Friday, May 1, 2015

International Workers' Day News from the Middle East


  • The cabinet has extended congratulations to Bahrain's workers on the International Workers' Day, expressing its sincere thanks and appreciation to all workers who have contributed to the nation-building process and to progress in Bahrain.

    The cabinet praised the efforts of workers and their trade unions in improving the work environment and preserving labour gains, calling on workers to keep up their endeavours to improve their performance and increase their productivity.


  • Qatar Charity (QC) has launched a campaign to honour local workers for their role in helping build Qatar, under the title “Greetings to Workers”. The campaign aims to offer official recognition for the ongoing efforts of workers in the construction of vital infrastructure projects in Qatar, by collecting personal care items and distributing them as gifts on the occasion of International Workers’ Day on May 1. The campaign targets 5,000 workers in Qatar, who will be presented with gifts that include a toothbrush, toothpaste, towel, comb, hand soap, shampoo, deodorant, socks, a cap and hand steriliser, helping contribute to the provision of a clean and healthy environment.

    QC has urged individuals and companies to donate to the campaign until April 30 by either purchasing the campaign’s gift box from commercial complexes (Villaggio, Hyatt Plaza and Landmark), filling it with the appropriate items and returning the box to QC to distribute to the workers, or via their mobile phones by sending an SMS to 92133 to donate QR25, to 92632 to donate QR50, or to 92642 to donate QR100. The gifts will be distributed to the benefiting workers from May 1 to 3. “The campaign falls within QC’s local development department’s strategy, covering three dimensions: social, economic and cultural, keeping us up to date with the National Development Strategy 2011/2016, as part of Qatar National Vision 2030.

    United Development Company (UDC), a leading Qatari shareholding company, has signed up as the gold sponsor of ‘Qatar Labors Rights Protection’ progress report book set to be released on May 1, which marks the celebration of International Workers’ Day. The book will be officially launched at a press conference on May 3 under the patronage of Qatar’s Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, Sheikh Abdullah Bin Nasser Bin Khalifa Al Thani and will comprise 350 pages of valuable and informative Arabic content which will be widely distributed locally and internationally to all concerned entities, said a statement.

    International Workers' Day News from Europe


  • Members of the National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU) have overwhelmingly voted to down tools for a two-hour march to the Dail on May 1, which is both International Workers' Day and the start of a bank holiday weekend. It is been hinted that this could be just the beginning of a long campaign stretching into the summer months and beyond. Bodies representing retailers in the capital last night warned that the proposed day of industrial action on May 1 against the Government proposal could have a negative impact upon the city's businesses ahead of the busy bank holiday weekend. Richard Guiney, CEO of Dublin Town, said recent research indicated that as many as "42pc of people" use the bus to reach the city centre to do shopping and spend an average of €63 each.


  • The Istanbul governor’s office controversially excludes Taksim Square from its list of places where it permits marches and demonstrations for May 1 celebrations, just weeks ahead of International Workers' Day, also known as Labour Day in some places. The move is likely to be challenged by labor groups, who have repeatedly demanded that demonstrations be allowed in Taksim. The public square is the most prominent square in Istanbul, and one that is symbolically important for workers. The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) had ruled that Taksim Square could not be closed to peaceful demonstrations.

    International Workers' Day News from Australasia


  • Unite is organizing a workers’ day rally in order to ask the government to stop subsidizing jobs at McDonald’s and Wendy’s. The union questions why McDonald’s and Wendy’s need government subsidies to hire staff on what union says will be zero hour contracts. What is more worrisome is that the workers have had their hours cut when the subsidy ends. "Sometimes McDonald's tells… staff they will get at least 30 hours a week. But after six months, when the subsidy ends the workers go onto a zero hour contract just like everyone else. …It seems the only time workers can get guaranteed hours at McDonald's and Wendy's is when they are being subsidised by the state.”

    It has been claimed that the zero hours regime is not a rostering mechanism but a tool to bully and abuse staff which shouldn’t exist in New Zealand.

    That is the message of the workers’ day rallies that will be holding today.

    International Workers' Day News from Asia


  • On April 26, it was reported in the news that South Korean department stores were beefing up marketing efforts to attract Chinese tourists ahead of the International Workers' Day holiday. Retail industry insiders said stores were moving to accept the Alipay payment system and scrambling to lure big-spender VIP customers. Alipay is China's largest payment system and makes use of specialized apps to conduct transactions. It has some 800 million users with annual payment hitting some 450 trillion won (US$417 billion).


  • The Democratic Action Party, DAP, said on Thursday, April 23, that its state, divisional and youth members have pledged to take part in the May Day rally, despite arrests and charges over previous Pakatan Rakyat-led rallies earlier this year. Its national organising secretary Anthony Loke said despite the mass arrests and charges in court, DAP members will rally against the newly implemented goods and services tax (GST). “Although there were 54 people who got charged… for participating in the anti-GST rally, that won’t dampen our spirit to take part in the May 1 rally,” he told Malay Mail Online.

