The far side of the Viharamaha Devi Park looked as if it had snowed the previous night. A closer look did reveal that the white spread was none other than the discarded regiform lunch boxes, thrown haphazardly by those who occupied the park premises the day before. There stood an isolated man with a broom in his hand, and started sweeping the mess left by those who celebrated the existence of his kind the previous day. This is the part of the celebration to where he belongs; He ought to be on stage, among the crowd, perhaps at the forefront, leading the way. Instead, he picks the garbage and erases the trails of the grand parades that thronged the Colombo’s roads.
For the majority of Sri Lankans, May Day is just another holiday on the calendar; a bonus break in the rainy weather. However, for those who are compelled to act the ‘people’s representatives,’ it is all about wearing bumble-bee sunglasses in public parades and making shallow-talk, in which the real owners of the May Day are right royally excluded.
No doubt, celebrating the May Day has passed many crossroads that once the socialistic ideologies had failed to shift from theories to practicalities, the celebration of workforce has lost its identity. Today, it lays little or no emphasis on the workers of the country, on whose shoulders lays the ultimate responsibility of driving the country forward. What has escaped the notice of the high heads and their supporters is that, more than the decision-makers it is those who act on them, that make development a reality. It is those who shed their blood and sweat in days and days of hard labour that makes sky-scrapers and flyovers, objects in the real world. And it is them, who were never being mentioned on May Day podiums, irrespective of the party to which the stage belongs.
A May Day rally today is a chance the political parties get to boast about their number of supporters. It is all about outnumbering the participants of the other political party. The question as to what really pulls the bus-loads of crowd to the capital besides the sentiments of solidarity remains to be answered. An onlooker who saw a rally marching towards Kanatte Junction, might wonder why the people were carrying posters of Ban Ki-Moon and holding placards that said, we were not scared of the Geneva verdict. Did the Geneva verdict have a line that said labour rights were not accepted, or were the placards leftovers from another protest march?
Another May Day has passed that gave airtime for the political parties to stand on a stage and make speeches that did not resonate the unheard voices of the workers. Their lives are by no means rosy. Their jobs do not grant them a high purchasing power. Instead of uplifting their living standards, the government attempted to snatch away their morsel of bread by laying its hands on their EPF. The rest of the 364 days were not written to be theirs. Now, this single day too…?
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