Today (01/05/2022) is International Workers’ Day (or ‘May Day’), an annual event observed all over the world to celebrate the history of organised labour, and to campaign for better working and living conditions. The first May Day event took place in 1889, to commemorate the victims of the so-called‘ Haymarket Affair’ of 1886. That year, campaigners in support of an eight-hour working day had gathered in Chicago to protest and, following an outbreak of violence, the authorities had subsequently executed four of the protestors.
These reprisals marked the start of a severe repression of the labour movement in the United States and, in response, May Day was transformed into an annual day of protest, and an affirmation of workers’ rights. Since its inception, May Day has been celebrated by socialists, communists, and anarchists, and trade unions in many countries (including the UK) continue to organise and participate in May Day demonstrations, to demand a fairer society.