Catholic workers rally on May Day celebrations in Dhaka (Photo Courtesy: Raphael Palma)
Catholics across the country observed International Labor Day yesterday, by calling for improved rights for workers and migrants.
In Dhaka, the Catholic Workers Association of Bangladesh, the Episcopal Commission for Justice and Peace and Caritas Bangladesh jointly organized a half-day program to mark the day.
About 150 domestic servants, beauty parlor and garment factory workers attended the program which included a Holy Mass, a discussion and a rally at St. Joseph’s Higher Secondary School.
“Chief guest Dr. Tarekuzzaman from the South Asian Program for Decent Work (SAPDW) said the government should ensure the rights of all, especially tribal people who are fighting for equal rights to land and for ethnic recognition.
Holy Cross Brother Bijoy Rodrigues, the school principal added: “Displaced migrants, both at home and overseas must be taken care of during times of need.”
Maria Hembrom, 17, a tribal Santal Catholic domestic worker said attending the event made her realize that Church does think and care about poor workers like her.
Meanwhile in Dinajpur diocese in northwest Bangladesh, the Church-run Novara Technical School gathered about 7,000 workers from various religions to mark May Day.
The day included a factory visit, games and a lucky draw.
“Everyone works for a living, but not all work with honesty, sincerity and dedication. St. Joseph, the ideal worker can help us become good and dedicated workers with social values,” Bishop Gervas Rozario of Rajshahi told the crowd.
Technical school director, Brother Massimo Catteneo, from the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions said his institution helps produce competent workers who also have social values. They also help protect workers’ rights in their workplaces.
Meanwhile, tribal Catholics in Bangladesh’s ‘tea capital’ in Moulvibazar district in the southeast of the country celebrated the feast of their patron in St. Joseph’s parish.
Holy Cross Bishop, Theotonius Gomes of Dhaka and former parish-priest American Holy Cross Father Frank Quinlivan offered Holy Mass for them and also handed out flowers and gifts.
Labor Day is of special significance in this area since tea workers are among most oppressed workers in Bangladesh.
The ‘caste-based occupation’ makes it difficult for them to study or choose other occupation.
As a result the parish has long been fighting for their rights regarding their education, faith formation and personal freedoms.
Catholic Workers Observe Labor Day By Reflecting On ´Decent Work´