May Day 2009, Pakistani working class has an
additional but most vital issue of the growth of
religious fundamentalism. This trend is dividing the
working class on religious lines and weaking the labour
movement in some part of Pakistan. The answer of
Pakistani state is repression of the whole population
living in the areas dominated by religious fanatics or
making deals with fanatics. The American imperialism
wants a military solution and is bombing the areas. We
condemn the both. We must build a peoples movement
against religious fundamentalism and imperialism.
Religion must not be part of politics and the state. It
must be a private matter of an individual. The labour
movement of Pakistan must disassociate its self from any
trends that is promoting religious fanaticism among the
workers. They must organize themselves on class lines.
We are totally oppose to the policies of present
civilian government of Pakistan Peoples Party that is
pursuing new liberal agenda and continuing on the
footsteps of the policies adopted under General Musharaf.
Workers demand an end of privatization, a minimum wage
of Rupees 12000, end of discriminatory labour laws,
unemployment benefit for all adult unemployed, reduction
in military expenditures and saying no to foreign debts.
As we develop our tactics and strategy, we are well
aware of the need to draw lessons from the advanced
movements for system change and socialism in Latin
America, especially Bolivia and the "Socialism for the
Twenty First Century" movement in Venezuela. We
acknowledge, with deep admiration and respect, that
these developments in Latin America would not have been
possible without the survival of the Cuban revolution --
a superb and heroic record of fifty years.
Today we live in special times. As we face the
tremendous challenges ahead, at the same time we have a
historic opportunity available to this generation, to
advance towards a socialist alternative.
This means that we can and must put forward the
socialist alternative through concrete demands that the
people can understand, while at the same time pointing
to the need to struggle for system change. The challenge
is to put forward socialism as a living theory and
movement, one not mired in dogma and schemas. This
approach will surely help us build the Socialism of the
Long Live May Day!
Zindabad International Working Class Unity and
Long Live Socialism!