Today is the International Workers’ Day 2019 which is also called “International Labour Day” or simply “May Day.” The day is observed all over the world to respect the hard work of the working people with a national holiday in eighty countries. Now we will discuss about history and significance of ‘labour day.
International Workers’ Day 2019 Date
The theme of May Day 2019 is “United Workers for Social and Economic Advancement.” Labour day originated from the movement of the Labour Unions in the late 19th Century in the USA. The movement was against the exploitation of labour with reduced working hours without cutting the wage.
May Day history
Normal working hours for any country is now eight hours a day. But it was not the same during the industrial era of the 18th Century. Employers forced to work their workers from 12-15 hours a day in an unsafe environment. This caused injury, disability, and death to the many workers. No one was caring about the workers. The industry workers were like slaves. In 1860, American workers formed a Labour Union which was later known as the American Federation of Labour. The Union started a movement for the “Eight Hours work” without any cut in the pay. The theme of the movement was “Eight hours for work, eight hours for rest, eight hours for what we will.”
The movement was intensified in 1884 when workers of Chicago started raising their voice for reduced working hours. But no one was there to hear their voice. Finally, the labour union decided to give a deadline of 1st May 1886 to implement the “eight hours working day”. The industrialist was against reduced working hours. They used the police to torture the workers. While the deadline of 1st May was approaching, tension rose among the workers and industrialists. Chicago became the heart of the movement. Over 300,000 workers marched on the road on First May 1886, and the movement was on its peak, and a general strike was called.
Industrialists and Businessman tried to suppress the movement with the help of the police. The collision was inevitable. On 4th May 1886, workers gathered around the Hay Market to protest. An unknown person threw a bomb over the Police which killed seven police officer. Then the police started to fire to the crowd which killed an unknown number of workers.The killing of the workers agitated all workers in the country, and severe movement started in the USA. Eleven of the leaders and members of the union were held by the police and hanged after a miscarriage of the trials.
Labour Day 2019
In 1889, sacrifice and bloodshed of the workers were recognized in an international conference of the labour unions in Paris. They declared First May as the international labour day which was started to observe unofficially by the European countries and all states of USA. Eventually,May Day emerged as the symbol of struggle, honour, and solidarity for all workers of the world. In 1893, a Monument was established in the forest park where deceased union leaders were buried. This granite formed monument is known considered as the national historic landmark.
Interestingly, the USA and Canada celebrate a different day as Labour Day. In 1887, Oregon was the first state of the USA to declare public holiday on labour day in the honour of the labour movement of USA. By 1894, all states of the USA officially started to celebrate labour day as an official holiday. But the date is first Monday of the September which makes an extended weekend in the labour day holiday. The same thing goes to Canada as they celebrate the day on the same day.
May Day Significance
International Labour Day or International Workers Day is now celebrated all over the world. Over Eighty countries of the world have an official holiday on this date. For the celebration of the Labour Day, different organizations like Trade Union, Association, International Labour Organization (ILO) arrange different programs like rally, seminar, workshops. They spread the key messages of Labour Day among the people to aware them on occupational safety, the importance of holidays, flexible working hours, fair wage, safe working environment.
In a personal level, the celebration is to honour the sacrifice of the people who paved the way of standard eight hours for working day. Also, to appreciate the people who are working hard to make this world beautiful and livable. The day helps people to understand the importance of completing their task within the eight hours time frame to ensure proper mental health.