Most people in the world have very little information about May Day or Labor Day. It is assumed that it is the holiday celebrated in communist nations like Soviet Union or Cuba. A lot of Americans don’t know that May Day is originated in the US and it is stemmed from pre-Christian Beltane holiday.
The Origin of May Day
The working class was constantly struggling hard to achieve work day for 8 hours in the late 19th century. People ended up working for 10 to 16 hours in unsafe environments and severe work conditions. Injury and death were common at several workplaces. In 1860s, people troubled to shorten the working hours without any cut in payment but it was not possible until 1880s when organized labor managed to gain enough power to work for 8 hours a day. This declaration was done without employers’ consent and working class demanded it.
For working people, socialism was a revolutionary and new idea. Most of them fell to this new concept of control of working class over the distribution and production of all services and products. Workers first checked whether the capitalism benefited their bosses only, as they were trading the lives of workers for profit. Thousands of children, men and women were dying unnecessarily every year at workplace. In some industries, life expectancy was low in their early twenties and there was little or no hope for life. This way, socialism came as a hope.
The Significance of International Labor Day in Brief
- The day is originated in labor union movement, especially 8-hour movement, which is based on 8 hours for recreation, 8 hours for work, and 8 hours for rest.
- It has always been an official public holiday in countries like North Korea, People’s Republic of China, former Soviet Union and Cuba. May Day is usually celebrated with military parades in these nations.
- May Day has long being important for demonstrations by several communists, socialists and anarchist groups.
- May Day has become intermittent for large number of military parades during the Cold War in Red Square by the Soviet Union and was attended by the leaders of Kremlin, especially the Politburo over Lenin’s Tomb. It has been the enduring sign of that period.
Labor Day in India
- The May Day Labor Day was celebrated for the first time in Madras (Chennai) in India on May 1, 1923 by the Labor Kisan Party of Hindustan.
- Red flag was first used in the country for the first time then.
- The day is bound to labor movements for socialist and communist political parties.
- In Hindi, Labor Day is called as “Kamgar Din”, in Marathi, “Kamgar Divas” and in Tamil, “Uzhaipalar Naal”.
- To commemorate the day in the year 1960 when two western states achieved statehood after the infamous Bombay state was separated, May 1 is also celebrated as Gujarat Day and Maharashtra Day every year.
The Child Labor Act, 1986
The Child Labor Act in India prohibits recruiting minors below 14 years of age and employers were instructed to have better labor standards to avoid any maltreatment or abuse of children.