May 1st, International Workers’ Day, commemorates the historic struggle of working people throughout the world and is recognized in every country except the United States, Canada, and South Africa. This despite the fact that the holiday began in the 1880s in the United States, with the fight for an eight-hour workday. May Day also is known as Labour Day. This day is a national holiday in more than 80 countries and also celebrated unofficially in many other countries. Labour Day is an annual holiday to celebrate the achievements of workers. The Day has its origins in the labor union movement, in the late 19th Century, specifically the eight-hour day movement, which advocated eight hours for work, eight hours for recreation, and eight hours for rest. For many countries, Labour Day is synonymous with or linked with, International Workers’ Day, which occurs on 1 May.
In the late nineteenth century, the working conditions were severe and unsafe. Working people had to work 12-16 hours per day. In 1884 the FOLTU (Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions) which later became the American Federation of Labor passed a resolution that “eight hours shall constitute a legal day’s labor from and after 1st May 1886”. By 1886 around 250,000 workers were involved in the eight-hour day movement. On 1st May 1886 several labor unions across the US went on strike, demanding a standard eight hours of the workday. On 4th May there was bloodshed in Chicago’s Haymarket, a bomb was thrown by a revolutionist led to the deaths of a dozen people and the injury of over 100 people. Five years later this day is recognized as a holiday by a socialist organization.
The main ideas of May Day are far away to be fulfilled yet. In recent years the substandard, even dangerous, work conditions and low pay found in Bangladeshi workers have come under severe criticism worldwide. Today, many workers are facing greater pressure to meet the demands of modern working life. Serious thing is that, with high physical working pressure, psychosocial risks such as increased competition, higher expectations on performance and longer working hours are contributing to the workplace becoming an ever more stressful environment. With the pace of work dictated by instant communications and high levels of global competition, the lines separating work from life are becoming more and more difficult to identify. In addition, due to the significant changes labor relations and the current economic recession, workers are experiencing organizational changes and restructuring, reduced work opportunities, increasing precarious work, the fear of losing their jobs, massive layoffs and unemployment and decreased financial stability, with serious consequences to their mental health and well-being. At present, we see tens of thousands of activists embracing the ideals of the Haymarket Martyrs and those who established May Day as an International Workers’ Day. Ironically, May Day is an official holiday in 66 countries and unofficially celebrated in many more, but rarely is it recognized in this country where it began.
Still, the celebration of May reminds us the right about workers. It is celebrated to pay tribute to the contributions, workers have made to make the world strong and prosper. This day is dedicated to the workers for their economic and social achievements. This celebration has become a historic significance all over the world and celebrated by the Labor unions worldwide. A variety of demonstrations, speeches, protests processions, rallies, and parades are organized by the working group people under the security arrangements to protect violence. However, like many other countries, the day is marked as a national holiday in Bangladesh. Many institutions and trade unions are going to organize pageants and other activities to show the importance of workers. Most political leaders make speeches. Various Television Channel will telecast related programs. So with this year’s May Day celebration, we continue to hope
Truly, history has a lot to teach us about the roots of our radicalism. When we remember that people were shot so we could have the 8-hour day; if we acknowledge that homes with families in them were burned to the ground so we could have Saturday as part of the weekend; when we recall 8-year old victims of industrial accidents who marched in the streets protesting working conditions and child labor only to be beaten down by the police and company thugs, we understand that our current condition cannot be taken for granted – people fought for the rights and dignities we enjoy today, and there is still a lot more to fight for. The sacrifices of so many people cannot be forgotten or we’ll end up fighting for those same gains all over again. This is why we celebrate May Day. Thus the celebration has become a historic significance all over the world and celebrated by the Labor unions worldwide. A variety of demonstrations, speeches, protests processions, rallies, and parades are organized by the working group people under the security arrangements to protect violence. However, like many other countries, the day is marked as a national holiday in Bangladesh. Many institutions and trade unions are going to organize pageants and other activities to show the importance of workers. Most political leaders make speeches. Various Television Channel will telecast related programs. So with this year’s May Day celebration, we hope that workers’ demand for a safe and balanced working environment will be achieved very soon.