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May Day (International Workers' Day)

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Authored by Alice Broome
Published on 1st May, 2024 1 min read

May Day (International Workers' Day)

Today (01/05/2024) is International Workers’ Day, or “May Day”. Observed annually across the globe, it celebrates the history of organised labour. The day is often utilised to promote ongoing campaigns for better working and living conditions. The first May Day occurred in 1889. It commemorated the victims of the “Haymarket Affair” of 1886. 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. The authorities subsequently executed four of the protestors. 

These reprisals led to the labour movement in the United States being repressed. 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 groups that embrace different ideologies, including socialists, communists, and anarchists. In many countries, including the UK, trade unions continue to organise and participate in May Day demonstrations. They use this event to demand fairer working conditions and wages.

Authored by Alice Broome

Alice Broome

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

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Notable Days


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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