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Thread: Workers day

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    just me duncan drennan's Avatar
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    Workers day

    I was quite interested to find out the origins of Worker's Day.

    Today is Worker’s Day, and for many of us it’s just a holiday. The date stems from the decision of a US federation of unions to set May 1 1886 as the date by which the eight-hour workday was to become standard. Organised labour had struggled for many years, in many different countries, to reduce working hours, after the Industrial Revolution commonly saw 6-day weeks of up to 16 hours. Women and children (but not men) were granted 10-hour work days in England in 1847, and the French achieved 12-hour work days in 1848.

    The target had not been met as the deadline of May 1 1886 drew near, and rallies and strikes were organised. In Chicago, these culminated in the Haymarket Affair (also known as the Haymarket Riot, or Haymarket Massacre), in which a number of people were killed. It is this event that cemented the day in the modern calendar, as workers groups worldwide chose to demonstrate on May 1 in commemoration of the dead.
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    Site Caretaker Dave A's Avatar
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    And not a word about the former USSR's adoption of May Day as its public holiday in chief. Literally the day to roll out the big guns!
    The trouble with opportunity is it normally comes dressed up as work.

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    just me duncan drennan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave A View Post
    And not a word about the former USSR's adoption of May Day as its public holiday in chief. Literally the day to roll out the big guns!
    Interesting. I checked out wikipedia too which had much the same as above. What exactly is the story with the USSR?
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    Site Caretaker Dave A's Avatar
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    Hmm. During the Cold War, May Day became the traditional roll out of the military might of the USSR through the streets of Moscow and was very much associated with communism. Have you never seen footage of it?

    Big crowds waving red flags watching massive amounts of tanks and soldiers marching past in a massed parade of truly impressive size.

    It was the very symbol of success for the workers revolution, not to mention morale boosting intimidation against the western capitalists.
    Last edited by Dave A; 02-May-08 at 06:31 PM.
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    just me duncan drennan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave A View Post
    Hmm. During the Cold War, May Day became the traditional roll out of the military might of the USSR through the streets of Moscow and was very much associated with communism. Have you never seen footage of it?
    I've seen similar footage (although probably mostly associated with China and North Korea), but never heard about the association with May Day.

    I'm probably just too young to have seen much of this - I was only in Std 4 when the cold war ended.
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    Silver Member Vincent's Avatar
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    Just goes to show what a bit of Nationalist Government propaganda can do. I always thought May 1st was associated with USSR and communism.
    Thanks for that bit Duncan.
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    Site Caretaker Dave A's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vincent View Post
    I always thought May 1st was associated with USSR and communism.
    It certainly seems both you and I have an inflated idea of the connection, at least judging by the references above.
    The trouble with opportunity is it normally comes dressed up as work.

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    Platinum Member Marq's Avatar
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    Mayday is certainly an interesting day created through Religion and Politics.

    It seems Pagans celebrated it as a day of romp, then apparently Early Christians tried it to get some pomp,then it was banned by a Puritan Parliament for being too Merry then the Labour Movement used this day as a rallying cry, now it stumbles along with no real meaning anymore and just an excuse for a holiday.

    As Duncan found - the 1886 story of the 8 hour workday in the US started the labour day side, but the interesting part is since the communists took the day on as their own the USA does not see it as a holiday but have labour day on the 1st of September instead.

    The link to the communist story seems to be related to the Soviet Union and its Eastern Bloc allies having signed a security pact in the Polish capital, Warsaw, after a three-day conference in 1955 - 14 may actually but moved to the 1st to play politics with the Americans during the cold war era.

    So its a mixed bag and the choice is yours as to whatever takes your fancy on the day. I think I'll do the maypole thing myself and believe that workers day should be just that - a chance to increase productivity and get to work.

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