May 1: History and significance of International Workers' Day

Every year, May 1 is celebrated as International Labour Day, also known as May Day, International Workers’ Day, or as Labour Day across the world. 

Let's take a look at the history of this day, and explore its significance:

In honour of workers

Known by many different names, Labour Day, May Day, ‘Antarrashtriya Shramik Diwas’ (India), 'Day of National Work' (Germany), 'Fiesta de la Exaltacion del Trabajo' (Spain), but the idea behind this day's celebration remains the same - honouring the working class. 


Why May 1?

This day is observed to celebrate workers' worldwide and their contributions, to the society. If you're wondering why this day in particular...This day marks the anniversary of Haymarket riots, and pays tribute to those who lost their lives in the historic riot.


What changed on this day?

Earlier, workers were subjected to 15 hours work days. On May 1, 1886, there was a strike in Chicago, called the Haymarket riots. This strike called for adopting 8-hours workdays. But a bomb was flung during the strike,  which led to the police opening fire on the protestors. This cost hundreds of labours, civilians, and police officers their lives.


When was it officially adopted?

1889 in Paris, a meeting was called by the Marxist International Socialist Congress to adopt a resolution on limiting worker hours to 8 hours a day. Following the adoption of this resolution, May 1 came to be celebrated as International Labour Day.


When did India celebrate its first Labour Day?

In India, the International Labour Day was first in Madras (now Chennai) on May 1,1923 by the Labour Kisan Party of Hindustan. 


Labour Day - a reminder of our responsiblities

This day stands as a reminder of the historic sacrifice and struggle of the people to bring equity and justice to the working conditions across the globe.

May Day calls on us all to not only celebrate the workers' everywhere but also help generate better job opportunities, protect the rights of workers, offer social protection, and improve working conditions for all.


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