Haymarket Massacre in Chicago on May 1, 1886 whose commemoration gave birth to declaration of May 1 as International Workers Day.
The eight-hour day movement advocated eight hours for work, eight hours for recreation, and eight hours for rest. This was in reaction to the previous labor practice wherein workers were being forced to work 12-14 hours a day, six days a week. From Wikipedia, we learned that 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, which gained broad support from workers, called for a general strike to achieve the goal due to failure in legislative methods.
But on the scheduled date for mobilization, what started as a peaceful rally ended into a tragedy when in the evening while the police were trying to disperse the crowd, someone threw a bomb killing several policeman immediately. The police retaliated by firing shoots. Thereafter, a rampage occurred resulting to death and injury of both police and demonstrators workers.
In the Philippines, the first official celebration of Labor Day was held on May 1, 1913, when 36 labor unions convened a labor congress at Cine Oriente on CM Recto Street, then known as Azcarraga, in Manila. This gave birth to Congreso Obrero de Filipinas. It was also in 1913,when a law establishing Labor Day was passed.
However, according to historical records, as early as 1903 when the country was still under the US colonial government , Filipino workers were already fighting for their rights, specifically, the increase of wages. Reportedly, over 100,000 workers organized by the Union Obrera Democratica de Filipinas (Democratic Labor Union of the Philippines) trooped to Malacañang on May 1, 1903 for anti-imperialist rally while pressing for workers’ economic rights. Prior to this, the Union's leaders met with William Howard Taft to demand that May 1 be declared as Labor Day. But it was not granted. Neither was their request to organize a rally. Still they pursued it. Consequently, the Union president Dominador Gomez was arrested for charges of illegal association and sedition.
Labor Day recognizes the efforts of workers worldwide. ©iStockphoto.com/Marisa Allegra Williams
As we honor the workers and the entire labor sector today for their role in the national and global economic activities, we also recognize the role of labor movement in our development. Many of the benefits and rights that we enjoy today in our respective employment are result of their struggle.