The History of Workers Day

The History of Workers Day

Workers day occurs every year on 1st May and is a public holiday in South Africa and other countries. The day commemorates workers and the establishment of fair labour practices around the world.

In South Africa, the movement shifted from protesting for fair labour practices to human rights practices. The 1st of May in South Africa now resembles more than just workers’ rights. It is also part of the struggle for freedom. Much like other notable days, such as Youth day on June 16th and Heritage day on September 24th, there is a history of bloodshed and violence. In 1950, strikers clashed with police which led to the death of 18 people across Soweto.

This common theme was also present at the beginning of the labour movement in 1886 in the USA when police clashed with protesters. In the series of clashes over a few days 8 people were killed by police. One of the protesters later threw a dynamite bomb at police killing 7 officers and 4 civilians.

We had a discussion on the matter with Gavin Buys of Gavin Buys HR and Business consulting. Watch the video here;

Now in 2019 we are in a position where businesses have become more fair and transparent. We have learned many lessons about leadership and inclusivity. Not only do we have clear laws and rights that need to be upheld, we also have great leaders who can inspire people to do great things.

The world is not perfect, but we have come so far. Let’s take this workers day as a reminder that so much has been achieved.

More Reading

To read more about the history of Worker’s day visit the following sites;

The Haymarket Affair; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haymarket_affair

Workers day in South Africa;  https://www.sahistory.org.za/article/history-may-day-south-africa and https://publicholidays.net.za/workers-day/

International Worker’s day; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Workers’_Day

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