Tag Archives: international workers day

May Day – International Workers’ Day

Many of us do not know or understand the true origins of May Day – International Workers’ Day. Just over 100 years ago, the working class struggled to gain the 8-hour work day. Working conditions were harsh, and it was common to work 10 to 16 hours a day. For years, many people died and suffered horrible injuries in the workplace.

On May 1, 1886, more than 300,000 workers across the United States walked off their jobs in the first May Day celebration in history. We must remember that people fought for the rights and dignities we enjoy today, and there is still a lot more to fight for.

May Day in Bangladesh on May 1, 2013.

Photo: Ghetty Images – International Worker’s Day Rally in Bangladesh on May 1, 2013.

May Day (Today) in:

One thousand factory workers and opposers to the Cambodia National Rescue Party gathered on the streets outside the Cambodian capital’s Freedom Park. These workers are fighting for a higher minimum wage and labor rights.

Around 50,000 workers intend to hold rallies in the Indonesian capital over the next two days and police have deployed nearly 20,000 officers to maintain order. Workers are fighting against stagnant incomes, poor retirement and health insurances and rising transportation and housing costs.

There are many other protests and rallies occurring right now all over the world. We must let the origins of May Day serve as a reminder – many lives were sacrificed so that we could have the 8-hour day, include Saturday as part of the weekend, as well as safe working conditions and child labor laws.

There are many workers in the developing world (like Phnom Penh, Jakarta, and many others) still fighting for these rights, and we must do our part to support them. Whether you vow to not shop at stores that purchase from sweatshop factories, or choose to support fair wages by shopping fair trade.

fair trade definition

Image: fortheloveofjustice.com

Companies like Seven Hopes United support artisan cooperatives that are Fair Trade Federation members. Fair Trade Federation members are held to a higher standard, insisting that workers be treated with dignity and respect, have safe working conditions, no child labor, and fair wages. There are many other fair trade principles that ensure the rights of workers and better their communities as well.
fair trade principle 1fair trade principle 2fair trade principle 3

We as consumers have the power to create change – we can demand better working conditions and fair wages just by purchasing fair trade products. It may seem like such a small gesture, but it makes a world of difference to the artisans, farmers, and their families. This is why we celebrate and remember May Day.