International Workers’ Day, often referred as Labour Day, Workers’ Day or May Day, is a celebration of labourers and the working classes promoted by the international labour movement, socialists and communists. The history goes back to 1886 when workers protested for an eight-hour workday. The protest was followed by a bomb blast in Chicago’s Haymarket Square on May 4, leading to the death of several people and injuring more than 100. Although the protest didn’t yield immediate results it helped in establishing the eight-hour workday culture in several countries. May 1 is celebrated as an official holiday all over the world to mark the accomplishments of workers.
History of Labour Day
International Workers’ Day is a tribute to the Haymarket affair in Chicago on May 4, 1886. On May 1, 1886, the working class in the US challenged their 16-hour workday as it was unsafe and fatal and demanded that workers should not be asked to work for more than 8 hours a day. During the protest, when the police were trying to disperse the crowd an unidentified person threw a bomb at them. The police then replied by firing at the workers. This led to killing and injuring several people. However, some reports also stated that there was no firing by the civilians, all the firing came from the direction of the police. The protest was named as the ‘Haymarket affair’ and those who died were called ‘Haymarket Martyrs’. In 1889, the Second International, announced May 1 would be commemorated as International Workers’ Day from then on.
First Labour Day celebration in India
In India, the first International Workers’ Day was celebrated in Madras on May 1, 1923, by the Labour Kisan Party of Hindustan. This was the first time red flags were used in India. The day is celebrated as ‘Antarrashtriya Shramik Diwas’ and is known as ‘Kamgar Din’ in Hindi, ‘Kamgar Diwas’ in Marathi, ‘Karmikara Dinacharane’ in Kannada and ‘Uzhaipalar Dhinam’ in Tamil Nadu. The day coincides with ‘Maharashtra Day’ and ‘Gujarat Day’ when the two states attained statehood after the erstwhile Bombay state was divided on the basis of languages spoken by the people.