Hats off on Labor Day to the Arab worker! Celebrating Unappreciated Jobs
May 1, the day of the working man, and woman of course, is upon us. In the Middle East, the 1st of May, 2012, 'Labor Day' is a chance to shift our attention to the working class man or woman (leaving Mona Eltahawy crying misogyny aside), as we tip our hats off to the daily work that surrounds us. May 1 is a national holiday in more than 80 countries, offering workers some deserved respite and often a long 'bank holiday' weekend break, and is marked by many members of the Middle East. Continue reading below »
International Workers' Day or May Day, if you're outside the US (where 'Labor Day' is held on the opposite side of summer, from the global spring affair, in September) is a celebration of labor movements and left-wing worker politics. The charming spring date champions the working man. While mainly attributed nowadays to an official or public holiday for workers, it traditionally sees organized street demonstrations and marches by working people and their labor unions, around the globe.
This year, the day that historically rallies around the working man, looks to be a poignant moment to consider the many job-less work-force and labor force facing hardships in times of austerity in the Middle East and Europe.
Europe's May Day (also a pagan spring-time date) has traditionally seen some spirited marches, and in London the day has often escalated into violent rioting that tends to protest capitalism. This year, post Occupy 'All' Streets, the mood may be particularly charged. Middle Easterners do not need more pretext or call to protest in the form of a 'holiday' with a history of demonstrations in the name of people power. This public holiday was originally given rise to by Europe's proletariat movement, and today the occasion steals the opportunity to protest the rise of Capitalism.
Keeping it Middle Eastern, it seems fitting that we shift our global tuned eyes to the under-appreciated traditional workers in Arab society. We pay tribute to the labor intensive work performed under the scorching Arabian heat, to the silent man who lugs the crates or barrels of gas door to door in your neighborhood. From the coffee man on a street stall, or hands filled to the elbow with decks of cups, to the modest bread-seller with his 'Ka'ak' cart. Or the ubiquitous falafel-maker or still more prevalent the 'garbage disposal' men in orange, or the Gulf-dwelling construction workers who make up a whole army or labor force whose job is unremitting as the sun they work under.
These workers bear out that there are good works done on the Arab street daily, and that we should honor and celebrate these on May 1st at least, if not daily in our own generous Arab ways!
This series of 'occupations' presented in the proud panel above pertain less to political conflict or disputed land, and more to celebrating the simple values of hard work along the Arab-scape. These defined job roles are deserving of a hat tip, a mark of respect, from us as customers, road-users and members of any Arab society.
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- Iranian Workers Stage Protest March to Mark May Day
- International Labour Day: many in Lebanon keep on working
- Because they're employees, not servants: domestic workers in Lebanon establish unprecedented labor union
- As Arabs celebrate Labor Day, Assad makes a rare public appearance