Labour movement celebrated with May Day bank holiday29 April 2016
Representatives from across the labour movement come together on International Workers’ Day to show solidarity with those who strived for better working conditions in the past and to show that the fight for working people’s rights goes on
Trade unionists and representatives from the labour movement will join together this May Day to celebrate campaigners’ achievements in improving the rights of workers across the globe.
International Workers’ Day, also known as May Day, is a longstanding tradition that dates back to the ‘Haymarket affair’ in Chicago 130 years ago when 40,000 workers went out on strike over securing the eight hour working day.
1890 saw the beginning of the movement in the UK, with hundreds of thousands of workers protesting in Hyde Park in a bid to improve working conditions. The protest resulted in the law changing to reduce the number of hours people had to work, essentially halving their workload.
May Day not only acts as a celebration of these victories, but also as a reminder that more still needs to be done to help people who are subjected to abuse, unsafe conditions and poor hours at work.
Since 1978, May Day has been a bank holiday in the UK as a part of changes by the Labour government to acknowledge the importance of the labour movement. It continues to remain a day of contention, with protests around workers’ rights and capitalism.
Rakesh Patel, head of employment rights strategy at Thompsons Solicitors, said: “The difficulties that the UK workforce face may have changed significantly since the London protests in the 19th century, but the message remains as important as ever.
“The rights of working people are being continually eroded by the Tory government. Whether it is zero-hours contracts or reducing employers’ obligations when it comes to health and safety, there are threats to workers’ safety at almost every turn and too many people in Britain are having to work in a low-wage and insecure economy.
“Since our foundation, Thompsons Solicitors has fought for the rights of working people and, along with our trade unions partners, this remains something that is at the heart of our work today. May Day provides a focus for the labour movement to remember how far we have come, but to also remind us of what we are fighting for and who we are fighting against.”
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