May 1st marks the International Workers’ Day or Labor Day. This is a date, which is celebrated by workers all over the world. In some regions, it is also an official holiday. However, even countries that do not celebrate May 1st officially, often organize events related to the International Workers’ Day.
But why do we really mark the first day of May? Unfortunately, for many Labor Day is just another holiday or a day off. The importance and the true meaning behind this celebration is fading. This is a disturbing trend which reveals that the global working society has started to take their labor rights for granted.
Things like healthy working conditions, liveable wages and work hours are significant for the productivity and well-being of workers. Today, the importance of these factors is recognized and observed in most countries around the globe. After all, a state’s economy and position on the global map is greatly dependent on the quality of products and services, as well as on the health and life satisfaction of its citizens.
However, in the past, people lived divided by their social class. Often one of the classes had the challenging task to do most of the job, while the others simply enjoyed the fruits of their work. As a result, working conditions were health- or even life-threatening, wages slim and workdays implacably long.
This continued for centuries. But when the 1800s and the 1900s arrived, they ushered the Industrial Revolution. Workers started to organize themselves into trade and labor unions and decided to stand up for their rights – the very same rights which we enjoy today. Nevertheless, that was not an easy task and there were many challenges on the way some even stamped with blood.
But all of their efforts gave the birth of the international labor movement. Throughout the years, workers managed to win a number of victories. If it wasn’t for them and their determination, your workday would be completely different. If you find this hard to believe, take a quick look at some of the things which workers achieved over the decades:
- Eliminating child labor
- 8-hour work days
- 5-day work weeks
- Fair wages
- Paid holidays
- Workers’ right to organize their own unions
This is just a small list of the rights most workers have today. While it is true that working conditions in a number of countries and regions in the world continue to be hazardous, these past victories show that a reform is possible anywhere. So, if you are enjoying the above-listed labor rights, you should spare at least a minute of this day and commemorate the International Workers’ Day.