Posts By Eoin Griffin

The Origins of May Day and Why it’s Relevant Today

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Originally posted on Irish Student Left Online on the 24th of April.

Eoin Griffin writes about the history of May Day and how we can use this focal point to reassess our own goals. On Wednesday, May 1st from 6:45PM at Parnell Square we'll be taking the energy that was part of last Monday's public meeting organised by the 1913 Unfinished Business Youth Bloc into the DCTU’s May Day march leaving Parnell Square at 7pm. What was it Oscar Wilde said about socialism and evenings? Sign up to the Facebook event here.

May Day holds a mythical position among the international workers and union movements. Its origins can be traced back to Australia in 1856 when stonemasons and builders in Melbourne downed tools on the 21st of April and marched on Parliament to demand an eight hour working day without any deterioration in pay. In 1884 the Chicago Labour Movement adopted the eight hour working day as their core demand, declaring that May 1st 1886 would mark the beginning of the 8 hour working day being a standard. They famously campaigned for this using the slogan “eight hours of work, eight hours of sleep, eight hours of recreation”. This slogan had first appeared in the UK during the Industrial Revolution.

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