International Labour Day : Learn More History, Facts

The labor’s day is also known as May day as it’s celebrated on May 1st. World over this celebrated by the working community and laborers. Every year on this day, a public holiday is declared, since its spring in many parts of the world, a spring festival gets organized. It is commemorated as International worker’s day as well.

In the beginning, when trade unions and labor movements came into formation, they felt the need to have a day for labor. They were fighting for minimum wages, 8-hour shifts, and other necessary facilities. A tragedy occurred wherein a peaceful protest turned ugly and led to a lot of casualties that weren’t part of the plan. The police and justice took it out on the people, and injustice was served on the innocents as well, which caused a considerable uproar. And a need to bring it out in the open to the international community about it.

This event occurred in May and was known as the May Day riots. Party organizations and trade unions participated in the rights of the laborers and made sure all workers needed to stop work on May 1st. Many countries across the world make it an elaborate affair where you can see workforce parades, including a display of military hardware and soldiers march.

In India, this day is also tied to labor movements, which were first commenced by the communist and socialist parties. Though it’s not a national holiday, it still is celebrated as a public holiday. Every state in India has named the day in their respective language signifying labor day. The first-ever labor day was celebrated in Chennai (previously known as Madras). The red flag symbolizes the labor union, and it was the very first time it was used in India.

A parade is usually conducted in some states to commemorate May 1st. Each state has its very own symbolic gesture, and special places in the state are allocated for these marches or parades. Eventually, over the years, India declared May 1st as a national holiday.

In America and Canada, labor’s day is celebrated on September 1st. There are some countries which don’t declare May 1st as a national holiday but may give a holiday only for the workers. In China, the labor day holiday has to be compensated by working on the previous weekend or the next one.

There are banners made, which sometimes can turn political, and there are also some radical groups in the worker’s union that have their own agenda. Yet you also find there is jovial participation by others who are marking the day dancing around the designated May trees—decorating their work area, vehicle, and other places as a part of the celebration.

This year’s celebration will be a low key one, because of the COVID-19 pandemic. A lot of the laborers have lost their jobs, and some are stuck in places of work because of the migrant labor system which prevails in India.

Many of the countries celebrate May day when they have to voice the demands of the laborers such as

  • The government addresses the need to increase the minimum wages for the laborers
  • Demands for fair working standards are proposed
  • Establishing a culture for human and worker rights which are enshrined in national and international labor laws
  • Union leaders speak about worker’s rights
  • New worker legislations are passed and welcomed as they would be worked out in favor of the workers
  • Most of all the unions fought better income and supportive policies for the laborers

May day holds marches, celebrations, demonstrations, and other festivities wherein the workers come together and make it a memorable day each year.

Interesting Facts
  •  In 1887, Oregon was the first state to make Labour Day a legal holiday.
  • Labour Day originally was meant to recognize the contributions of the American workforce, and it had strong ties to the labour union movement. Today, it is seen more as a chance to celebrate the (unofficial) last weekend of summer.
  • Throughout much of the 19th century, it was common for American labourers to work 12-hour days to make a living. Children often worked in factories and mines, and there were few regulations to support workers. On September 3, 1916, the Adamson Act was passed by Congress, establishing an eight-hour workday.
  • As Labour Day has often been seen as the unofficial end of summer, many upper-class citizens would pack away their lightweight, white summer clothes as they returned back to work and school. This had led to the expression no white after Labour Day.
  • Labour Day marks the end of peak hot dog season. From Memorial Day to Labour Day, Americans eat roughly 7 billion hot dogs. After Labour Day, many Americans will start obsessing over pumpkin spice.
  • 1st May is also celebrated as Maharashtra Day & Gujrat Day as this day in 1960 embarked the formation of Maharashtra and Gujarat.

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