    54 persons have been charged at the PJ Sessions Court for taking part in the protest at the Customs office in March. Loke said they will march from Jalan Sultan to the Maybank headquarters, and then will join others to march to Dataran Merdeka, and then towards Kuala Lumpur City Centre, KLCC. He said he expects a few thousand DAP members to show their support for the rally next Friday. “Malaysians need to rise and object to GST that is making our people suffer. In conjunction with Labour Day on May 1, let’s show the people’s power in rejecting GST, return the country’s economy to the right path and reinstate a quality life for the people,” he said.


  • In order to celebrate "Worker"s Day" on 1st May a group of intellectuals and social workers have organized a meeting at Zanana Park, Kathua. The meeting was presided by a social thinker and worker Master Shiv Nandan and attended by a large number of representatives of different organizations. While speaking in the meeting, Master Shiv Nandan told that "May Day", the first day of the month of May is celebrated all over the world with utmost importance and the day is also known as the International Worker"s Day which has a historic significance.

    Labour Minister Gopal Rai has said the Labour Department would launch a Labour Development Mission for the welfare of contract labourers on the International Workers’ Day on May 1.He asked all employers, including contractors, to upload the details of employees on their websites to ensure that minimum wages were paid to all categories of workers.

    International Workers' Day in Africa


  • The National Union of Namibian Workers (NUNW) officially announced that the official celebration of May Day, also known as International Workers' Day, on May 1 would be celebrated at the Kuisebmond Stadium in Walvis Bay. President Hage Geingob is expected to be the keynote speaker.

    During the week before the workers’ day, the NUNW will be holding its 6th ordinary congress.

    Trade Union Congress of Namibia (TUCNA) will deliberate on workers' rights issues at this year's Workers' Day celebration in L├╝deritz. The theme for the celebrations is: "Dynamic Workforce is a Must in These Trying Times". TUCNA, secretary general Mahongora Kavihuha, says there are still challenges to fundamental human rights such as the right to strike and the federation joined its colleagues across the globe to tackle this anomaly. Kavihuha says the association has interrogated the social dialogue regime in Namibia with a view of transforming it because they found out that it does not serve the purpose for the workers, employers or government. "As a result, we have carried out a comprehensive study with clear achievable recommendations," he says, adding that the federation is busy developing a bipartite position paper between the federation and Namibian Employers' Federation using the coalition study.


  • Trade unionists and democracy campaigners in Swaziland are on a collision course with the police and state security after they refused to seek formal permission to hold a May Day rally. The Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA) has confirmed that commemorations of the workers' day will take place at the Salesian Sports Ground in Manzini, the commercial capital of Swaziland, on 1 May 2015. Vincent Ncongwane, TUCOSWA Secretary General, said his federation had informed the police of its decision to host the event. The Times of Swaziland, the only independent daily newspaper in the kingdom ruled by King Mswati III, the last absolute monarch in sub-Saharan Africa, reported him saying, 'We will not be seeking permission from the police to host the event, it is unlawful to be forced to seek permission and there is no statute in the labour laws that allows the police to demand us to seek permission from them to host Workers Day.' He added the fact that they had informed the police was sufficient and that they would not be seeking permission as police had instructed them to do in past years.


  • The theme for this year's workers’ day celebration in Zambia is 'Promoting national economic growth through job creation, free collective bargaining and respect of workers' rights'.

    There have been sporadic calls for the boycott of workers’ day celebrations in that country. The Judiciary and Allied Workers Union (JAZWUZ) has joined the opposition United Party for National Development (UPND) in calling for a boycott of celebrations although it is unclear whether the calls will be heeded. JAZWUZ president Peter Mwale said that boycotting the event will make government aware that workers were unhappy about the wage freeze that has continued being in effect. Mwale said that they had not picked on the call by the UPND but had acted out of their own volition in calling for the boycott of May, 1 celebrations."The call for a boycott does not matter whether it has been called for by the UPND but I think we the labour movement should have led such calls because we have suffered for a long time," he said. "We have had a wage freeze and have not done enough to oppose it and if maybe we stay away from [workers’ day] the message will be taken seriously. "There has however been no backing call from the parent body the Zambia Congress of Trade Unions.

    International Workers' Day News from America

  • Ecuador

  • During a massive event with social movements and indigenous leaders in the town of Cangahua, in the outskirts of Quito, Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa promised he will raise a social security scheme designed for the informal sector workers. Speaking in front of 6,000 people, Correa called upon them to organize and march on May 1, the international workers day, in order to show the nation the government's popular support. The president's remarks come as the National Assembly (Parliament) is discussing reforms to the country's Labor Law which would modify the Social Security system to recognize homemakers' right to healthcare and jubilation, amongst other important changes.

  • Havana

  • Encouraged by the return to Cuba of the five anti-terrorists who were imprisoned for years in US jails and of the health professionals who fought Ebola in western Africa, nearly 60 thousand health workers will join the May Day march at Havana´s Revolution Square. The general secretary of the Health Workers Union, Doctor Santiago Badia said that the sector will be represented by over 300 thousand professionals in all activities throughout the island on May 1, International Workers Day. In Havana, the health workers will be led by the 33 professionals with the medical brigade that fought Ebola in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea.

