The Labor Day
has a long tradition: the first «First of May» was born in Paris on 20 July 1889.
The idea was launched during the congress of the Second International, gathered in the French capital (the intent of the organization, born from the ashes of the first International was to coordinate the activities of all the national parties related to the labor movement, ed). A large demonstration was called to ask the public authorities to reduce the working day to eight hours.
“8 hours of work, 8 of entertainment, 8 to sleep” was the slogan coined in Australia in 1855 and was shared by most of the early twentieth century trade union movement, which paved the way for general demands and the search for a day. May 1, in which all workers could meet to exercise a form of struggle and assert their autonomy.
Why this date?
To make the choice fall on this date were the serious incidents that occurred in the early days of May 1886 in Chicago and known as Haymarket’s revolt. In the mid-nineteenth century, in fact, the workers had no rights: they worked even 16 hours a day, in poor condition, and often died in the workplace. On May 1, 1886, a general strike was called across the United States to reduce the working day to 8 hours. The protest lasted three days and culminated precisely on May 4, with the massacre repressed in the blood: a real battle in which 11 people died.
The initiative became the symbol of the workers’ claims that in those years were fighting for better rights and working conditions. Thus, despite the repressive response of many governments, the May Day of 1890 registered a very high level of membership. Today, that date is a national holiday in many countries. Except in the United States, where “Labor Day” is celebrated on the first Monday of September. The festival originated in Canada in memory of the claims of the so-called “Movement of the nine hours”.