International Workers Day/ Labour Day is an official national holiday in more than 80 countries. It is also celebrated unofficially in many other countries. It is observed every year to pay tribute to the contribution of workers across the world which makes up a large part of the global economy and our society.
For well over a century now, May 1 has been a holiday in many parts of the world. While it may just be a holiday for the comfortably employed, May 1 — known as ‘International Labour Day’ — commemorates the 19th-century movement against the exploitation of labourers. In the United States and Canada a similar observance, known as Labor Day, occurs on the first Monday of September.
History and Origin
1 May was chosen to be International Workers’ Day to commemorate the 1886 Haymarket affair in Chicago. In that year beginning on 1 May, there was a general strike for the eight-hour workday. On 4 May, the police acted to disperse a public assembly in support of the strike when an unidentified person threw a bomb. The police responded by firing on the workers. The event led to the deaths of seven police officers and at least thirty-eight civilians; sixty police officers were injured, as were one hundred and fifteen civilians. Hundreds of labour leaders and sympathizers were later rounded-up and four were executed by hanging, after a trial that was seen as a miscarriage of justice. The following day on 5 May, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the state militia fired on a crowd of strikers killing seven, including a schoolboy and a man feeding chickens in his yard.
In 1889, a meeting in Paris was held by the first congress of the Second International, following a proposal by Raymond Lavigne that called for international demonstrations on the 1890 anniversary of the Chicago protests. On May 1, 1890, the call encouraged May Day demonstrations took place in the United States and most countries in Europe.
Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc under communist governments
Eastern Bloc countries such as the Soviet Union and most countries of central and eastern Europe that were under the rule of Marxist-Leninist governments held official May Day celebrations in every town and city, during which party leaders greeted the crowds. Workers carried banners with political slogans and many companies decorated their company cars.
The biggest celebration of 1 May usually occurred in the capital of a particular communist country and usually included a military display and the presence of the president and the secretary general of the party. During the Cold War, May Day became the occasion for large military parades in Red Square by the Soviet Union and attended by the top leaders of the Kremlin, especially the Politburo, atop Lenin’s Mausoleum. It became an enduring symbol of that period. In Poland, since 1982, party leaders led the official parades. In Hungary, May Day was officially celebrated under the communist regime, and remains a public holiday.
Traditionally, the day was marked by dancing around designated “May trees”. Some factories in communist countries were named in honour of International Workers’ Day, such as 1 Maja Coal Mine in Wodzisław Śląski, Poland. In East Germany, the holiday was officially known as Internationaler Kampf- und Feiertag der Werktätigen für Frieden und Sozialismus (“International Day of the Struggle and Celebration of the Workers for Peace and Socialism”); similar names were used in other Eastern Bloc countries.
May Day celebrations in Turkey
First Workers’ Day celebrations were held in 1911 in Thessaloniki in Ottoman Empire by tobacco and cotton workers, while first celebration in Istanbul was in 1912.
Turkey’s first official May Day celebrations were held in 1923.
After being abolished in 1981, May 1 was restored as a national holiday in 2009.
It is important to mark this day because without the workers our world and economy would not exist. We should give them proper rights, working conditions and hours that are suitable for everyone. We shouldn’t exploit our workers and they deserve proper salaries. For many years now, 1st of May was marked by many protests of syndicate unions across the world. This year due to corona virus and global pandemic, this protest are banned.