Lens on Labour Day
The world readies for May Day in different ways
International Workers’ Day (also known as May Day) is a celebration of the international labour movement. May 1 is a national holiday in more than 80 countries and celebrated unofficially in many other countries. The first May Day celebration in India was organised in Madras (Chennai) by the Labour Kisan Party of Hindustan on May 1, 1923. This was also the first time the red flag was used in India.
The party leader Singaravelu Chettiar made arrangements to celebrate May Day in two places in 1923. One meeting was held at the beach opposite the Madras High Court; the other meeting was held at the Triplicane beach. The Hindu newspaper, published from Madras reported, Triumph of Labour at the Marina Beach. The Labour Kisan party has introduced May Day celebrations in Chennai.
Comrade Singaravelar presided over the meeting. A resolution was passed stating that the government should declare May Day as a holiday. The president of the party explained the non-violent principles of the party. There was a request for financial aid. It was emphasized that workers of the world must unite to achieve independence.
May Day is a nationwide bank and public holiday in India. The holiday is tied to labour movements for communist and socialist political parties. In Maharashtra and Gujarat, it is officially called Maharashtra Day (Maharashtra Din) and Gujarat Day respectively, since on this day in 1960 each attained statehood, after the old Bombay State became divided on linguistic lines.
Manila, PHILIPPINES: Filipino activists apply finishing touches on a mural that will be used at the Labor Day protests, at their headquarters in Manila. Workers and activists will march on Philippine streets marking May Day to protest the government’s migrant labour policy and demand higher wages amid rising prices for basic commodities. Pics/AFP
Colombo, SRI LANKA: A Sri Lankan labourer pulls a cart laden with sacks of potatoes at the main market in Colombo on the eve of the Indian Ocean nation marking International Labour Day. Sri Lankan trade unions are promising to turn May Day rallies as protests against sharp increases in electricity tariffs announced late April
Beirut, LEBANON: Foreign nationals working as domestics take part in a parade to mark Labour Day and to highlight their plight in the Lebanese capital. Beirut. According to a recent UN Labour Agency report, an estimated 600,000 people have been ‘tricked and trapped’ into forced employment in the Middle East, many of them also sexually exploited
Berlin, GERMANY: Workers fix wooden panels on the facade of a bank in Berlin’s Friedrichshain district, to protect the building from damage, as preparations are underway for May festivities. Thousands of leftists, trade unionists and workers traditionally take to the streets of the German capital on the occasion of International Labour Day