Issue date
01 May 2019
Today is May Day, also known as International Workers’ Day. It commemorates workers’ struggles which began in the 19th century.

May Day - International Workers’ Day

In the late 1800s, workers in parts of the US began campaigning against harsh working conditions.

Back then, 16-hour days in unsafe environments were common.

In May 1886, huge strikes gripped the city of Chicago.

Thousands of workers took to the streets to demand an 8-hour working day.

"The Cooperative Commonwealth", by Walter Crane. Reproduced 1926

Protests were repressed by police in what became known as the Haymarket Affair.

7 union leaders were convicted of conspiracy. 4 were later executed.

The Haymarket Affair marked the start of a shift in labour relations in the US.

The 8-hour day was adopted in the printing, construction and railway industries in the early 1900s.

It eventually became law across the US in 1937.

May 1st is now a national holiday in 66 countries.

It’s a day to remember the struggles for dignity and justice at work that have gone before.

And that the fight to improve the lives of working people continues today.