Worker's Day

Worker's Day Quick Facts

2020 Date1 May 2020
2021 Date1 May 2021
Worker's Day

Worker's Day History

Worker's Day in South Africa celebrates the role played by trade unions, the Communist Party and other labour movements in the struggle against the Apartheid regime. The day also serves as a celebration of International Workers' Day, an international celebration also known as May Day. May Day commemorates the industrial struggle for an 8-hour work day around the world.

Worker's Day is celebrated annually on May 1st. The first recorded celebration of May Day in South Africa occurred in 1895. It was reportedly was organised by the Johannesburg District Trades Council.

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Worker's Day Facts & Quotes

  • Apartheid was a governing system in South Africa from 1948-1994 that was based on segregation and racial discrimination.
  • South Africa has one of the highest unemployment rates in the world. Currently, approximately 26% of the population is unemployed.
  • Pregnant workers are entitled to 4 months of maternity leave in South Africa. It is not required that employers pay workers during this leave period.
  • In South Africa, unskilled labour accounts for about 29% of all labour in the country.
  • Labour was the first price, the original purchase - Money that was paid for all things. It was not by gold or by silver, but by labour, that all wealth of the world was originally purchased. - Adam Smith, Scottish Philosopher

Worker's Day Top Events and Things to Do

  • Enjoy the long weekend during the South African autumn season. Get out and take advantage of the weather by having a braai with your friends and family.
  • Learn more about the fundamental rights of workers in South Africa. The South African Government provides a comprehensive list of your rights and obligations in the workplace. Read up and know your rights.
  • Watch a documentary about the lack of workers' rights in other countries. Some of our favourites: Santa's Workshop, Rednecks and Culchies and Apple's Broken Promises.
  • Complete a do-it-yourself project. As a day off, you do not have to work for your pay but you can take advantage of the day to do work for yourself, your family, friends or home. Try building something, cleaning up or painting a room.
  • Read a popular book to help shape your perspective of workers' rights. Our favourites include: Gender, Labor and Power in the Global Apparel Industry, Fugitive Denim, Making Sweatshops and The Power to Choose.

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