On May 4, 1886, the strike by indignant and fed-up Chicago industrial workers set off a chain of events that ultimately led to you and I enjoying fundamental rights today. This includes an eight-hour work day, humane working conditions, and better treatment of workers.
In South Africa, workers who played a critical role in dismantling apartheid and who fought for equality in the workplace are honoured on May 1, every year.
I always take a moment to pause when special days, marked as public holidays, are celebrated in South Africa. Too often, we don’t appreciate the meaning behind these occasions, preferring to focus on the mini-holiday and a chance to relax. While I am not dismissing this, I believe we should take a conscious moment to be thankful for those who fought for us and who laid the foundations for what we take for granted today.
Our founder, Dr Kazuo Inamori, implored us to be less selfish and to be of service to others, so that future generations may benefit from our actions.
He said: “As human beings, we tend to think only of our own benefit. If we put our ego first and fail to be considerate of others, it will be difficult to obtain the support of those around us and our work will not go smoothly. In our daily work, we must control our minds and constantly ask ourselves if our decisions are righteous, rather than biased by our own selfish interests.”
Have you taken a moment to reflect on those who have made your work life smoother and more equitable? What contribution are you going to make for future workers? These are good questions to ponder on Workers Day.