International Labor Day, or May Day, is observed globally on May 1 every year. This day is celebrated to honor the contributions of the workers and to spread awareness about their rights. As a sensible citizen, we must recognize their struggles and the efforts they put into society to keep the economy running.  

Often they have to undergo a lot of challenges. While it is a day of acknowledgment and appreciation for the labor force, it also raises questions about the state of workers’ rights, working conditions, and social justice. 

In this blog, we’ll discover the importance of International Labor Day, its origins, and the ongoing significance of worker rights in today’s world. 

So, let’s get started: 

International Labor Day 

It is a well-known fact that labor is a crucial part of a society without which no economy could function. Despite all the technological advancements, the labor force has a unique standing of its own that can never be overlooked. 

Labor rules supreme in every sector of civilization be it manufacturing, trade, agriculture, construction of buildings, bridges, roads, etc. So, we can say that labor is the combination of all human, physical, and mental efforts used in the generation of goods and services. There is one primary factor for production, growth, and sustainability; labor.  

Besides, the purpose of Labor Day is to provide the laborers with the right to work for only 8 hours a day. This gives laborers release from the stress and pressure from loads of overly-burdened activities they perform daily. Therefore, governments of various countries offer numerous rights to this sector so they can have a better life. 


The origin of International Labor Day can be traced back to the late 19th century when labor movements across the world began advocating for better working conditions, shorter workdays, and fair wages.  

One of the key events that led to the establishment of Labor Day was the Haymarket affair in Chicago in 1886, where workers staged a strike to demand an eight-hour workday. The protest turned violent, resulting in several deaths and injuries.  

Responding to the violence, the International Socialist Conference declared May 1st as International Workers’ Day to commemorate the Haymarket affair and honor the labor movement’s struggle for workers’ rights. 

Let’s have a deeper view: 

  • It all started onMay 1, 1886,when labor unions struck in the USA. Their demand was simple laborers should not be compelled to work more than eight hours a day. 
  • On May 4, the bomb blasts in Chicago’s Haymarket took place during that strike. In the incident, over 100 people were injured while several people and police officers died on the spot. 
  • However, the strike did not result in any abrupt consequences on laborers’ work but it helped in establishing the eight-hour workday rule in several countries of the world. 
  • The real statement about the event: “Reliable witnesses testified that all the pistol flashes came from the centre of the street, where the police were standing, and none from the crowd. Moreover, initial newspaper reports made no mention of firing by civilians. A telegraph pole at the scene was filled with bullet holes, all coming from the direction of the police.” 
  • In 1889, Raymond Lavigne gave a proposal in a meeting in Paris where it was decided to celebrate May Day on an annual basis. It said that international protests are required to celebrate the anniversary of the Chicago incident.  
  • In 1891, it was globally recognized to celebrate May Day as an annual event. 

Do they Celebrate Labor Day in the UK? 

Bank holidays in the UK are usually held on Mondays, and so the first Monday in May is the May Day Bank Holiday. 

The “Day of Swearing” occurred the following month – June – which saw the Mayor-Elect receive his chains of office. The early May bank holiday on the first Monday in May was created in 1978; May Day itself – 1 May – is not a public holiday in England (unless it falls on a Monday). 

The decision to mark May 1 as May Day was taken in memory of Chicago’s Haymarket Affair, which took place in 1886, during a protest in support of workers’ rights. The incident resulted in the death of seven police officers and at least four civilians. 

This historic day is a holiday in countries like Uruguay, Sweden, France, Argentina, Mexico, Brazil, Chile, and many more. However, citizens of the USA and Canada celebrate this day annually on the first Monday of September. 

Significance and Celebration 

International Labor Day is an occasion to celebrate the achievements and contributions of workers to society. It is a day to recognize the essential role that workers play in driving economic growth, innovation, and social progress.  

Many countries celebrate the day with different activities like parades, rallies, and other public events to showcase workers’ rights, highlight labor issues, and promote harmony among workers 

Also, it is a time to highlight the challenges faced by workers, such as low wages, unsafe working conditions, job insecurity, and manipulation. Thus, making every effort for the renewal of addressing these issues. 

Challenges and Ongoing Struggles 

Over the years, many challenges continued for workers around the world, despite the progress made in labor rights. Many basic issues keep arising in different countries. These problems include inequality, discrimination, unwarranted employment, and lack of access to basic rights and protections.  

With millions of workers facing job losses, wage cuts, and increased health risks, the COVID-19 pandemic has further worsened these challenges. Furthermore, other factors posing new challenges to workers’ rights and job security are the gig economy, automation, and globalization. All these have changed the nature of work and the job requirements demanding a significant transformation in labor rights. 

Calls for Action 

As we celebrate International Labor Day, it is essential to restate the importance of upholding and advancing workers’ rights and protections. Governments, employers, trade unions, and civil society must work together to ensure fair wages and safe working conditions. Also, they must have easy access to healthcare and social protections, and the right to organize and collectively bargain.  

Moreover, strengthening labor laws, enforcing compliance, and promoting social dialogue are critical steps toward building a more inclusive and equitable society where all workers can prosper. 

Final Thoughts 

International Labor Day is a time to celebrate the contributions of workers to society and acknowledge the ongoing struggles for workers’ rights and social justice. While progress has been made in improving working conditions and labor rights, many challenges persist, requiring continued advocacy and action.  

It’s high time we understand what we are doing just for the rights being preserved for them. Do they get equal importance in every walk of life? Are there enough resources available for them to make both ends meet? 

As we commemorate Labor Day, let us renew our commitment to building a fairer, more equitable world for them where every worker is treated with dignity, respect, and fairness. Only then, we’d be fairly able to celebrate this day with pride and justice.