VIRTUAL CELEBRATION. Hello Nurses, it is Labor Day today. How will you celebrate it?
Over the years, the tradition of observing Labor Day globally has originated from the US. This occurred in the late nineteenth century, when Americans were working 10- to 16-hour a day in harsh and unsafe environments. Just business owners profited, while workers were subjected to unfair contracts. These conditions finally contributed to the May 1st walkouts in 1886, when approximately 300,000 laborers protested all across the country. Much of the struggle resulted in the 8-hour work day and the subsequent advancement of labor rights in the decades that followed. Many other countries quickly followed suit, establishing their own labor rights.
Labor Day is observed on May 1st in the Philippines to honor a related battle in 1913. The majority of Filipinos at the time were manual laborers who served twelve hours a day, seven days a week. This reached its peak on May 1, 1913, when 36 trade unions staged a strike on one of Manila’s busiest streets.
Labor Day has become a national holiday in the Philippines, almost a century since the first demonstrations. Since it comes during the summer in the Philippines, many people use the holiday to take vacations and observe it differently. Other Filipinos use the date as a focal point for national protests and strikes in their respective capitals. With the presence of technologies and new leaders in the industry, farmers, fishermen, and other underserved labor groups are discovering new ways to express their grievances.
At present, as a way to celebrate Labor Day for nurses and other health workers, Philippines VP Robredo organized a “Labor Day online concert for health workers”, with the aim “to offer a rebreather”. Viewing stations will be set up at the National Kidney and Transplant Institute, the Quirino Memorial Medical Center, and other hospitals to enable on-duty frontliners and patients to experience the concert. This is undertaken with the hope of expressing respect and love, even if just for a short time and in a limited way, so that health workers know they are not alone in this battle.
While it was earlier mentioned that many people use the holiday to take vacations, approximately 6,523 jobs would be available during the Department of Labor and Employment’s (DOLE) 2021 Labor Day virtual job fair in Central Luzon, where nurses are needed. The job fair carries the theme, “Mayo Uno sa Bagong Panahon— Manggagawa at Mamamayan Babangon, Susulong!”
There is also a nationwide virtual job fair that will be conducted by DOLE. There will be about 567 employers from industries such as manufacturing, business process outsourcing, health services, retail, and construction.
These may only be some imaginative ways to celebrate Labor Day, but with the pandemic crisis and holiday celebration combining, are these planned celebrations the right answer to what nurses and other health workers are experiencing? There are labor issues, and nurses and other health workers are dissatisfied by their working conditions. The wage they are earning is insufficient to compensate them for their demanding activities and hazardous work.
The pandemic response has been inadequate. Vaccine procurement is a nightmare. Despite the variant spike, vaccine rollout is sluggish. There are several questions to raise. Do you believe there is a suitable way for nurses and health workers to celebrate?