Labour Day or International Workers Day is celebrated annually on 1 May to celebrate the working class and labourers across the world. Socialist and labour unions celebrate this day by organising programmes to improve wages and working conditions of the workforce. In more than 80 countries Labour Day is a national holiday.

The theme of International Labour Day 2019 is “Sustainable Pension for all: The Role of Social Partners”.

Why is Labour Day celebrated?

Before a formal Labour Day came into place, deaths, injuries and dangerous working conditions were very common among the working class globally. During the rise of industrialisation, the US exploited the working class during the 19th century and made them work up to 15 hours a day under rigorous conditions.

The rising death of the workforce in industries forced the working class to raise their voice for their safety. After efforts made by the workers and socialists, eight-hours was declared as the legal time for the workers in the national convention at Chicago in late 19th century by the American Federation of Labor.

History of International Labour Day:

The origin of Labour Day goes back to an incident in Chicago on May 4, 1886 known as the Haymarket Affair. On this day workers assembled as part of a peaceful rally in a strike demanding an eight-hour work day. An unknown person threw a dynamite bomb at the police as they acted to disperse the meeting, and the bomb blast and ensuing gunfire resulted in the deaths of seven police officers and at least four civilians; dozens of others were wounded.

The Chicago protests are now celebrated as Labour Day on 1 May. These protests led to many countries, including India, following an eight hour work day. The first Labour Day in India was celebrated on 1 May, 1923, in Chennai. It was organised by the Labour Kisan Party of Hindustan.

How do we celebrate International Labour Day?

International Labour Organisation (ILO) is a part of the United Nations Organisation works towards improving the working and living standards of workers all over the world. On 1 May every year, the ILO conducts rallies and marches across the world to create awareness about issues like forced labour, minimum wage law and rights of migrant workers.

Theme of International Labour Day 2019:

The theme of International Labour Day 2019 is “Sustainable Pension for all: The Role of Social Partners”.