International Workers Day

Quick Facts - GB

2024 Date1 May 2024
2025 Date1 May 2025

International Workers Day

International Workers Day in 2024
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International Workers Day History

International Workers' Day, also known as Labour Day or May Day, promotes and celebrates the rights of workers worldwide. It is a day to recognise the achievements and struggles of the labour movement and to raise awareness about the importance of decent working conditions, fair wages, and social protection. It is also an opportunity to advocate for policies that support workers and contribute to social and economic development.

The history of International Workers' Day can be traced back to 1889, when socialist and labour organisations chose the first of May as a day to commemorate the Haymarket affair of 1886 in Chicago, which saw a peaceful workers' rally turn violent. In the United Kingdom, May Day has been celebrated since the late 19th century, first as a traditional spring festival but later also embracing the fight for workers' rights. The UK has made significant progress over the years, with the introduction of policies such as the minimum wage and stronger labour rights legislation, but the observance remains relevant as employment challenges and the debate over zero-hours contracts continue to evolve.

International Workers' Day is observed on the first Monday of May, which is also a bank holiday known as 'May Day Bank Holiday'. Many people use the day for leisure activities, attending local community events or spending time with family and friends. Trade unions and workers' organisations also hold demonstrations and rallies, addressing contemporary issues faced by workers in the country.

International Workers Day Facts

  • According to the UK Office for National Statistics (ONS), in 2023, there were 32 million workers in the UK. in 2022, there were estimated to be over 3.3 billion workers worldwide.
  • According to Trading Economics, in 2023, the unemployment rate was 4.3%. .02% more compared to 2022’s unemployment rate.
  • According to GrabJobs, in 2023, the most in-demand job in the UK is the project manager position with over 22,000 job openings.
  • According to the Office for National Statistics, in January of 2024, there were more than 33 million employed people in the UK. In 2023, there were over 30 million employees in the UK.
  • Approximately 6.5 million workers in the UK are members of trade unions, which play a significant role in advocating for workers' rights and negotiating fair wages and working conditions.

International Workers Day Top Events and Things to Do

  • Read The People: The Rise and Fall of the Working Class, 1910-2010 by Selina Todd.
  • Some towns and villages host traditional May Day celebrations that might include Morris dancing, maypole dancing, and crowning a May King and Queen.
  • Oxford University holds a unique May Day tradition where crowds gather beneath the Magdalen College tower to listen to the college choir sing at dawn.
  • Read The Precariat: The New Dangerous Class by Guy Standing.
  • Take advantage of the warmer weather and visit one of the UK's many National Parks or gardens such as Kew Gardens in London, Snowdonia National Park in Wales or the Lake District in England.

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