What International Labor Day is all about

02 Mei 2024
By : Andhika Dhixz

International Labor Day, also known as Workers' Memorial Day or May Day, has a long history stemming from the labor movement's struggle for workers' rights in various parts of the world.

Labor Day originated from the Haymarket Incident in the 19th century in the United States. On May 1, 1886, labor unions in Chicago held a rally to demand rights such as an eight-hour workday. These protests culminated in an event known as the Haymarket Square Incident, where explosions and clashes occurred between police and demonstrators. This event sparked global attention to workers' struggles.

At the second congress of the International Workingmen's Association in Paris in 1889, May 1 was chosen as International Workers' Day as a form of global solidarity to commemorate the workers' struggle in Chicago and fight for the rights of workers around the world. Since then, May 1 has become a moment to celebrate the achievements of the labor movement and commemorate their struggles around the world. International Labor Day is celebrated with rallies, demonstrations, solidarity events, conferences, and other activities in many countries around the world.

In 1890, the International Union of Trade Unions called on countries to observe International Labor Day. In 1950, the International Labor Organization (ILO) based in Geneva, Switzerland, established May 1 as International Workers' Day.

Since the decision, May 1 has become Labor Day, also known as Workers' Day, a celebration held annually to honor the contributions of workers in advancing economies and societies around the world, from all walks of life.

All people involved in the world of work, whether as formal workers, informal workers, migrant workers, domestic workers, or those who contribute to other informal sectors are entitled to celebrate Labor Day.

This also includes employers, governments, and other individuals who support workers' rights and the struggle for more just and decent working conditions. In addition, social movements, community organizations, and all individuals who care about workers' issues can also celebrate Labor Day as a form of solidarity and support for workers' struggles.

In Indonesia, the labor movement has existed since the Dutch colonial era. In the early 20th century, workers in Indonesia began to form unions to fight exploitation and oppression by the colonial government and Dutch employers. One of the earliest events that marked the beginning of the labor struggle in Indonesia was the Petrus Dadi Incident in 1926. Petrus Dadi, a sugar factory worker in Central Java, was killed by Dutch security forces for leading a strike. Along with the International Labor Day commemorated around the world, on 1 May 1927, trade unions in Indonesia organized a Labor Day commemoration to commemorate the struggle of workers and fight for workers' rights.

One of the important figures in the history of the labor struggle in Indonesia is Sutomo, later known as Bung Tomo. He was one of the main figures in the Indonesian labor movement and played an important role in fighting for workers' rights.

After Indonesia's independence in 1945, Labor Day became more significant as a moment to celebrate the struggle of Indonesian workers in fighting for independence and their rights in the newly independent country.

In 2013, the Indonesian government officially designated May 1 as National Labor Day through a Presidential Decree, affirming the official recognition of workers' struggles and the importance of commemorating Labor Day in Indonesia. Since then, every year May 1 in Indonesia is celebrated as National Labor Day. Characteristics of Labor Day in Indonesia include :

  1. Demonstrations and Mass Actions: Labor organizations and unions often hold demonstrations and mass actions to highlight issues relevant to workers' rights, including wages, working conditions, and social protection.
  2. Solidarity Celebrations: Labor Day is also a momentum for workers to strengthen their solidarity, both among fellow workers and with other social movements.
  3. Commemorating the History of Struggle: On Labor Day, there is often a remembrance of workers' struggles in the past, especially the events of workers' struggles in fighting for their rights.
  4. Workers' Demands and Aspirations: During Labor Day celebrations, there is often a delivery of workers' demands and aspirations to the government or employers regarding issues such as minimum wage, job security, and other labor rights.
  5. Discussions and Education: Educational events and discussions are often held to raise workers' awareness of their rights and strengthen their understanding of the social and political issues that affect their lives.

Labor Day is more than just a red date on the calendar; it marks an important moment to appreciate and reflect on the struggles and significant contributions of labor in advancing the economy and society. Although the commemoration of Labor Day in Indonesia was initially centered in Jakarta, as the labor movement grew across Indonesia, Labor Day became a festive occasion in various cities and regions throughout Indonesia. The rich and diverse history of Labor Day illustrates global solidarity and aspirations for social justice.

(Danang Respati Wicaksono / HUMAS UNDIRA)

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