Today, we are on holidays!! That’s great, but… what do we actually celebrate? Yes, the International Workers’ Day. Any idea why the 1st of May became a public holiday in many countries around the world?
Everything started in the US in the 19th century. At that time, there was almost no regulation of the working hours. By regulation it meant that employers could not have their employees working for more than 18 hours in a row, except “if needed” — of course, why not do some extra hours after that? The thing is that one day in 1866, the 1st of May, some workers in Chicago got picky and went to the streets to claim that they just wanted to work for 8 hours — which made some sense in order to have 8 hours of work, 8 hours of rest and 8 hours of sleep. As the working conditions in Chicago were especially hard, the strike prolonged for 4 days in a non-peaceful way. Many people died and some of the responsible ended up hanged and known as the “Martyrs of Chicago”.
As this sad story should not be forgotten, the members of the International Socialist Workers Congress, celebrated in Paris in 1889, decided that this event should be remembered worldwide. So thanks to those guys, today we are able to celebrate that we have rights as workers. And we are able to do it, paradoxically, not working!!