  • United States of America

  • On Friday, May 1 — International Workers’ Day — the cranes for loading cargo at the San Francisco and Oakland ports will be still. The April meetings of both the Executive Board and membership of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 10 unanimously endorsed a call for “Union Action to Stop Police Killings of Black and Brown People.” A unanimously approved amendment called for the monthly union membership meeting to be held on the May 1 day shift and conclude with a march and a rally at Oakland City Hall, to demonstrate that the rampant killings by police are an urgent labor issue. The killing of young Michael Brown by Ferguson, Mo., police on Aug. 9 and the cellphone-videoed killing of Eric Garner by New York police on Staten Island galvanized a rainbow movement, led by Black and Brown youth.

    According to the Madison Industrial Workers of the World: Our predecessors managed to organize, act and gain victories before the Wagner Act in 1935, and they had things much worse than we do, even being literally massacred at times. We need to honor their legacy by learning from them and continuing the fight today. This year’s May Day rally and march will begin at Brittingham Park along West Washington Avenue at 3:30 p.m. Friday, with a march to the Capitol, where the rally will continue. Let’s use this as an opportunity to renew the fight!

    The Los Angeles County Federation of Labor is sponsoring a May Day rally at Dragon's Gate in Chinatown, calling for a $15 an hour wage, justice in communities of color, and no more delays for DACA/DAPA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents).

  • Canada

  • The sixth annual, labour-inspired MayWorks Windsor Festival gets under way Tuesday, April 28, with a Workers Day of Mourning.A MayWorks quilt, titled In Memory of Workers Killed or Injured on the Job, will be unveiled that day at Artcite Inc., 109 University Ave. W., in the Capitol Theatre complex, leading to a month of initiatives in May.May Day celebrations on Friday, May 1, will include an outdoor party at Lanspeary Park, a dance party at Milk Cafe, an installation at the downtown Windsor gallery, One Ten Park, and a workshop at Artspeak Gallery on Wyandotte Street East.An entire month of activities will follow, including art displays and music, with this year’s general theme of Our Windsor Stories. Several communities across Canada host MayWorks festivals to recognize the links between the labour movement and the arts.

    The West Kootenay Labour Council invites all residents of the Castlegar area to join them in celebrating International Workers’ Day on Friday, May 1. Local union affiliates are sponsoring a free barbecue lunch between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. at the Spirit Square in front of city hall.“Around the world, workers acknowledge May 1 as the day to celebrate gains made in working conditions, health and safety and wages and benefits,” said labour council president Gerry Schmon. “However, it is also a day to reflect on the growing inequalities in society, the erosion of public services that communities rely on and the gap in wages between men and women that need to be addressed,” he continued. “We celebrate the fact that when workers show solidarity in the face of oppression, we have the strength to make positive change. With increased attacks on democratic rights, our environment and our social networks, we need to solidify our commitment to protect the collective gains we made and protect our children’s futures.”

  • Costa Rica

  • Teachers’ unions will also cancel classes and take to the streets of San Jose… May 1st, on International Workers’ Day (Labor Day).

    Some 100 busloads of public school teachers from across the country will cancel classes and converge on San Jose on Friday as part of a strike over a laundry list of issues which union leaders blame on “neoliberal” policies put in motion by the Solis administration. The demonstrators plan to march from Parque La Merced to the Legislative Assembly. In a press release last week, the Association of Secondary Teachers, APSE, said that the strike would be the “beginning of a struggle” against a number of grievances, including “the anguish felt by thousands of workers to see their jobs and salaries in danger;” […] “corruption, dirty business, impunity, tax evasion, loss of sovereignty, environmental damage, repression, privatization of basic services, loss of labor rights […] all as a result of the application of neoliberal policies.

    International Workers' Day - In commemoration of Workers worldwide

    Today is May 1, 2015. Since 1886, May 1 has been used to commemorate workers all-over the world. On this day in 1886, in America, the American Federation of Labor organized militant actions demanding the right of all workers to an eight-hour workday. Workers walked off their jobs and withheld their labor from being exploited. Later, some eight labor organizers were framed by law and accused for a bombing at a rally at Chicago’s Haymarket square.

    Since then, May 1 of every day is being commemorated as the day of workers, the day when workers demand their right for good working conditions, for a better life and better families. Immigrant workers have also not being left out of the rallies.

    Today is the International Workers’ day. In some countries, it is not an official holiday but in many African countries like Nigeria, today is an official work-free day. It is a day for workers to reflect on labor rights, democratic rights and all other rights due them within the economic system they have found themselves.

    In some countries, rallies will be held with the support of the governments while in other countries, rallies might be held against official permits. In other countries, like in the United States of America, workers will celebrate this day quietly while still going about their tasks.

    Whatever the case may be, it is worthy to mark this date in your calendar if you work for a living.

    Over the days, I have collected selected news on the International Workers' Day celebration around the world in:
    • Americas

    • Middle East

    • Europe

    • Australasia

    • Africa

    • Asia