The annual celebration, since its humble beginnings in 1882, has not
missed out in paying tribute to the valuable contributions and sacrifices of
the working class all over the world.
While from its early years up to the present, the regular observance of
Labor Day has always been marked with an augmentation of token
parades, festivities and political speeches, its original narrative of
recognizing the blue collar workers and their rights has remained true, even if, nowadays, these are only perpetrated on the surface.
Unfair relations, both in terms of wages and work conditions, have
persisted through the ages and despite the continued symbolic honoring
that it has been afforded with, the odds have always been against the favor
of the labor sector anywhere.
Now with the closure of many industries and small businesses, and
together with the massive work stoppage that followed, it is highly inferable
that the plight of workers has become anything other than worse
everywhere. With all these dire consequences of the Corona virus
pandemic, isn’t it then so ironic that the world pause to celebrate Labor Day
under this very setting?
The harsh reality alone of having to fend for family and love ones, in the
midst of a life-and-death situation, without employment, and little or no
money, is indeed the nightmare that greets the working class during today’s
In this time of COVID-19, let us likewise consider in particular the atypical
position of the essential workers. These are the ones who continue on as
skeletal crew so that everyone else could be in quarantine, on lockdown, or
at home safe. Unlike their majority counterpart and co-workers who have
been forced to stop working and stay home, their unique disposition as the
remaining wage earners, while others have left, can never be viewed as an
For one, they put themselves at risk everytime they are out there. These
security guards, janitors, fish vendors, store and pharma clerks, garbage
men and many others who do the dirty work to maintain society’s ever
turning wheels, do so in the shadows. Unknown to many, they continue to
serve despite the ever-present danger of contagion, and just like their
stagnant peers, they remain underpaid with a trifle of rights, extremely
overworked and largely underappreciated.
In the end, a new” perspective begs everyone’s recognition. In truth, it is
sadly nothing but the original definition of what Labor Day had been
intended for that is beyond tributes alone. The yearly milestone should
mark, not merely celebrate the fact that society has a mandate to come up
with a constantly progressive initiative aimed to improve the overall well-
being of the worker.
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