Today is May Day, or Labor Day in some nations. Observed on May 1st each year, it is used as both a day of spring celebrations and an opportunity to acknowledge, support and honour workers around the world.
The day is considered one of solidarity during which workers are celebrated — including workers who are in nations that are not their place of birth.
The history of International Workers’ Day began with worker suppression. During the late 1800s, a general strike to fight for the eight-hour workday took place. In an effort to dissemble the crowd, Chicago police fired on workers and killed dozens of demonstrators. Fast forward through history and today what we see around the world is that the right to assemble peacefully, bargain collectively and be protected from police, corporate, and government interests that seek to strip away hard-won workplace safety and environmental regulations, healthcare, and compensation packages are still being challenged. In other words, history repeats itself; around the world, workers and those who disagree with “ruling class” tactics are still fighting some of the same battles of yesteryear.
May Day is about speaking truth to power and demanding fairness. At a time when workers must still contend with inequitable distribution of resources it’s clear that if workers don’t stand up to demand equality, safe work conditions and fair compensation those things will not be given to them and, in fact, will be stripped away bit by bit.
In case you didn’t know, here’s a look at some of the May Day events around the world. The ‘one workforce one struggle’ poster is from Brazil’s auto workers. If that doesn’t show how connected the 99% are in the struggle for workers’ rights, what does?