International Workers’ Day is also known as Labour Day or May Day. This day was instituted in 1886 and this year is the 133rd celebration of it. Many countries, including Zimbabwe, recognise 1st May as a public holiday.
The 1st May was chosen internationally to commemorate the day after the Haymarket Affair in Chicago 1886. (The United States of America however celebrates the day on 1 September instead). The Haymarket Affair was a strike in which workers demonstrated for an eight hour work day. This led to loss of several lives. Since then, May Day has been a day where workers air their grievances, or choose to demonstrate or go on strike, and a time where governments should reflect on worker policies.
Workers’ Day 2019
This year’s international theme is Uniting Workers for Social and Economic Advancement. In a world that is conflicted between having maximum output yet trying to balance the rights of workers, the theme is timely. Joe Hills, a labour activist, stated that:
“If the workers took a notion they could stop all speeding trains;
Every ship upon the ocean they can tie with mighty chains.
Every wheel in the creation, every mine and every mill;
Fleets and armies of the nation, will at their command stand still.”
The theme Uniting Workers for Social and Economic Advancement is of particular importance to Zimbabwe which aims to refurbish the economy and uplift its peoples’ standard of living to a middle income society by 2030. The day is a reminder to refocus our attention on the work that is ahead of us and that advancement can only come through working together. It is also a reminder that united workers can achieve sound working conditions. Workers are the backbone of society and deserve support from all to facilitate better conditions for all workers at all levels. Without united workers there can be no social and economic advancement. And there can be no sustainable economic improvement without social justice.
Veritas joins the world in commemorating this day.