International Labour Day – May 1, 2012

History of Labour Day

Most nations celebrate Labour Day on May 1st, this is especially true of nations where there has been an English or European influence But what are we celebrating?  Is it just another day when we don’t have to go to work, or do we really understand what Labour Day is all about?

Labour Day is a day that was initiated in the 19th century and it commemorates the social and economic achievements wrought by labour movements that strove to improve the appalling working conditions for poor labourers.  The labour movements were especially strong in Europe and English speaking North America and England.  Labour Day also recognises the efforts of the majority who toiled endlessly in factories or did menial labour so the privileged classes could enjoy luxuries and leisure secured by the Industrial Revolution.

In 1810, labourers, desiring humane working conditions, demanded ‘8 hours work, 8 hours recreation and 8 hours rest’.  This single plea became the basis for International Labour Day.

If you are one of the privileged few who get a holiday on May 1st, consider your fellow citizens who continue to work, who have no holiday and who continue to labour endlessly on our behalf.  Our luxury is their sweat.

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