May Day is an opportunity to commit to solidarity on workers' rights

Today — May 1— is May Day: an opportunity to remember the hard-won fight by workers and the union movement to secure the eight hour working day and resolve to improve workers' conditions for the future.

May Day dates back to 1880s. The Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions' national convention in Chicago in 1884 proclaimed that "eight hours shall constitute a legal day's labor from and after May 1, 1886." On May 1, 1886, more than 300,000 US workers walked off their jobs in the first May Day celebration in history (source: The Industrial Workers of the World website).

Australia's first May Day event was a march, held in 1891 by striking shearers at Barcaldine, Queensland.

Since achieving the eight-hour working day, May Day events have campaigned for a range of working conditions and social issues, plus honoured the struggles of the past.

Members are urged to join in solidarity at the Sydney May Day event, to be held on Sunday 7 May. The theme for the event is ‘Fighting Inequality’, with a focus on workers’ rights.

Speeches will be heard in Hyde Park North from noon. A march will then head down to Prince Alfred Park for food, live music and entertainment.

In recent years we’ve seen the gap between the rich and the poor widen, cuts to penalty rates with 700,000 workers’ losing up to $6,000 a year, the loss of decent secure employment, the soaring costs of living and the introduction of the ABCC.

With so much at stake for all workers, May Day is our opportunity to come together and stand up for a better future.

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