Labor Day; History and Significance

May 1, 2022

Labour Day also known as International Workers’ Day or May Day is a celebration of laborers and the working classes that is promoted by the international labor movement which occurs every year on the 1st of May.

History of Labour Day.
Labor Day, an annual celebration of workers and their achievements, originated during one of American labor history’s most dismal chapters.

In the late 1800s, at the height of the Industrial Revolution in the United States, the average American worked 15-hour days and seven-day weeks in order to eke out a basic living. Despite restrictions in some states, children as young as 5 or 6 toiled in mills, factories, and mines across the country, earning a fraction of their adult counterparts’ wages.

People of all ages, particularly the very poor and recent immigrants, often faced extremely unsafe working conditions, with insufficient access to fresh air, sanitary facilities, and breaks. The workers rose against this exploitation and demanded paid leaves, proper wages, and breaks for the workforce.

The Very First Labor Day:
The very first Labor Day was celebrated in New York City on a Tuesday, September 5, 1882. A picnic, concert, and speeches were held to mark the day. Ten thousand employees walked in a procession from City Hall to Union Square.

In September the holiday was moved to the first Monday shortly after the first celebration, the day we despite everything celebrate. The legislation was passed by Congress that made Labor Day an official holiday in 1894. Labor Day isn’t only a day to celebrate workers’ achievements; it is likewise a day for specific individuals to speak about their issues and find ways to get better working conditions and salaries.

May Day celebrates the contribution and sacrifice of workers to and for society. May Day is synonymous with workers’ struggles and subsequent empowerment in the late 19th century. The day’s importance dates back to the times when workers in the United States started protesting against draconian labor laws, workers’ rights violations, poor working conditions, and dreadful work hours.

In the context of Nepal:
Labor day in Nepal is called Mazdoor Diwas. Labor means majdur. Day means here diwas. It is a huge celebration in Nepal as the whole world celebrates it. The government of Nepal gives the national holiday on this mazdoor diwas.

The date of Labour Day falls on May 1 each year, depending on the cycle of the moon. The Labour Day celebration actually runs for one day. Labour Day 2021 will be on 1st May. According to Nepali Calendar, Labour Day 2078 will be on 18 Baisakh. Every year May 1, Labour Day falls in the world. May 1 is world labor day.

Nepal features a labor force of 16.8 million workers since 2017, the 3rd highest in the world. Millions of men work as unskilled laborers in foreign countries. They are working, leaving families, agriculture, and raising children with women alone.

Most ladies of working age are utilized in the agricultural sector, of which official insights are ordinarily ignored or underestimated commitments. Some of the women working in legal industries even face discrimination and a significant wage gap.

Talking about the child labor force, Nearly 50 percent of all children are economically involved, and a half (nearly a quarter of all children) are child laborers. Millions of citizens, men, women, and children of both genders, in slavery-like conditions are utilized as bonded laborers.

Both at the corporate and regional levels of government, Labor unions have played a significant role in acquiring better working conditions and workers’ privileges, Worker-friendly labor regulations, supported by trade unions as well as business owners, are a prime basis for improved working conditions and a stable future for workers.

However, their execution is severely lacking in practice. There is a substantial brain drain among the highly trained, which presents a significant obstacle in meeting the country’s demand for skilled labor.

Types of Labour in Nepal:

A) Child labor
Brick factories in Nepal are viewed as a center for child labor. As indicated by a recent report, the 1,100 brick factories across Nepal employed nearly 300,000 children.

Some kid workers are working under bondage conditions. This is mainly in the Terai agricultural sector and the households of affluent families all through the nation. Charuwa is a type of child work that is especially common in the Terai locale of Nepal.

This has utilized the children as cattle caretakers, who work as long as 16 hours a day with no educational opportunity.

Kamlaris, the young girls from western Terai who are utilized as household assistants, who have been auctioned off to rich landlords by their families, in a tradition now officially banned, however, exists due to extreme destitution in the affected families, face inhuman living conditions, violence and harassment.

