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International Labour Day - May 01: Traces to its causes and significance

All you need to know about Antarrashtriyta Shramik Diwas

26 Apr '24
3 min read



“Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life”    

                                                                                                 ---- Confucious



Since 1889, International Labour Day (ILD) is observed across the globe. May 01 is observed as ILD to recognize and celebrate the contribution and importance of the workers in the development of civilization. The day basically is commemorated to appreciate the contribution of labours or workers in the process of nation building, it raises consciousness on the importance of promoting and protecting rights and interests of workers, nationally and internationally. 



International Labour Day, also popularly known as ‘International Workers' Day’, ‘May Day’, ‘Labor Day’ has its roots to the incident known as ‘Haymarket Incident’ or ‘Haymarket Massacre’ or ‘Haymarket Affair’ or ‘Haymarket Riot’ which was happened on May 4, 1886 at Haymarket Square in Chicago, Illinois, United States. In 19th century, Chicago was at the center of the American Industrial development. Hundreds of thousands of Germen and Bohemian immigrants were employed in and around Chicago. They generally worked for 10 hours a day, 60 hours a week. 





After 1886, gradually workers started demanding '8 - hour work day', a strong consensus was built among them. They started protesting peacefully against contemporary authorities for the fulfillment of their demands. On May 3, 1886 a peaceful rally began for the similar cause, on the second day of the rally an unknown person threw a dynamite bomb at the police, the police reacted aggressively, they counter fired, as a result there was casualties of around dozen of people. The aim of the protest or rally was ‘8 - hour work day’. Later in 1992, the site of the incident was designated a Chicago Landmark. In 1997, ‘Haymarket Martyrs’ Monument' was designated as a National Historic Landmark. In 2004, a sculptor was also dedicated. 


About International Labour Day:

 In October 1884, a convention held by the Federation of Organised Trades and Labor Unions unanimously set May 1, 1886, as the representative day for 8 - hour work day. 

In 1889, a worldwide organization of socialist and labour parties declared May 01 as International Workers' Day in the memory of Haymarket Massacre.

In India, since 1923, ILD is observed. It was initiated by ‘The Labour Kisan Party of Hindustan’ from Madras.



ILD is an opportunity to highlight, honor and recognize the contribution of workers towards building infrastructure and providing vital services to the society. It also reminds us to acknowledge the contribution and dedication of workers to attain their interests and improving working conditions. The day also serves as a platform for this community to raise their voices towards policy makers. Policies should be inclusive and promoting social justice. Under different themes every year ILD is observed, the theme of ILD 2024 is “Social Justice and Decent Work for All”.



ILD reminds us of the collective power of workers, their contributions. By going through the history of the day and its spirit, we can contribute to a brighter future of all the working people across the globe.


Category : History


Written by Dhruv Jani

Reader, Educator