What we need to know about International Worker’s Day


International workers day or May Day


International worker’s day also referred to as “May day” or “Workers day” – is it just another holiday for us? But when we go down in history, we come to know how important this day is.


How it all started!

In the late nineteenth century, workers were in a constant struggle to gain an 8-hour work day. This upsurge was due to the unsafe conditions in which the labourers had to work for 10-16 hours each day. It often led to fatal injuries or even death, yet, the issue was largely overlooked by the concerned authorities. This is why, on May of 1886, the Haymarket affair (Haymarket Massacre) took place in Chicago. During this event, several people and police officers died due to a bomb blast and around 100 people were injured in the blast.

After several strikes by the workers and subsequent international discussions, 1st May was declared as the “International Worker’s Day” or “May day” by the International Socialist Congress. It is a day to commemorate the legal establishment of the 8-hour workday. Although the epicentre of the labour’s movement is not clearly known since many movements took place around the world that time, but over the years, the strike organised by 300,000 workers in the United States on 1st May 1886 is being considered the real cause behind the celebration of worker’s day. Since the movement took place on the 1st day of May when the workers walked off their jobs, this day is considered as the May Day. But what makes this holiday special is that it puts forward the notion of an 8-hour work and 8-hour recreation time for workers who labour all around the year.


Over the past few years…

With time, however, this day has evolved as the traditional spring holiday to celebrate the advent of spring season. May day has also given rise to a popular tradition in Germany, England, and Sweden called “MAYPOLE DANCE” in which people dance around a pole clad in colourful and bright dresses. In India, it was first celebrated in Chennai on May 1, 1923. In fact, May Day has been declared as a national holiday over 80 countries and in some countries, it is still celebrated unofficially.


What can we do?

Today, this day is celebrated to pay tribute to the labourers who died in the bomb blast and to acknowledge the importance of workers in all spheres of life. It is declared as a national holiday for all workers and they are given a day off to celebrate the spirit of their hard work and labour. It is a day exclusively for them.

But what about the working staff of restaurants or retail shops?  We are not obligated to work 12 hours anymore but in several places, workers are still not aware of the reason why we celebrate this day. There are countless undocumented workers for whom May Day is no different. Their struggle for basic rights and wages continues.


In the end, we must accept that only passion and motivation to work can lead us to a successful career. It may sound counter-intuitive, but in reality, the quality of our work is defined by how much thought we have put into it instead of how much time we have invested in it. This day, on one hand, reminds us of the importance of workers in our lives but, on the other hand, it also reminds us of the responsibilities we can undertake to change the scenario of workers all over the world. The decision of not appointing child labourers and ensuring the safety of workers in our organisation lies in our hand.


Let today be the day to start together for a better tomorrow.

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