International Workers’ Day provides trade unionists from across the globe with the opportunity to come together to celebrate the social and economic achievements of the labour movement in ensuring improved human and labour rights.

Also known as May Day, this is not just a mystical festival on the pagan calendar, but a celebration of workers’ rights and how trade unions have made a genuine, positive impact on the lives, conditions and pay of working people.

This year, May Day takes place 125 years after one of the UK’s largest labour protests where hundreds of thousands of workers demonstrated in Hyde Park over working conditions. Their protest culminated in the start of an eight-hour working day in the UK, which came as a major turning point during a time when individuals could spend double that time in gruelling workplaces.

Originally considered a one-off, solemn affair, May Day has flourished to become a celebration of the British workforce and workers’ rights, but it also acts as a stark reminder that the fight for justice for working people, nationally and internationally, is not over.

Since 1978 May Day has been a bank holiday thanks to a decision by the Labour government of the day and continues to be a focal point for campaigns for employment rights.

Tom Jones, head of policy at Thompsons Solicitors said, “While over the years there have been great strides in the fight for workers’ rights and improved workplace conditions, today’s workforce faces different, but equally challenging, obstacles to those of their forefathers 125 years ago.

“Too many workers in Britain today are having to work in a low-wage, insecure economy. The government of the last five years has constantly sought to erode workers’ rights with many of society’s most vulnerable people forced to accept work on zero-hours or short-hours contracts. The Tory and Lib Dem coalition also introduced changes in the last five years which have had a major impact on access to justice for working people who have been sacked, discriminated against or injured at work.

“Since our foundation in 1921, Thompsons Solicitors has campaigned for and championed workers’ rights. Alongside our trade union partners, that remains at the very heart of what we do. May Day provides a focal point for the labour movement to remember what and who we are fighting for.”