May 1st – a reminder of a continued effort

Celebrating May 1st as Labor Day is common knowledge in Pakistan. But not many people know the story behind it.
This day is celebrated to pay homage to the martyrs of Chicago who laid down their lives in 1886 for the rights of the working class. They protested against the exploitations of the working class and the refusal of trade union rights. The working class at that time had no fixed maximum working hours, no job security and no insurance cover in case of accidents happening at workplaces. Whenever the workers tried raising their voice for increase in their wages, they were punished by their employers instead.

The demonstration that was held in Chicago in 1886 was also brutally dealt with. Many workers lost their lives as a result but their efforts bore fruits. As a result, in 1889, a congress of socialist parties met in Paris and opted to support the labor movement’s demand of an 8-hour work day.

Since then May 1st has become the day for commemoration of the sacrifice of those protestors and the resulting improvement in the rights of the working class.

In Pakistan, this day is celebrated with marches, speeches and conferences held by labor unions and labor force. Rallies are carried out to push the government for workers’ rights.


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