Labour Day/May Day 2019: Why it is celebrated, 10 lesser-known facts

New Delhi, News Nation Bureau | Updated : 01 May 2019, 07:01 AM
In India, the first Labour day or May Day was celebrated in the year 1923. It was the Labour Kisan Party who had organised the May Day celebrations in Chennai (then Madras). (File photo)
In India, the first Labour day or May Day was celebrated in the year 1923. It was the Labour Kisan Party who had organised the May Day celebrations in Chennai (then Madras). (File photo)

Labour Day, also known as May Day, corresponds to the International Workers' Day which is celebrated across the globe. This day is observed as a holiday in more than 80 countries including India. Labour Day has its origins in the labour union movement in the United States in the 19th century when the industrialists used to exploit the labour class and made them work up to 15 hours a day. The workers rose against this exploitation and demanded paid leaves, proper wages and breaks for the workforce. The eight-hour day labour movement advocated eight hours for work, eight hours for recreation, and eight hours for rest. 

In India, the first Labour day or May Day was celebrated in the year 1923. It was the Labour Kisan Party who had organised the May Day celebrations in Chennai (then Madras).

10 facts about Labour Day/May Day:

  • During the rise of industrialisation, 19th century industrialists in the US exploited the labour class and made them work for up to 15 hours a day.
  • On May 1, 1886, workers took to the streets across the United States to reduce the workday to eight-hour shifts.
  • The eight-hour day labour movement advocated eight hours for work, eight hours for recreation, and eight hours for rest. 
  • The number eight has often been spotted on many union buildings in Australia to symbolize an eight-hour working day. The Eight-Hour monument featuring a golden globe bearing the 888 symbol was built in Spring Street in Melbourne in 1903.
  • In Chicago, on May 4, 1886, a bomb blast killed seven police officers and four civilians. The blast was carried out as a response to the police who had killed peaceful demonstrators the day before.
  • Three years later, a French socialist party chose May 1 as the International Workers' Day to honour the labour movement and commemorate the Haymarket Massacre.


    File picture of a Labour Day parade in Toronto, Canada. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

  • In India, the first Labour day or May Day was celebrated in the year 1923. It was the Labour Kisan Party who had organised the May Day celebrations in Chennai (then Madras). One of these was organised at Triplicane Beach and the other one was arranged at the beach opposite Madras High Court. This was also the time when the Red Flag which symbolises Labour Day was first used in India.
  • May 1 is also marked as 'Maharashtra Day' and 'Gujarat Day' to mark the date in 1960 when the two western states attained statehood after the erstwhile Bombay state was divided on linguistic lines.
  • Labour Day is also known as 'Kamgar Din' or 'Antarrashtriya Shramik Diwas' in Hindi, 'Kamgar Divas' in Marathi and 'Uzhaipalar Naal' in Tamil.
  • The theme of Labour Day 2019 is 'Uniting Workers for Social and Economic Advancement'.
First Published: Wednesday, May 01, 2019 07:00 AM
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