May Day, which began in the struggle of US workers for the 8-hour day, has been celebrated around the world since 1890 as International Labour Day. Its force lies in its global character: it is the day when workers around the world announce their commitment to struggle together for common goals.
May Day has been repressed, banned and bloodied; it has been co-opted, appropriated as a symbolic ornament for dictators and authoritarian regimes at war with the labour movement, or turned into a harmless bank holiday. Despite this, labour celebrates May Day with confidence, for we know that society rests on our energy, our eyes, hands, brains and backs.
It is the day when we insist that dignified work, health, food, housing, water, education and cultural expression are rights, not privileges, and we aim to have them. It has never been a day when we timidly, humbly approach judges and jailers or conclaves of finance ministers to convince them that unions are good for business or to plead for a bit more dialogue, if you please. It is a day when we say: your banks, buyouts and buybacks bring misery and mass unemployment; your trade deals and patent regimes destroy livelihoods and violate the right of all humanity to access food, water and medicine. It is a day when we say, not only is a better world possible, but that we will accept no less.
May Day is the day when we celebrate our past, present and future by claiming our rights and our willingness to fight for them. Let us celebrate it loudly and proudly on May Day 2010.