International Labour Day — also known as May Day or International Workers’ Day — celebrates the struggle, dedication and commitment of the working class for its rights.
The genesis of this day is in the labour union movement in the United States in the 19th Century, when industrialists exploited the labour class and made them work at least 15 hours a day. The movement involved protests that delivered a strong blow to the cycle of exploitation and made eight-hour working days a reality.
The Origin of International Labour Daydates back to May Day, 1886, when some 200,000 US workmen engineered a nationwide strike demanding eight-hour working days.
May 1, 1886, the labour action wasn’t just any strike — it was part of what came to be known as the Haymarket tragedy. On 1 May of that year, Chicago and a few other cities were the site of major union demonstrations in support of the eight-hour workday demand. The protests in Chicago were meant to be part of several days of agitations. But on 3 May, at a peaceful meeting of workers, 180 policemen marched to break up the meeting. A police captain ordered the meeting to disperse to which the speaker cried out that it was a peaceful gathering. The police then opened fire at the gathering, killing several men and wounding around 200.
In 1889, the International SocialistConference declared that in commemoration of the sacrifice of workersat Haymarket, 1 May would be an international holiday for the labour force, now known as International Workers’ Day.
The right for an 8-hour working day, won after lot struggle, is being trampled by capitalists the world over by finding different ways to increase the working hours as well as the exploitation of workers.
On May 1, workers of the world reiterate their resolve to fight for the cause of the working class.