Labour Day, also known as International Workers’ Day in many countries, is celebrated to remember the sacrifices and importance of the working class. All over the world, this annual event is observed on the 1st of May to pay tribute to workers, labourers and daily wagers.
International Workers’ Day: A brief history
May 1st was picked to honour the unfortunate killings that happened during a labour demonstration in the American City, Chicago on May 4, 1986. It all happened due to a bombing incident at Haymarket.
The workers were observing a strike for an eight-hour day. It all began on May 1. The explosion took place where the workers had gathered killing four of them and seven police officers. Apart from the killings, hundreds of people were reported injured and dozens seriously wounded.
Since then, May 1 has been supported and celebrated by all labour, socialist, communist movements, trade unions and the common public too. Global media, be it electronic, print or social, emphasizes the rights of the labour and pays tribute to the working class.
When is International Workers’ Day?
May Day or the international workers’ day is commemorated on the 1st of May every year. It is usually a bank holiday. We, in the UK have been celebrating May Day for many years now, however, some countries have different dates to celebrate this historic day.
For instance, in the United States, they do it on the first Monday of September. In most countries, May Day has been recognized as a public holiday since the 19th century mostly due to the rise of trade unions.
May Day celebrations around the globe
Many countries across the globe observe this day with respect. The governments, NGOs and other organizations arrange parades, rallies and demonstrations to pay tribute to the people who got killed in Chicago and other workers, worldwide, who strive hard to earn an honest livelihood.
People in major cities of the world take to the streets to acknowledge and sacrifices of the workers. Talking specifically about the UK, an anti-capitalist movement has seen huge protests in cities like London, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Doncaster.
We’ve also seen that these protests sometimes don’t remain peaceful and take violent turns. Clashes with police have also been experienced. While in 2018, a large number of people were reported to be marching through the streets of London demanding rights for trade unions and international solidarity.
While in 2019, in the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka, women protestors and workers arranged rallies to mark a significant International Workers’ Day. According to the media, this women’s rally was peaceful, as expected.
On the other hand, on May 1st, 2019, the May Day riots erupted in Paris, the Capital of France. Paris police arrested 250 people for public offenses as the police clashed with the violent “Black Bloc” anti-capitalists.
After these vicious protests, Paris police were forced to enforce a lockdown which saw a whopping 7400 police officers deployed in the streets to stop any violence from happening. However, since last year, 2020, the enforcing of COVID-19 related lockdown has changed things altogether.
Last year, London May Day arranged an online event to address the important issues by arranging worthy speakers and propagating messages from labour unions and organizations. This year, we are also going to see more online events and meetings to highlight the importance of day> Although the lockdown in the UK has eased still we may see a cautious approach.
The UK authorities and will have a close eye on large gatherings and may not allow hundreds of people in the streets due to the fear of coronavirus transmission.