The 1th May’s morning my boyfriend and me were camping in Babuna, a fresh and quiet river next to Veles which gives the name to the amazing piece of land and wood surrounding. Nonetheless we decided to leave that paradise and by crossing it on the way to come back we noticed that in the meantime a lot of people were arriving there to celebrate the First May. The line of cars which were turning towards Babuna was endless and you could hear people singing traditional songs and rakjia jingling in the bottles. I thought it was really good that people were enjoying such amazing nature, but maybe that day deserved something more. I shared this thought by speaking loud. My boyfriend who was there next to me reflected on it a bit and he confessed me that he’d like to know why we are celebrating this date. “It is about work and workers, ok. But what else?”.
Therefore, here we are. The origin of First May’s holiday is obviously in the workers’ struggles for their rights which began during Nineteenth century. Thanks to the Industrial Revolution the work became factory’s work and a lot of workers started finding themselves gathered all together in a same place every day for many hours per day . In this way it happened they started talking each other and comparing their lifestyle. In doing so they realized little by little they had same problems and same needs. They have recognized each other. They became aware every day more that their inhumane working condition had were imposed from factories owners just to make their own interests and profits maximum by making minimum their right to enjoy the life. By reflecting so they joined up all together and they started protesting with strikes and claims. The first claim on which they agreed was about the reduction of the working day. If we’d like bother ourselves to the point of check the “Factory Acts” which were enacted in the country mother of Industrial Revolution, England, we will discover that the Factory Act of 1833 for instance fixed the normal working day in 15 hours, from 5.30 a.m til 20.30. This was the official prescription of the law but often the working day was lasting more everywhere, in England like in Italy, in America like in France. When the workers realized that this working pace wasn’t humanly sustainable neither fair, they started organizing themselves and protesting. Thanks a huge manifestation of ten thousand workers who had paraded through the streets to claim this right, in 1867 the Illinois State enforced the eight-hour working day law which it had been introduced the year before. From there the conquer of eight hours working began spreading itself slowly in the others American country as well.
On 1th May 1866 a general strike til the bitter end was called in order to conquer the right to the eight hours working day in whole USA. There was a peaceful manifestation also in Chicago. Here police shot at demonstrators by murdering some of them and by wounding a lot of the others. As reaction Anarchists arranged a protesting manifestation in the Haymarket Square. At certain point a bomb exploded in the square by causing a lot of deaths. There will never be clear who really triggered that dynamite bomb. The police, always poor of fantasy, decided at usual to incriminate anarchists for the happening arrested some of them. After a sham trial, seven anarchists were sentenced to death.
They became famous as “Martyrs of Chicago”. August Spies, before dying, stated: “Cheers, the day will come when our silence will be stronger than the voices that today you are suffocating with death!”. The Chicago uprising and the murder of young workers guilty just of believing in a fairer and more equal society impressed all the world. Little by little the date of 1th May was adopted worldwide as international holiday of workers. On this day we want to commemorate the innocent workers executed from American State in 1887 but in general all the workers who have struggled to carry on their claims and make this society every day a bit more fair. We want to remind their commitment, their recklessness, their enlightenment and their fortitude. One day celebration is obviously not enough, but maybe to start we should try to stop at least on 1th May and think about the current working condition. We should try to reflect on what isn’t cool with us, on what is not bearable, on what is really unfair. We should learn from those past workers by joining again and by organizing ourselves in order to defend what they conquered and to carry on the path of making our lives and this society better.
Cheerful outgoing to the countryside and picnic in themselves won’t change our working agreement neither our wage.
Long live May 1st!
Long live to workers!
Long live to those ones believe in a better world and do something to achieve it.
Written by: Vanessa TORCASSO