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May Day (International Workers' Day)

Authored by Alice Broome
Published on 1st May, 2023 1 min read

May Day (International Workers' Day)

Today (01/05/2023) is International Workers’ Day (or ‘May Day’), an annual event observed worldwide to celebrate the history of organised labour. The day is often utilised to promote current campaigns for better working and living conditions. The first May Day event occurred in 1889, to commemorate the victims of the ‘Haymarket Affair’ of 1886. That year, campaigners in support of an eight-hour working day had gathered in Chicago to protest. Following an outbreak of violence, eleven people died and 175 people were injured, and the authorities subsequently executed four of the protestors. 

These reprisals marked the start of 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, the celebration of May Day has been widespread across groups, including socialists, communists, and anarchists. Trade unions in many countries (including the UK) continue to organise and participate in May Day demonstrations, to demand fairer working conditions and wages.


Authored by Alice Broome

Alice Broome

Alice Broome is an Editorial Assistant at British Online Archives. She is a Philosophy, Politics, and Economics graduate from the University of York.


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Notable Days

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The British Online Archives Notable Days diary is a platform intended to mark key dates and events throughout the year. The posts draw attention to historical events and figures, as well as recurring cultural traditions and international awareness days, in both religious and secular contexts.

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