The History Of May Day : From Struggle To Celebration

When you're working from 9 to 5, for eight hours a day, anything beyond that is considered overtime. That means the company should compensate you extra for those overtime hours. But do you know when this 8-hour workday demand began? Behind it  had a pathetic, and touching history.

Happy International Worker's Day

Today, on May 1st, the "International Workers' Day" is being celebrated worldwide. It's also known as "May Day". In nearly 80 countries, including Bangladesh, May Day is a national holiday. In many other countries around the world, it is observed informally. Workers and labor unions commemorate this May Day through rallies and processions on the streets.

The History goes back to 1886 when the laborers of Haymarket in the city of Chicago, USA, protested extensively for appropriate wages and a demand for an 8-hour workday. They created a significant movement, advocating for labor rights amidst struggles in factories and fields. To escape prolonged exploitation and oppression, the workers shed fresh blood on this day in 1886. On that day, the workers demanded an 8-hour workday across all industries in the United States. The protest of workers surrounded the streets of Chicago's Haymarket like an ocean.

During the protest, police indiscriminately fired upon the workers, resulting in the deaths of 10-12 laborers. On July 14, 1889, at the second International Workers' Congress held in Paris, France, the bloodshed in Chicago was commemorated and May 1st was declared as "International Workers' Day". Since then, the demand for an "8-hour workday" by workers has been officially recognized. Since then, May 1st has been observed as a day of sacrifice and demand fulfillment for workers.

This May Day is celebrated as Labor Day in the United States and Canada in September. The Central Labor Union and the Labor Night are the initiators of celebrating this day there. After the massacre at Haymarket, the then President of the United States, Grover Cleveland, believed that any event held on May 1st could potentially lead to violence. Therefore, as early as 1887, he was apprehensive about endorsing the celebration of Labor Day.

In African countries like Algeria, Angola, Egypt, Ethiopia, and the American continent's Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, and Canada, May 1st is celebrated as Labor Day. Similarly, in Bangladesh, this day is celebrated appropriately. In Bangladesh, May Day is a government holiday. On this occasion, the President and Prime Minister address the nation. Various government and non-government organizations celebrate the day with rallies, workers' gatherings, discussions, seminars, cultural events, and various programs.

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