Every year on May 1, a public holiday is observed in most countries to celebrate the hard work done by the working class, which keeps the world and its machinery going. Newspatrolling notes that the International Workers’ Day, as it is officially referred to, is a major celebration for socialists, communists, anarchists and people associated with the international labor movement. In some countries such as USA and Canada, this day is referred to as Labor Day and observed on the first Monday in September. However, the majority including European countries, China, India and other parts of the world celebrate the International Workers’ Day on May 1. In these countries, this day is most commonly referred to as May Day.
May Day: Origins
As per information gathered by Newspatrolling, the observance on May 1 can be traced back to the ‘Haymarket affair’, which occurred in Chicago on May 4, 1886. At that time, workers in the area were holding a strike and demanding an eight-hour workday. In the great commotion that was happening, someone threw a bomb at the police, which prompted the authorities to take strict action. The police were ordered to fire at the protestors, which resulted in the killing of four workers. Subsequently, May 1 was declared to be observed internationally as May Day. This declaration was made by the ‘Second International’, an organization of socialist and labor parties.
Significance of May Day
There are two aspects that highlight the importance of May Day. One is the enormous contributions made by the working class to keep the world running 24/7. The contribution of the working class is the thing that has created the marvels of the world, both ancient as well as modern. For ancient examples, just look at the pyramids, and for modern marvels, there’s plenty of evidence such as the massive skyscrapers, giant ships, deep underground tunnels, vast rail & road networks, mammoth bridges, super-sized manufacturing units, cars, trucks, spaceships and plenty more. Virtually everything that you can see, touch, smell or hear is a result of the contributions made by the working class.
The second aspect is the persistent fight by workers to improve working conditions and enable access to welfare schemes such as insurance, provident fund/pension, healthcare facilities, etc. Working conditions have evolved significantly since the beginning of the industrial revolution, so much so that modern workspaces, especially in sectors such as IT, Banking & Finance, Insurance, etc., have the most ultra-modern facilities. If it was not for the strikes and protests by the working class, the work conditions would have never improved and workers today would have never got access to the basic facilities they deserve. Newspatrolling would like its readers to know that the current eight-hour work schedule is one of the key achievements of the international labor movement.
May Day in India
If we look at India, we see that work conditions have improved considerably in the organized sector. However, workers in the unorganized sector are still a harassed lot, having to deal with a variety of issues such as wage delays, unhygienic/toxic work conditions, undefined work hours, no holidays, lack of healthcare facilities, no provision for compensation, etc. Newspatrolling recommends that all stakeholders, including government agencies, unorganized business operators, and labor welfare organizations should work together to evolve pragmatic and sustainable policies that can benefit the working class. When we can make the working class happy, only then can we truly celebrate the glory of May Day.