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Remembering Labor Day

The first ever Labor Day celebrations were on May 1, 1890 after its proclamation by the first international Congress of socialist parties which was held in Europe on July 14, 1889 in Paris, France. They dedicated May 1st of every year as the “Workers Day of International Unity and Solidarity.”

The date was chosen because of the events that took place in America, when in 1884 the American Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions demanded for an 8-hour workday that they asked to take effect on May 1, 1886. This resulted in a general strike and a riot at the Chicago Haymarket in 1886. After a series of events and struggles, the 8-hour workday was officially sanctioned.

The first Labor Day in the Philippines was observed on May 1, 1903, when thousands of workers marched on Malacañang, demanding fairer working conditions. Congress passed a bill recognizing the day as a national holiday in 1908 and the first official celebration of Labor Day took place on 1913.

More than a hundred years have passed since the first Labor Day celebrations were held and the world has changed massively since then. However, up to now, laborers are still fighting for better working conditions and a living wage.

The economic crises caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in the loss of many jobs while at the same time radically changing the employment landscape. As work from home and other hybrid arrangements have become the norm, the Labor Code also needs to adjust to ensure that both employers and employees are getting a fair shake and exploitation is prevented.

The world has not yet recovered from the pandemic and now Russia’s war in Ukraine and the international community’s sanctions against the aggressor adds even more challenges for employers and employees all over the globe.

With the world in flux, nations will need leaders who can shepherd their country. This year’s Labor Day serves as a stark reminder of the quality of leaders our country will need, especially at the Presidency and the Department of Labor and Employment, which has its work cut out for it during these difficult times that also present an opportunity to create a system that has the potential to better uplift the lives of both laborers and employers.

The fate of the nation’s laborers will depend on the quality and vision of the leaders we choose in the upcoming elections. Hopefully, we pick the right one.*

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