The History of Labour Day


International Labour Day is observed on the first day of the month of May. It celebrates and honours the contribution of working men and women. In India, the holiday is also celebrated as Antarrashtriya Shramik DiwasUzhaipalar Dinam (Tamil) or Kamgar Din. This year’s theme for Labour Day 2019 is ‘Uniting Workers for Social and Economic Advancement.’

It’s History

  • Dates back to 1st May 1886 in Chicago
  • The symbolism of the number 8 – Labour unions in the United States of America decided to go on a strike demanding that should not be allowed to work more than 8 hours a day.
  • The strike was followed by a bomb blast in Chicago’s Haymarket Square on May 4th which led to the death of several citizens and police officers
  • Although the historic event didn’t lead to any immediate results, it helped establish the 8-hour workday norm across the world.

It’s History in India

  • It was first celebrated in 1923 in Chennai
  • India was in the midst of some major political upheavals with the Gandhian mode of nationalist struggle and the communist movement beginning to establish its presence
  • On May 1st, 1923, prominent Communist leader Malayapuram Singaravelu Chettiar raised the red flag in Chennai, marking the beginning of communism in India.
  • He arranged for two meetings to celebrate this occasion and passed a Resolution, which stated that the government should announce a national holiday on the Labour Day (1 May) in India.
  • He went onto to form The Labour Kisan Party of Hindustan. Though the party was short lived, we continue to celebrate May Day in honour of the efforts put in by its workers.
  • In Maharashtra and Gujarat, it is officially called Maharashtra Day and Gujarat Day respectively, since it was on this day in 1960 that they attained statehood, after the old Bombay State became divided on linguistic lines.

The Day has become symbolic to represent how workers get together and showcase their strength indicating how effectively they can struggle to bring positive reforms for the working class of society.


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