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Tribute to health workers on International Workers Day

International Workers’ Day is a celebration of labourers and the working classes that is promoted by the international labour movement.

Countries should celebrate this year’s Labour Day with a tribute to health workers who stood tall in the face of the devastating COVID19 pandemic that killed over 3 million people and disrupted world affairs.

As nations emerge from the acute phase of the coronavirus crisis, the great contribution of health workers on the frontline must be recognised.

We know that in providing care to those suffering from Covid19, hundreds of health care workers contracted the virus, and many died.

These health workers risked their lives, while helping to save the lives of others, despite knowing that the risk they incur could be fatal.

Origin of May Day

According to Wikipedia, the movement started in Australia, On 21 April 1856, when Australian stonemasons in Victoria undertook a mass stoppage as part of the eight-hour workday movement and it became a yearly commemoration.

1 May was chosen to be International Workers’ Day to commemorate the 1886 Haymarket affair in Chicago where there was a general strike for the eight-hour workday.

On 4 May, the police acted to disperse a public assembly in support of the strike when an unidentified person threw a bomb. The police responded by firing on the workers. The event led to the deaths of seven police officers and at least thirty-eight civilians; sixty police officers were injured, as were one hundred and fifteen civilians.

Many labour leaders and sympathisers were arrested and 4 were executed in what was considered a miscarriage of justice.

Paris agreement

In 1889, a meeting in Paris was held by the first congress of the Second International, following a proposal by Raymond Lavigne that called for international demonstrations on the 1890 anniversary of the Chicago. May Day was formally recognized as an annual event at the International’s second congress. The congress made it “mandatory upon the proletarian organisations of all countries to stop work on 1 May, wherever it is possible without injury to the workers.


Since 1981, 1 May is a public holiday in Nigeria. On the day, people gather while, traditionally, the president of the Nigeria Labour Congress and other politicians address workers.

The Day fell on a Saturday this year, this the federal government declared Monday, May 3, as a public holiday.

Many labour union are currently on strike in Nigeria and it is expected that these issues would surround 2021 celebrations.

Saadatu Albashir

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