Today marks International Workers’ Day – a look back at its origins

Today marks International Workers’ Day – a look back at its origins

Today marks International Workers’ Day – a look back at its origins

Written by Staff Writer

01 May, 2015 | 6:47 am

Today is International Workers’ Day also known as May Day.

One hundred and twenty nine (129) years ago the streets of Chicag0 were crowded by a large gathering of labourers who were rising up against injustice.

This day later transformed to being the day that represents the working class or the labourers.

The first of May was chosen to be International Workers’ Day in order to commemorate the May 4, 1886 Haymarket affair in Chicago.

Police were trying to disperse a public assembly during a general strike for the eight-hour workday.

The protest saw the participation of over 1000 and by the third day the crowd increased to 65,000.

May 3, 1886 was a decisive day of the protest as an unidentified person threw a bomb at the police. The police responded by firing on the workers.

In the internationally publicised legal proceedings that followed, eight anarchists were convicted of conspiracy.

The evidence was that one of the defendants may have built the bomb, but none of those on trial had thrown it.

Seven were sentenced to death and one to a term of 15 years in prison.

In October 1884, a convention held by the Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions unanimously set May 1, 1886, as the date by which the eight-hour work day would become standard.

As the chosen date approached, U.S. labor unions prepared for a general strike in support of the eight-hour day.

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