Why do we mark International Workers Day:
May 1st was chosen to be International Workers’ Day in order to commemorate the May 4, 1886 Haymarket affair in Chicago. The police were trying to disperse a public assembly during a general strike for the eight-hour workday, when an unidentified person threw a bomb at the police. The police responded by firing on the workers, killing four demonstrators.
In 1904, the International Socialist Conference meeting in Amsterdam called on “all Social Democratic Party organizations and trade unions of all countries to demonstrate energetically on May First for the legal establishment of the 8-hour day, for the class demands of the proletariat, and for universal peace.” The congress made it “mandatory upon the proletarian organizations of all countries to stop work on May 1, wherever it is possible without injury to the workers. Across the globe, labor activists sought to make May Day an official holiday to honor labor and many countries have done so.
May Day has long been a focal point for demonstrations by various socialist, communist and anarchist groups. It has been an important official holiday in many countries.
May Day is a time to celebrate the historic values and achievements of trade unions. It is also a time to reaffirm our commitment to organize workers everywhere and support their fights for:
– Freedom of Association and collective bargaining;
– Minimum wages on which workers can live;
– Universal social protection; and
– Safe, healthy and sustainable jobs.
Unions are organising globally to transform the model of trade that allows exploitative supply chains that deny fundamental rights, impoverish workers and their communities and profit from unsafe workplaces.
Hence this year we wish to join in support with unions around the world to mark this event. We remember our colleagues in Nepal who are facing the most trying times in their history. We remember them in our prayers and dedicate May Day 2015 to their sacrifices and hope for quick recovery and normalcy.
We join our union colleagues worldwide who will be launching campaigns or undertaking solidarity actions to mark this Day.
* Watch this space for May Day message by National Secretary FTUC*