History of International Workers' Day

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  • Topic: Trade union, Labour Day, Labour movement
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  • Published : July 18, 2010
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There is much to study on the history of International Workers' Day. However, it was clear that it was born from the struggle for the eight-hour day.

'In 1884, the Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions passed a resolution stating that eight hours would constitute a legal day's work from and after May 1, 1886. The resolution called for a general strike to achieve the goal, since legislative methods had already failed. With workers being forced to work ten, twelve, and fourteen hours a day, rank-and-file support for the eight-hour movement grew rapidly, despite the indifference and hostility of many union leaders. By April 1886, 250,000 workers were involved in the May Day movement.'

'Working classes have existed since the development of agriculture, about ten thousand years ago. Serfs, slaves, tradespeople and others were forced to turn over the fruits of their labor to an exploiting class. But the modern working class - the class of "free labor," whose exploitation is hidden by the wage system - is only several hundred years old. Although its exploitation is masked, it is no less brutal. Men, women and children are forced to work long hours in miserable conditions just to eke out a bare subsistence.' (Andy McInerney, in Liberation & Marxism, issue no. 27, Spring 1996)

ILO: a core labour standards

The International Labour Organization (ILO) was created in 1919, at the end of the First World War, at the time of the Peace Conference which convened first in Paris, then at Versaillesneed for such an organization had been advocated in the nineteenth century by two industrialists, Robert Owen (1771-1853) of Wales and Daniel Legrand . The (1783-1859) of France.

The ILO's work cover humanitarian, political, as well as economic aspects in order to tackle workers' issue in a holistic perspective.

Workers' Key Concern

Globalisation - during the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Ministerial Conference in Doha, Qatar on 9 November 2001,...
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