1st May is International Workers Day. At 32 years old I only became aware of this when I was in Hamburg and saw a parade of thousands of people wearing red and waving banners displaying messages of support for workers. In my defence, Workers Day is not a big deal in the UK like it is in Germany where it’s a public holiday and everyone gets the day off. I think this is a shame as workers’ rights seem to have been overlooked in recent years in favour of a slick millennial makeover of capitalism, the Zuckerberg hoodies and pool tables in offices betraying the true ethos of many of these companies – that greed and growth at all costs is to be admired.
1st May was chosen to be International Workers Day to commemorate the Haymarket affair in Chicago in 1886 when police acted to disperse a crowd which had assembled in support of a strike in favour of an eight hour working day. According to Wikipedia, someone threw a bomb into the crowd, the police responded by firing shots, and the event lead to the death of civilians and police offers. Labour leaders and sympathisers were later rounded-up and hanged following a trial that was seen as a miscarriage of justice. Since then, 1st May was established as a day to recognise and celebrate workers’ rights and many countries around the world have the day off work to do this.
Not in the UK though – here 1st May is more famous for washing your face with dew and dancing around a Maypole! I wish International Workers Day was given as much importance here as it is around the world but in the meantime here’s the photos of the parade we stumbled upon in Hamburg.