The modern celebration of May Day evolved from the campaign by the
Knights of Labour for the eight-hour day in the United States and
Canada in the mid-188Os. At that time, workers were being forced
to work anywhere from 10 to 14 hours per day. On May 1st, 1886,
national strikes took place in both countries involving over 250,000
workers in support of this campaign, however, in Chicago, police
attacked and killed six striking workers.
The next day, at a demonstration against this police brutality in
the city's Haymarket Square, a bomb exploded among the police cordon
killing eight officers. Eight striking trade unionists were arrested
and tried for murder. The trial focused as much on their politics
as it did on the allegation of murder and four were eventually convicted
and executed in November 1887. They became known as the Haymarket
Martyrs. Shortly afterwards, May 1st or May Day, was declared to
be International Workers Day when the International Working
Men's Association (the First International) designated the day as
a holiday to commemorate the Haymarket Martyrs.
In Ireland, the first Monday of May was declared a Bank Holiday
by the then Minister, Ruairí Quinn TD, in 1994, in honour
of May Day and those people who have campaigned and continue to
campaign for workers rights as well as progressive, economic,
social and political change.
As a contribution to marking this important occasion, Montague devises
and distributes a card that highlights an issue we believe requires
urgent political action. This years card focuses on the issue
of an Equal Rights Amendment to our Constitution.
If you would like to view previous cards or
find out more about Montague visit our website at www.montaguecomms.ie