This Friday, 1st of May is International Workers’ Day 2020
International Workers’ Day, also known as Workers’ Day or Labour Day. In the UK is often referred to as May Day (an ancient European spring festival). It is a public holiday; a national celebration of labourers promoted by the international labour movement. Canada and USA celebrate this day on the first Monday of September.
International Workers’ Day Origins
1886, the beginnings
Beginning in the late 19th century, as the trade union and labour movements grew, a variety of days were chosen by trade unionists as a day to celebrate labour. 1 May was chosen to be International Workers’ Day to commemorate the 1886 Haymarket affair in Chicago. In that year there was a general strike for the eight-hour workday, beginning on the 1st of May.
On the 4th of May, the police acted to disperse a public assembly in support of the strike when an unidentified person threw a bomb. The police responded by firing on the workers. The event led to the deaths of seven police officers and at least four civilians. Sixty police officers injured, as well as an unknown number of civilians. Hundreds of labour leaders and sympathizers were later rounded-up and four were executed by hanging.
The following day, in Wisconsin, the state militia fired on a crowd of strikers killing seven people. This included a schoolboy and a man feeding chickens in his yard.
Worker’s Day becoming International
In 1889, a meeting in Paris was held by the first congress of the Second International, following a proposal that called for international demonstrations on the anniversary of the Chicago protests. The 1st of May was formally recognized as an annual event at the International’s second congress in 1891. The 1904 Sixth Conference of the Second International, called on:
“all Social Democratic Party organisations and trade unions of all countries to demonstrate energetically on the First of May 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 organisations of all countries to stop work on 1 May, wherever it is possible without injury to the workers.”
Today, the majority of countries around the world celebrate a workers’ day on 1 May.
2020 International Workers’ Day
This year is an extraordinary celebration as most workers are under quarantine at home. Most businesses have closed by government decree, and only “Front-line jobs” are 100% active.
Businesses had to quickly adapt to the Covid-19 situation:
- In-shop sales to home-delivery sales.
- Office workers are now At home workers.
- Education and fitness has all shifted on to online classes.
- Most restaurants are offering their meals only takeaway or collection.
We have seen many demonstrations around the world thanking all ‘Front-line workers’ for their efforts. Heritage sites, public buildings, people’s window-sills and embassies from the United States to Africa light up in a show of solidarity.
In the Republic and Northern Ireland the #ShineYourLight calling for people to light a candle. This candle is to thank all workers; but also it is in memory of the people who have so far died of the Covid-19 illness.
Feed The Heroes a national fundraising effort set up just a few weeks ago to raise money to provide Ireland’s critical front-line workers with nutritious meals. Has to date, delivered more than 100,000 meals nationwide. Including a large portion now outside of the hospital setting in areas. Such as Covid-19 testing centres, contact tracing units, paramedic services, fire brigade and Gardai.
Thanking all the workers!
We would like to thanks all front-line an essential workers for their constant effort! Remember the easiest way to support all front-line workers is by staying at home and keeping up with all social distancing rules. Especially once the government begins to reducing restrictions.
- Teachers and childcare workers.
- Food service workers.
- Packaging, shipping, and delivery workers.
- Public transportation workers.
- Grocery workers.
- IT workers and news/information workers.
- Farm workers and farmers.
- Custodial and sanitation workers.
- Emergency services workers.
- Doctors, nurses, and medical workers.
- Public health workers and to researchers in the scientific community.
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