May 15, 2022

May Day: A Source of Inspiration

S Veeraiah

TELANGANA state committee of CITU had given a call for a ‘Mayday week’ from May 1. An effort was made to reach non-unionised workers, especially migrant workers from north India. An attempt was also made to counter the communal agenda and to emphasise the importance of working-class unity. Wherever the call was implemented in the true spirit, it has given enriching experiences.

As we all know, May Day has attained more and more importance in the background of the attack on labour laws in the interest of the capitalist class. On the other side, the communal forces are trying to project Vishwakarma Jayanti as a counter to May Day.

According to mythology, Vishwakarma killed his son Dadheechi, made a diamond weapon (vajrayudha) with the backbone of his son and presented it to his employer, Indra. It gives a message that the working class should sacrifice anything in the interest of the employer.

The ruling classes have been trying to dilute the spirit of May Day for a long time. They used to declare Mayday as a holiday, treating it as a day to take rest and enjoy with the family and friends. But some time later, they stopped that practice. They are announcing awards to trap the trade union leaders. The managements are encouraging caste associations against trade unions to weaken the worker's unity. The feudal impact is also there on workers. They are offering coconuts, agarbathis and kumkum to the red flag on Mayday in some places like offerings made to god. Reformist union leaders are doing the same in the name of workers' wishes, but it is spreading to other unions as well.

Ruling classes are happy if workers are influenced by such trends. Already, Gandhi is made a god and on independence day, people are putting Gandhi's photo on the national flag pole and offering coconuts etc. A temple is also being constructed for Gandhi, near Hyderabad, in the Nalgonda district. Ruling classes encourage such practices to dilute the anti-imperialist spirit and traditions of the national movement. 

The CITU has decided to build an alternative culture. Working-class should reject feudal and capitalist culture. Consumerist culture is also affecting the working class. At many places where proper preparations are made, and workers are explained in perspective, they stood away from breaking coconuts, offerings and religious practices at the red flags.

During this ‘Mayday week’ workers belonging to other unions, doctors, lawyers and other progressive persons in the residential areas of the working class were also reached out. Committees were constituted that collected funds to organise sports, games, cultural activities along with seminars. These committees erected temporary pavilions and martyrs’ columns. Many workers visited the martyr  columns and paid

Hundreds of non-unionised workers, migrant workers and family members of the working class visited and saluted the martyr columns. Many of them participated in sports, games etc., irrespective of their caste, religion, region, or language. In some places, leaders of many colony associations, and leaders of other trade unions, including company-level union leaders from BMS also visited. Many workers came to pavilions to explain their problems and asked for help.

Generally, it is the practice that the union president or general secretary will hoist the flag. It is very rare to have women leaders in such positions. Naturally, in maximum places, men used to hoist the flag. But this time a special effort was made to see that women comrades do it. In many places, women office bearers of the union or senior women workers hoisted the flag where the majority of workers are male. All these activities gave a festive mood to the workers and their families.

These activities gave confidence to the migrant workers wherever they participated. Some managements threatened the workers not to visit the pavilions. But workers informed the same to CITU leaders and maintained contact. Closing ceremonies at the end of the week also were conducted in a festive mood and fighting spirit with rallies, public meetings, cultural activities and prize distributions. Martyr columns and photos of heroes are lifted from the pavilions and carried on the shoulders of workers in rallies to the office.