Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Workers' days

The celebration of the Workers' Day and the International Working Women's Day is closely related to the labour movement and the fight of the workers for the improvement of their working and living conditions. Here you have the history of these two commemorations: 


The 1st of May was established as the Workers' Day to remember the Haymarket Affair in Chicago in 1886. On the 1st of May of that year Chicago workers went on strike demanding  "Eight-hour day with no cut in pay." On the 3rd May two workers were killed by the police during a demonstration. On the 4th May the workers met pacifically to protest at Haymarket Square, a bomb was thrown and 4 workers and 7 policemen were killed. Many workers were arrested and several anarchists were considered to be responsible. Eight of them were sentenced: five of them were executed to be hung at the gallows and three were sent to jail. The workers were accused not because there were evidences against them, but for their political ideas. In 1891 the International Workingmen's Association established the Workers' Day to remember the Haymarket martyrs. 


This day is celebrated on the 8th of March to remeber the women's fight for the improvement of their working conditions, especially the  protests of the women who worked in textile industries. The fire in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in New York on the 25 March 1911 was decisive. 146 women died and 76 were injured because the owners of the factory had locked all the doors to avoid their workers to take a break or steal products. The memory of these women was commemorated in several dates during the 1910s decade. After the Russian revolution the Working Women's Day was finally set on the 8th March. 

Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire

An early action for International Women's Day.

Women celebrating the Working Women's Day


Stefania Nes said...

Hello Paqui, this is very interesting. I have seen as you have said this morning in class that the anarchists were acussed of this. In this case were they the real responsibles of the dead of that inocent persons? or they were only accused to be? Another thing that I've seen is that the the owners of the factory had locked all the doors, but this happens only in that day? or all the days they looked the doors?

Paqui Pérez Fons said...


The fact is that there were no real evidences against the people who were accused of this terrorist attack. They were arrested because they were union activists. There were suspicions about the bomb. Some people thought that it had been thrown on purpose to damage the workers' organization, which was becoming more and more effective. The injustice of the trial provoked an international protest against the sentences. Here you have two links where you can read more about these events and their consequences:

As for the factory, they locked the doors everyday. In fact, this continues to happen in many factories in Asia. In some factories the workers are obliged to wear diapers (nappies in American English)because they are not allowed to go to the bathroom. Here you have a recent example:

There is still a lot to do to improve the workers' conditions around the world.