As succinctly put by the ancient Greek Dramatist, Sophocles, without labour, nothing prospers, confirms that for any organization to achieve its set goals, the propelling strength is in the workers who dedicate their time and skills in ensuring the progress of society in their varied endeavours. Thus, the biblical saying that the labourer is worthy of his reward” (1Tim.5:18), including a time out to unwind; is apt, to commemorate workers and giving them their right and proper rewards in appreciation for their efforts.
Workers Day otherwise known as Labour Day or May Day evolved due to the demands of the American Federation of Organised Trades and Labour Unions, for an eight-hour (8am to 4pm) workday in 1884. Their demand resulted to a general workers strike and the riot at the Haymarket square, Chicago in 1886. Then on July 14th May 1889, the International Congress of Socialist Parties in Europe declared May 1st annually as Workers Day of International Unity and Solidarity, which started the first celebration in 1890 internationally, to celebrate workers.
Although some countries celebrate Labour Day on other dates significant to them, for example, the United States marks its Labour day on 1st Monday of September annually, in Nigeria, Workers Day was first declared in 1980 by the People Redemption Party (PRP) in Kano State and on May 1st 1981, the first public holiday was declared to celebrate workers, thus, making it an annual event nationwide. On May Day, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Organisations gather to celebrate their relevance, resilience and hard work devoted to nation building. Likewise, Labour Day in Bayelsa State has always been celebrated with pomp and pageantry, as march pass, lectures, awards and other social activities are held. Successive administrations uphold workers as the engine room of government, hence, their consistent commitments to workers welfare, in a bid to motivate them in the discharge of their duties.
Over the years, various governments in Bayelsa State have sponsored trainings programmes designed to build capacity and enhance productivity, different public service reforms and verifications have also been held at different levels to create efficiency among workers. Similarly, the present administration of Sen. Douye Diri, tagged Prosperity” government has further displayed commitment to workers welfare, by ensuring prompt payment of salaries, payment of weigh-in allowances to media personnel, payment of gratuity, recognition of the minimum wage and the harmonised pension scheme. These are pointers to improve the wellbeing of workers, as well as governments commitment to encourage friendly working relationship.
While the efforts of government are commendable, it is pertinent to note that more has to be done to improve the welfare of Bayelsa State workers, especially in the area of security, health facilities, training programmes, holistic housing scheme to curb deficiency in the housing sector, and a deliberate searchlight on education sector and local government areas, so as to sustain the productive partnership between government and workers in the state.
Min. of Information, Orientation and Strategy, Bayelsa State.