•Labour leaders warn against religious sentiments
For the first time in the history of May Day celebration in Nigeria, the Organised Labour will decide today whether to hold the May Day celebration on Sunday or Monday following the uncertainty of Eid-El-Fitr (Sallah) celebration.
Globally, May Day, otherwise known as Workers’ Day is held every May 1, to among others, commemorate the riot and killing of workers in 1886 at hay Market Square, Chicago, USA, during the struggle for eight hours per day and 40 hours per week standard working hours.
However, this year’s celebration in Nigeria which ordinarily should hold on Sunday, May 1 is now hinged on the sighting of the new moon by Muslim leaders which will determine the day for the Sallah celebration and consequently, the May Day celebration.
According to Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, and its Trade Union of Nigeria, TUC, counterpart, if the new moon is sighted on Saturday, then Sallah celebration will be held on Sunday, while the May Day celebration will be shifted to Monday, May 2. If the new moon is not sighted before Sunday, then the May Day celebration will hold on Sunday, May 1, 2022.
A circular sighted by Vanguard from TUC to its affiliates, reads; “The May Day Celebration of this year cannot be certain due to the Sallah celebration that coincides with the May Day event. Thus, the two Labour Centres unanimously agreed to celebrate the event as follows: If Sallah falls on Sunday 1st of May, the May Day event will be on Monday 2nd of May.
However, if Sallah falls on Monday 2nd of May, then May Day will be on the 1st of May as usual.”
Unfortunately, this year’s Sallah appears to coincide with the May Day event. The Muslim faithful told us that the Sallah is not about going to the Mosque to pray on Friday or any other day, but that they have special places designated for Sallah prayers.
We were informed that the Sallah is like their Christmas where they put on their best attire among others. And after one month of fasting, on the Sallah day, they cannot put on May Day attire or even come for May Day rallies if the Sallah falls on this Sunday, which is May 1. In other words, many of them may not turn up for the May Day rallies.”
However, some Labour leaders are kicking against the arrangement, saying “This is very clumsy and confusing. We cannot wait until 30th April before deciding or informing members on the date of the celebration.
The governors and government officials need to be invited and arrangements for the venue of the celebration and others have to be made in advance.
“So waiting until 30th April to make a decision on the date is not favorable”, a labour leader complained. Another labour leader asked, “you want people to be in Abuja, for how many days and who will foot the bills? What about South-East where they hold a sit-at-home protest every Monday?
“Are they going to shift the May Day celebration to Tuesday for workers in those areas? We should avoid this strange and dangerous precedent of bringing religious sentiments into labour issues because it may backfire in the future. May Day is not a Nigerian event, but universal.”