INTERNATIONAL WORKERS’ DAY
May 1 is International Workers’ Day and we are honoring laborers and the working class from every corner of the world. Commonly referred to as Labour Day or May Day in many countries, International Workers’ Day celebrates hard working individuals everywhere.
As we celebrate International Workers Day we are taking you back in time to learn about how the day came to be. We start our journey in 1760 at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. Inventions such as the railroad, cotton gin, and electricity began to change society. As the Industrial Revolution grew and spread across the glob. Millions of workers were needed to fill positions in factories. Of course, people began to fill positions in hopes to make a better life for their families. Unfortunately, the reality of earning a paycheck became a harsh lesson for many.
Many employers treated their workers unfairly, forcing their employees to work under poor conditions for little play, not to mention extremely long hours. The working class needed someone to stand up for their rights, as the hardships of employment became unbearable for many.
In 1864, the International Workingmen’s Association (IWA) in London formed with the intention of fighting for the rights for workers. Their belief was employees should work in safe conditions for good pay and not have to work extremely long hours. In 1871, workers in France were inspired by the work of the International Workingmen’s Association and followed suit, starting their own labor movement. Eventually, the labor movement around the world helped to create a 5-day workweek, paid holidays, and an 8-hour workday. Today, many workers around the world enjoy all the benefits that the labor movement fought so hard for.
Goals of the IWA
- Shorter work hours.
- Safer work environment.
- Fair wages.
- Elimination of child labor.
- Ability for the state to regulate labor conditions.
How Can I Celebrate International Workers’ Day?
In honor of the working class, many companies around the world observe this day by giving their employees a day off. In addition, many trade unions and labor associations hold parades, rallies, and other kinds of celebrations in honor of their employees.
Does Every Country Protect Worker rights?
Unfortunately, many people in some countries are still fighting for workers’ rights, resulting in using International Workers’ Day as a day of protests, marches, and demonstrations. You can help spread awareness about this International Day on social media using with #WorkersDay.
HISTORY BEHIND INTERNATIONAL WORKERS’ DAY
- The Federation of Organized Trade and Labour Unions of the U.S. and Canada said May 1, 1886 would mark the beginning of an 8-hour workday in 1884.
- On May 1, 1886, up to 500,000 workers in the U.S. went on strike in protesting poor working conditions.
- Haymarket Affair happened on May 4, 1886, after the peaceful protest of workers turned violent. As police attempted to break up the protesters, a bomb was thrown at them. Seven police officers died, along with four civilians.
- In 1889, an international organization for workers and socialists in Paris declared May 1st as International Workers’ Day. While most countries around the world celebrate on May 1, the U.S. and Canada hold their Labor Day on the first Monday in September.