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Last Updated: Thursday, 29 April, 2004, 15:32 GMT 16:32 UK
Is May day still worth celebrating?
1 May, which falls this Saturday, is a day when workers around the world celebrate their contribution to society. And in many countries - in Africa and elsewhere - it is a public holiday.

South African workers protest against privatisation
The influence of trade unions in Africa has declined
But now, following the fall of the Communist governments in eastern Europe, and the increasing power of huge, capitalist multi-national companies, the influence of workers and their trade unions has declined dramatically.

So, is the celebration of a workers' day really nothing more than just a token gesture? How relevant is May Day in the 21st century?

Use the form to send us your views. A selection will be published below and will be broadcast on the BBC World Service's Focus on Africa programme at 1700 GMT on 1 May.


It is a holiday. we African's like our holidays. let enjoy a break, we suffer enough.
dil vashi, ndola/zambia

The workers especially in the Civil Service have nothing to celebrate because they have been cheated through insufficient wages. This is especially in African countries where ironically this day is celebrated with a lot of empty promises being heaped on the workers. And after all this it is the big shots who feast on the heavy receptions and lunches. Workers should boycott the celebrations as a sign of protest to their mistreatment.
Grace Nakigudde, Ohio, Cleveland USA

It does seem token, but worker's rights have never been more important, especially with the rise of Wal-Mart. I'll celebrate in my own way and try to educate my family and friends on the struggle that people died for so we could work 8 hours a day and 40 hrs a week. Never Forget
Rafael, Tampa, Fl

Workers of the world must unite to raise their issues of explitation under capitalism. Only when the a worldwide system - that exploits the workers while the fat-cat bosses profit - ends will the workers be able to 'celebrate' mayday. While workers are still dying on factory floors in sweatshops, while women face sexual assault, and queers persecution, Mayday will be a relevant day for the workers. Demand an end to capitalism, join your union and march for Mayday. United for the workers!
Duncan Pullen, Brisbane, Australia

The question is a most irrelevant one. So long the relation of capital and lobour will exist in this planet, celebration of May Day and hoistiong the red Flag indicating the final victory of working class towards class less society will reamin as a vital task of the oppressed section of the humankind.
Prasanta N Chowdhury, Calcutta - India

The same page that asks this question also has an article on the revelation on scale of slavery. Sweatshops and other unfair labour practices abound due to the economic deprivation of some and the greed of others. May Day doesn't just celebrate the contribution of workers, it's a day for Labour Unions and like organisations to press for favourable conditions for the common worker bee.
Wairimu, Kenyan

This day has lost meaning, in Kenya for example many of the trade union leaders lost their jobs, they do not have a voice let alone food on their tables. May 1 is just another day. Look at women, their labour is not valued even as they toil on the farms and labour. They are the majority of casual labourers in industries. Women are responsible for procreation yet no government, no one sees the need to measures in place that will help the women folk so that as they continue to do what God willed them to do, they have access to maternity care and they do not lose their jobs because they have to perform what God asked them to do. To procreate and provide the neceassary human reasource required for any development to take place.
Judith Akolo, Nairobi, Kenya

We should still celebrate Workers' Day boldly and loudly. We may be down, but we aren't out. We are strong, we are brave and we make everything happen. In solidarity. Jan Cornell Communications Workers of America
Jan Cornell, Charlottesville, VA USA

Whereas each May day brings less to celebrate, it should not be forgotten. Rather questions need to be asked as to why is it's significance deminishing. I can sefely say globalization and replacement of workers with machine is playing a big role. This however, is not sustainable as it concentrate wealth in the hands of a few. Rather than not celebrating May day should be a rallying point for the fight against transfer of wealth from the masses to a few wealthy entities.
Ndegwa Mahinda, Los Angeles, USA

Just because most of today's business is run through capitalism doesn't deem some of the geniune socialist ideas outdated or irrelevant.
Jeremy Sparks, Bristol, England

International Workers' Day is a necessary day of struggle. It is not, however, a day for the trade unions & other reformists -- it is a day where revolution is upheld, advanced, & struggled for. Look to Nepal if you want to know what it's really about (no 'token gestures' there...)!
Ali, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

May Day is as relevant as we want to make it. If we acknowledge that we are all workers and that it is our responsibility to work for the world that we would like to live in, I think that May Day could be something much more than a mere token gesture. Equality must come.
Ben Milano, Ft. Collins, CO

It is much more relevant today than before. As one can see basic rights of working classes are being undermined not only in developing countries but to some extent in developed countries too. The gap between rich and poor has incresed and international bodies such as WTO are being used to exploit and force poor countries to do buisness in terms dictated by richer nations.
chamunda kane, Senapati bapat road, Pune, India

Most relevant in that we must celebrate and protect the rights of workers. Their voice must be heard over the roar of "the increasing power of the huge, capitalist multi-national companies."
Jerome E. Pasela, St. Cloud, MN, USA

May Day celebration in the 21st century is only of historical importance. It has no economic significance for workers who have to cope with the dictates of neo-liberal capitalism. Perhaps finding ways of improving the 'free movement of labor' within and between regions may be more germane rather than having a holiday for its name sake.
Sigismond Wilson, Georgia, USA

The celebration of May Day is not only relevant, it is essential. It is precisely because, as you say, the influence of workers and unions has declined that the world should remember the struggles of the workers that came before us, and what those struggles have come to mean. To diminish the relevance or otherwise discredit such a symbolic day seems to come at the hands of those very capitalist multi-national companies you mention, in an effort to erode the united power of the average men and women workers. A Workers' day should know no colour, creed, or any other division between the people in the global community. Besides, if the United States can have such holidays as Columbus Day or "Bosses' Day", then surely the dedicated global workforce should have May Day.
Paul Hagen-Holt, California, US

I think it is wise to keep to some traditions. Workers should have more time off to be with their families. I am of the opinion we respect the tradition of May day celebration.
Uche, USA




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