Today is May Day, also known as International Workers’ Day. It is a celebration of the international labour movement and is a national holiday in more than 80 countries worldwide. In many other countries, like ours, it is celebrated by workers but not recognized by governments.
May Day’s roots go back 120 years. It began as a commemoration of the 1886 Haymarket riots, where police shot and killed many public demonstrators who were supporting a general strike for the eight-hour workday.
Conservative governments have sought to repress the message behind International Workers’ Day, with fascist governments in Italy, Portugal, Germany and Spain abolishing the workers’ holiday. President Grover Cleveland of the United States feared providing an opportunity to commemorate the Haymarket riots and moved to support the first Monday in September as “Labour Day”. Canada followed suit.
May Day is a time to reflect on both how far we have come, as well as the the path ahead.
We continue to fight, especially as we approach both a Federal and Territorial election. Let’s work together to protect not only jobs but also pensions and access to public services for all Northerners.