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April 18, 2014 / politicsbitesize

May Day

MayDayMay Day is traditionally celebrated on May 1st and has its origins in the Pagan festival of Beltane, which falls between the Spring Equinox and the Summer Solstice. Today it is more commonly known as International Workers’ Day and is associated with commemorating the 1886 Haymarket affair in Chicago.

A peaceful rally by workers in support of an 8-hour day in Haymarket Square, Chicago descended into chaos when an unidentified person threw a dynamite bomb at police. The blast from the bomb and the gunfire that followed it resulted in the deaths of seven police officers and at least four civilians. ( Eight years later, the May Day Riots of 1894 in Cleveland, Ohio and the Pullman Strike in Illinois prompted U.S. President Grover Cleveland to propose a bill that would make the 1st of May a national public holiday.

Throughout the nineteenth century, the working classes in many countries were embroiled in a constant struggle to obtain an 8-hour day. It was common to work between 10 and 16 hours a day, often in very unsafe working conditions.

At the 1904 International Socialist Conference a call was made to ‘all Social Democratic Party organizations and trade unions of all countries to demonstrate energetically on May First for the legal establishment of the 8-hour day, for the class demands of the proletariat, and for universal peace.’ It was the series of unemployed workers’ riots in the US and the demands made by the socialist movements across the world that triggered the eventual change to employment law.

If it weren’t for the courage of nineteenth century workers to stand up and fight for an 8-hour day, our employment today might still be long and unsafe. This May Day come and celebrate the achievements of the past by supporting demonstrations across the UK. The People’s Assembly are holding one in London – details below.


London May Day march & rally

Trade Union Rights – Human Rights – International Solidarity

London May Day 2014 honours Bob Crow & Tony Benn

May Day 2014 is the day to celebrate workers’ achievements and to strengthen our opposition to the world-wide attack on workers’ rights and standards of living.

May Day across the world is the day for workers’ solidarity. As a working day in Britain it calls on workers to show commitment to their fight against cuts and attacks on living standards.

2014 needs to be a big show of solidarity and fight against attacks on us.

WHEN: May 01, 2014 at 12pm – 4pm

WHERE: Clerkenwell Green, London EC1R 0DU




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