International Workers Day - History, Significance, Theme

By : Neha Dhyani

Updated : Mar 2, 2022, 6:57

1st May is celebrated as International Worker Day everywhere across the world. The International Labour Day was observed for the 1st time on 1st May 1923 in Chennai, which was then called Madras.

On 1st May, the world commemorates International Labour Day, also known as May Day, International Workers' Day, or Labour Day. This day is marked to honour the accomplishments of workers worldwide and to pay tribute to those who died in the historic 1886 Haymarket riots.

On this day, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Guy Ryder, Director-General of the International Labour Organization (ILO), calls on everyone in the world, including workers, employers, international organisations, and governments, to join forces and commit to making the world a better place for all workers.

International Workers Day or International Labour Day History

The origins of International Labour Day can be traced back to the 19th-century labour movement in the United States. The worker's day international labour day has great historical significance.

Workers were once required to work for 15 hours every day. The Haymarket riots, which took place on 1st May 1886, were a strike in Chicago in support of an 8-hour workweek. During the strike, a bomb was thrown, prompting police to open fire on the protestors. Hundreds of people were killed, including labourers, citizens, and police officers.

The Marxist International Socialist Congress convened a conference in Paris in 1889 to draft a resolution prohibiting employees from working more than 8 hours per day. To commemorate the 1886 Haymarket riots, 1st May became known as International Labour Day after this resolution was passed.

The Russian Revolution Link

  • The Second Communist International, founded by socialist and labour parties in 1889, declared that 1st May would be observed as International Workers' Day from that point forward.
  • After years of demonstrations and riots, the United States finally recognised eight-hour workdays in 1916.
  • In 1904, the International Socialist Congress in Amsterdam called for a large-scale demonstration on 1st May to demand the legalisation of the eight-hour workday.
  • During the Cold War, the Soviet Union and Eastern bloc countries adopted the commemoration after the 1917 Russian Revolution, with several of them declaring it a national holiday.
  • The commemoration included parades held in Moscow's Red Square, featured prominent Communist leaders, and highlighted Soviet military strength.

The Indian Link

  • May Day was first observed in India on 1st May 1923, when the Labour Kisan Party of Hindustan organised the celebrations led by Comrade Singaravelar (Singaravelu Chettiar).
  • Chettiar was recognised for being one of the leaders of the Madras Presidency's Self-Respect Movement and for fighting for the rights of the backward classes.
  • Chettiar passed a resolution at one of his meetings suggesting that the government offer everyone a national holiday on Labor Day.

The Labour Kisan Party of Hindustan observed International Labour Day for the first time in India on 1st May 1923, in Madras (now Chennai). This was also the first time India flew a crimson flag.

Why is the International Labour Day Celebrated?

International Labour Day is observed to commemorate people's historic sacrifices and struggles to bring equity and justice to people's working conditions worldwide.

This day encourages us to honour employees everywhere by helping to create better job possibilities, improving working conditions, providing social support, and preserving workers' rights.

International Labour Day 2021 Theme

There was no pre-decided theme for International Labour Day 2021. However, the theme for the year 2020 was "maintaining safety and security at the workplace."

International Workers Day is celebrated to pay tributes to all the workers who work tirelessly to contribute to society.

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FAQs on International Worker's Day

Q.1) When is International Worker Day celebrated?

The International Labour Day is celebrated on 1st May every year.

Q.2) What was the theme of International Labour Day 2020?

The theme for International Worker Day was "maintain safety and security at the workplace."

Q.3) Where was "International Worker Day celebrated 1st time in India?

International Worker Day was celebrated in Chennai for the first time in India.