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International Labour Day: Find Out The Chilling Reason May Day Is Celebrated In India

Labour Day observed on May 1 is a public holiday declared by countries all over the world to pay tribute to the contribution of labourers all over the world.

labour day

International Labour Day is a public holiday declared by countries all over the world. It is observed every year on May 1 to pay tribute to the contribution and ceaseless efforts of labourers and general workforce across all walks of life.

While different countries such as the US, UK, Cuba and China celebrate International Labour Day for various reasons such as revolting against industrial exploitation, rising of the working class, and coming together as a union to fight against "unjust" systems by demanding better wages, improved working conditions, paid leaves and other non-financial incentives, in India its origins are more humble.

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Significant achievements of May Day

  • Establishing Workers' Unions
  • Eight-hour workday movement (before its formalisation, employers made labourers work for 15 hours or more, often without extra pay)
  • Integral part of WWI and WWII- recruited large numbers to enlist and fight for wars

In 1884 the American Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions demanded an eight-hour workday which resulted in a riot in Chicago's Haymarket. Two years later, the date was specifically chosen as International Labour Day to commemorate and recognise the efforts of all workers and police officers who were killed in the riot.

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Origins of India's Labour Day

While the first-ever Labour Day was celebrated on May 1, 1886, the movement only saw significant momentum in India in 1923, when its premier event was organised in Madras (Chennai) by the Labour Kisan Party of Hindustan. It was also the first time the iconic 'Red Flag' commonly associated with Communism and labour factions worldwide was recorded to be used in the country.
May Day is further linked to several factions and movements for communists and socialist parties in the country.

Incidentally, May 1 is also Maharashtra Day and Gujarat Day, as on this day in 1960, the State of Bombay split into Maharastra and Gujarat, principally on the basis of linguistic difference.

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Labour Kisan Party of Hindustan

LKPH was a political party founded in Madras in 1923 by Singaravelu Chettiar. A major face in the Indian Independence movement, in the South, Chettiar formed the first trade union in India which later became a political party. Although initially under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi, the party quickly joined the budding communist movement in the country; Chettiar later became one of the founding fathers of the Communist Party of India.

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