Labour Day also known as May Day or International Workers Day is marked every year on May 1. It aims to encourage the working class to be conscious of their rights. Labour Day also recognises and honours the contribution of workers across the world.
The idea to celebrate Labour Day stems from the labour union movement in the United States in the 19th century. On May 1, 1886, around two lakh workers called for a nationwide strike demanding an eight-hour workday. Later, the protest took a violent turn in Chicago where it led to the Haymarket Affair.
The Haymarket Riot was spared after a peaceful meeting at the Haymarket Square in Chicago was bombed. The incident had claimed the lives of many protestors and police officers.
In 1889, the International Socialist Conference designated May 1 as Workers’ Day to commemorate the Haymarket incident. The day was then celebrated for the first time on May 1, 1890.
Today, Labour Day is celebrated in over 80 countries including India. In 1923, May Day was celebrated for the first time in India. It was observed by The Labour Kisan Party of Hindustan in Chennai. Maharashtra Day and Gujarat Day are also celebrated on May 1.
Workers have significantly contributed to nation-building through immense hard work. Labour Day not only aims to recognise workers’ hard work but also to educate them about their rights and save them from being exploited. It is also geared towards inspiring efforts to provide better working conditions to labour and help them make progress.
In many countries, Labour Day is a national holiday. Several events and seminars are organised on this day to highlight the achievements and contributions of workers. In some places, rallies are taken out while posters and banners are used to raise awareness about the workers and their rights.