International Labor Day is marked as a commemoration of major labor protests held in Chicago (USA) on May 1, 1886, when workers were killed in clashes with police and eight workers were sentenced to death.
That, the 19th century was marked by the heartless exploitation of workers. Low wages and hours of daily work, from 12 to 18 hours for adults and even children, exhausted people who, in all countries of developed capitalism, demanded more dignified working and living conditions in strikes. Strike movements have gained the most momentum in the United States.
On May 1, 1886, about 40,000 workers protested in Chicago, highlighting the requirements symbolized in three figures: 8 hours of work, 8 hours of rest, and 8 hours of cultural education. Police intervened with weapons and killed six and wounded about 50 workers. Many protesters were arrested and strike leaders were brought to justice. Five were sentenced to death and three were sentenced to long-term imprisonment.
In memory of the bloodshed in Chicago, it was decided at the 1st Congress of the Second International in 1889 that it would hold workers’ protests each year on May 1st. As early as 1890, this date became the International Day of General Solidarity for Workers.
In the coming years, workers in the western countries, through the mediation of trade unions and in agreement with the employers, ie the state, have achieved notable successes in the fight for their rights, and over time, social tensions have subsided.
Soon, as a symbol of the martyrdom of those killed in Chicago, a red carnation was accepted as a symbol of the workers’ rebellion.
Workers in Sarajevo asked the Austro-Hungarian authorities in 1905 for permission to mark May 1. The request was denied, but the persistent workers fought for the first employment contract in Sarajevo, which included a ten-hour working time (until then, working hours were 12 to 14 hours) and a wage increase. In Sarajevo in May 1906, the workers went on a general strike, which closed the garrison, representing the strongest and most massive workers’ action under Austro-Hungarian rule. From May 1, 1907, workers in Sarajevo and the rest of the country celebrated May 1 – International Labor Day.
Today is May 1 marked as the day of the struggle for the basic human rights of every worker, or in free translation, the day of the struggle for the right to a life worthy of man. The fight for workers’ and human rights is still ongoing today and it is very likely that our children and their children’s children will fight for their rights in their own way.
In our region, the celebration of May Day is more associated with barbecues and celebrations in nature, and we remember less about the history and the struggle for workers’ rights, so it is important to be reminded why this day is important…