SA celebrates Worker’s Day

Internationally, thousands of years ago, the working classes were exploited and forced to work very long hours under grueling conditions to earn their bread and butter.

England’s Robert Owen raised the demand for a ten-hour day as early as 1810.  Women and children were only granted a ten-hour day thirty years later. 

Forty eight years later, the French workers demand for a 12-hour day was eventually granted.

A lustrum later, Parisian congress called for an international demonstration to campaign for an eight-hour day in keeping with the American Federation of Labour’s 1886 demonstrations of 1 May.

The call was a resounding success and workers in many countries marked the celebration of labourers rights on May Day.

Thankfully, after a hue and a cry, the demand for an eight-day was granted. The logic was that “eight hours’ daily labor is more than enough for any man to perform”.

Ironically, while May Day gained momentum across the world it lost steam in the United States where the celebration originated. The United States celebrates their Labour Day on the first of September.   

Here in South Africa,  Worker’s Day became recognized more especially after our 1994 democratic elections.  A worthy journey decades later.

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31 thoughts on “SA celebrates Worker’s Day

  1. We also celebrate it in September in Canada. In the US in particular there’s a weird anti-union sentiment that tries to tie the idea to socialism and that idea to the former Soviet Union. So “socialist” has become an insult applied even to countries with more social programs like Canada and Sweden. So now “Labor day” in the US is viewed more as a free day off. “You work (labor) hard all year…here’s an extra day off to have an end of summer picnic!”
    Now that I think of it the time of year could also play a part in when we celebrate it. Right now it is 6 degrees and raining outside here in Toronto. Moving it to September when we have no holiday means we get a nice day to take off and enjoy. We put it near the weekend so we can get a three day weekend. (We will get Victoria Day at the end of the month in Canada and Americans will get Memorial Day – weather should be nice by then for both). It’s funny how transparent we are here about scheduling holidays in such a way as to get about 1 long weekend a month.

    Liked by 1 person

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