Guyana, like other countries around the world, dedicate the 1st of May each year to pay homage to the hard work of the citizens of the country. On May 1st, each year, all businesses, banks, schools, etc. are closed, and the President addresses the nation paying particular attention to the upbuilding of the working class and those who toil relentless to enrich this great land of ours.
Indeed, Guyana has come a far way in recognizing the value of the working class. Having its earliest days sadly rooted in unpaid labor and severe human rights abuses, slavery was finally abolished in 1838.
After that, Indentureship saw colonizers paying East Indians Indentured Laborer a mere pittance. But through the constant struggles of determined visionaries, the conditions of the working class gradually improved. Unions to represent workers’ rights and prevent exploitation of the working class were formed. The Enmore Martyr Monument remind us of the struggles and sacrifices of our ancestors to secure better wages for the working class.
Nevertheless, the Post-Independence decline saw Guyanese fleeing harsh conditions in Guyana to foreign shores. Life in Guyana became worse than it was during colonial rule. The national currency went on a downward spiral. The GDP went on a free fall as sugar estates became less profitable and more problematic under local rule. Working conditions became more punishing and more poorly rewarded than in colonial time.
Indeed, Guyana has come a far way, but it still has a far way to go in ensuring better treatment, payment, and safety of its workers. Hopefully, we will soon see the light at the end of the tunnel as we put our heads and hearts together to improve working conditions for all Guyanese.
Happy Labor Day 2023!
Read More: National Holidays of Guyana