B) Woman labor
– Bonded labor
Kamaiya-Kamlari system
In western Nepal, kamaiyas are referred to as male workers, usually from Tharu or Dalit caste classes, bonded to a landlord owing to debt whose interests mount at a rate higher than the laborers’ wage can be paid; subsequent generations inherit the indebtedness because the debt is never paid.

Kamlaris are called more younger ladies, as more youthful as six, who’s purchased as obligated workers to higher-caste, land-proudly owning households for debt reimbursement via way of means of their mother and father. The kamlaris become captives to the landowner for the span of the agreement. And meanwhile, the payment is made to the parents and is subjected to violence and attack.

Haruwa-charuwa system
In the Terai, the Haruwa-Charuwa system utilizes many bonded laborers incorporating indebted people referred to as haruwas, who are used to care for farms, mostly in debt payments or under unfair contracts to plant, grow and harvest crops.

Their wife and children are likewise compelled to work for the landlord as domestic workers, cattle rearers and farm-helpers, and children, generally of the haruwas, utilized as charuwas, dealing with the cattle, cleaning the stable, draining and selling milk, gathering grass and grain, grazing the cows.

Haliya system
Haliyas are taken as contracted laborers in western hill farms. They are forced to work for different landowners as they are landless and are compelled to incur debt from landlords for their livelihoods, which they can never wholly repay because of the rates at which they collect interest. The entire family is bonded to the landlords, and for some ages, the obligated status is passed from father to son.

Immigrant labor
The Indians form the majority of the immigrant labor force. In recent years, there has been a rise in the number of immigrants from South Asia and elsewhere seeking a work permit for employment in highly skilled occupations.

Labour laws:
– Minimum wage

The Social Security Act that came into force in 2017 fixed the wage of labor. The minimum month-to-month wage at Rs 13,450, daily the lowest pay permitted by law at Rs 517, and an hourly least at Rs 69 for industrial employees.

Minimum additional entitlements incorporate provident fund and gratuity contributions worth 18.33 percent of basic salary, festival benefits worth 8.33 percent of basic salary, as well as expected improvements to maternity assistance, health and accident insurance, bringing the overall minimum additional entitlements to around Rs 2500.

Worker safety and welfare

Any company with more than 20 employees must establish a worker-represented Health and Safety Committee. Enterprises with more than 50 employees are required to have a breakroom and canteen. At the same time, for organizations with more than 50 female laborers a child care center is mandated either without anyone else or mutually with another.

Foreign workers:

A business that employs foreign workers, is not over 5 percent of the total workforce. A labor permit may be issued from the Ministry of Labor for a period of 3 to 5 years relying upon the degree of ability, with the prospect of an extension of up to two more years.

Labour unions and worker rights

The historical backdrop of laborers’ rights developments and trade unions in Nepal begins with the Biratnagar Mills Workers’ Association, which had the option to sort out a strike for the first time on 4 March 1947 under the activity of the Democratic Revolutionaries of the Nepal Congress and the Communist Party of Nepal.

This was the beginning of the revolution for democracy that successfully toppled the Rana regime and established a constitutional monarchy in 1951.

For the time being, they succeeded in persuading the Rana government to raise their salaries by 15 percent, and maximum pay for the strike’s duration.

All Nepal Trade Union Congress and Nepal Trade Union Congress were formed by splitting the union after the establishment of democracy and quickly polarized during the cold war as leftist and non-leftist. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, many independent workers’ unions were formed in the tourism, transportation, and hospitality sectors.

The General Federation of Nepalese Trade Unions (GEFONT) was founded by most of those independent workers’ unions on 20th July 1989.

By 1996 the CPN UML associated with GEFONT and Nepal Congress associated with the Nepal Trade Union Congress (NTUC) were the main two perceived worker’s union confederations.

In 2006 after the accession of the Maoist party, its member worker’s organization, as the third biggest worker’s guild confederation The All Nepal Federation of Trade Unions (ANFTU) started the harmony procedure. By and by, GEFONT and ANFTU are arranging a merger following the merger of CPN UML and CPN (Maoist Center).

Trade unions collaborate with investors, NGOs, INGOs, and the government to establish worker safety programs, legislation, rules, and regulations.

May Day is a national public holiday in Nepal since 2007 though it has been celebrated in Nepal since 1963.