08 A 21st century work ethic - Adrian Rosario

posted Apr 25, 2018, 8:46 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Apr 25, 2018, 8:46 AM ]
The origin of Workers' Day

During the early years of the Industrial Age (post the Industrial Revolution), men would work in factories and workshops for 14-18 hours per day. The foremen (precursors of modern day supervisors) would ensure mass production in these sweatshops, where one understood the meaning of the term "blood, sweat and tears"! The struggle of the workers for an 'eight-hour workday' culminated in a Chicago demonstration on May 1, 1886; the story goes that the police opened fire on the demonstrators, thinking they would be dispersed easily. But one can be pushed to the limits only so much; that day, the protestors continued to march. One of them dipped his shirt in the blood flowing in the gutters, and holding the reddened shirt aloft, he encouraged the others to keep marching for their rights! That was how the red flag made its debut – the symbol of workers' struggle for their rights! Since then, May 1 has been celebrated as International Workers' Day. The Church has also acknowledged this by honouring St Joseph as the patron Saint of workers on May 1.

The situation of workers today

It is 2018, and the modern-day sweatshops where people work 12-16 hours a day are alive and well! Some work in AC comfort with a plethora of benefits, and they justify their long working hours to themselves (and others) in a variety of ways: "It's the norm nowadays; everyone does it!", "My boss will notice me working hard, and I shall get my increment/promotion", "My work is very important", "I am indispensable" and so on.

There may be others who work in sweatshops where they have no benefits; where they work in conditions resembling slavery. There are people who work in 'organisations' for Rs 800/- to Rs 1500/- per month; some even in so-called NGOs.