May 23, 2024
May Day

May Day: The history at a glance

International Workers’ Day (also known as May Day) is celebrated on the first day of May in many countries around the world. May Day is observed as Labor Day in some countries. This day is an official holiday. On May 1, 1886, 11 people were martyred when workers who were agitating for an 8-hour working day were shot at in the Hay Market in Chicago, USA. However, this day is not celebrated in the United States or Canada.

Previously, workers had to perform inhuman toil, averaging about 10 to 12 hours a day and 6 days a week. On the contrary, the wages were negligible, the workers lived a very inhumane life, in some cases it amounted to slavery. In 1884, a group of workers in the city of Chicago, USA, started a movement for an 8-hour work day, and they set a deadline of May 1, 1886 to implement their demand. But the factory owners did not accept this demand.

On the evening of May 4, 1886, in a light rain, workers gathered in Chicago’s Hay Market to march. They did this inspired by the success of a large labor march in Canada in 1872. A leader named August Spies was speaking to the assembled workers. Suddenly, a bomb exploded near the police team standing at a distance, killing one policeman. The police force immediately launched a surprise attack on the workers which turned into a riot. 11 workers were martyred in the riot. Eight people, including August Spies, were charged in the police killings.

After a mock trial, 6 were hanged in the open on 11th November 1887. One, Louise Ling, committed suicide in prison a day earlier, while another was sentenced to fifteen years in prison. “Today our silence will be louder than your voices,” said August Spies before ascending the gallows. On June 26, 1893, the governor of Illinois acquitted all eight accused, and the police commander who ordered the riot was indicted for corruption. And the identity of the unidentified bomber has never been revealed.

Finally the workers’ demand for “eight hours of work a day” received official recognition. And May 1st or May Day was established as the day of workers’ demands, it is still celebrated all over the world.

Commemorating this glorious chapter of the working people’s movement, “May Day” or “International Workers’ Day” has been celebrated worldwide on May 1 every year since 1980. May 1 reminds us of that movement. The International Socialist Congress held on July 14, 1890 declared May 1 as Workers’ Day and since then the day has been celebrated by the working class in many countries.

May Day acquired a special significance after socialist revolutions took place in several other countries, including Russia. By establishing the International Labor Organization (ILO) as an important subsidiary arm of the United Nations, workers’ rights were recognized and employers and workers in all countries were urged to adhere to them.

Thus protecting the rights of workers and employers. Bangladesh is a signatory country to the principles formulated by the ILO. Due to the predominance of the working class in the socialist system, this day is celebrated with great importance and determination in most socialist countries.

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