May 1st Labor and Solidarity Day is one of the days that is celebrated every year in many countries in the world, has articles written, songs composed about. Perhaps with its universal concepts, it calls people to receive a recompense for their work and that it is their God-given right to take it. Before we pass on to the adventure of May 1st in history and various societies, looking the words in its name and the meaning behind them may help us to comprehend and internalize this day.
Behind The Words
The word ”labour” in this day’s name, though sometimes used simply in our daily lives, has quite a big meaning.
Labour is a set of acts that tells the process of a work we produce before we do it, while we do it and after we do it.
According to the Turkish Linguistic Society, the word means ‘’ the effort, work and struggle of the body and mind invested in a work’’. The second meaning of it is ‘’ a long, tiring and important work’’.
In the 1880s, with the increasing of the factories in the Industrial Revolution, manpower became an important advantage. However, the bodies of these people were worth as much as disposable supplies and with the work hours up to 15 hours a day, the lives of these people were shortened fast.
Recompenses were comforting for neither the already exhausted bodies nor the minds thinking constantly about tomorrow. On the contrary, with the ‘’ I am easy to be replaced’’ mindset, people couldn’t resist these conditions and had to live this way for a long time.
The other word ‘’ solidarity’’ is again according to the Turkish Linguistic Society means ‘’ the bonding between people who together form a community in terms of feeling, opinion and common interest’’. At this point, the solidarity in May 1st brings two seemingly different groups of people together: those who are exposed to bad working and thus living conditions and those who are not in this situation yet think this is not right. This means that these people come together and provide solidarity. It represents their discovery that something that is seen as unchangeable can change.
The Workers Who Came Together First
Everything starts with the workers’ coming together led by American federation of labour and congress of industrial organizations in Chicago, the USA in 1884. The union determines that the working hours that are up to 15-16 hours a day should be 8 hours. And they declare May 1st as the day the actions to take place to make this goal come true.
With the number of more and more people coming together in the later years, the laws that guarantee the workers’ rights came into force.
From those times till today, May 1st was accepted as an official holiday in different countries and on different dates. In Turkey, it is celebrated in 1923 for the first time, and on 22 April 2009, published on Official Gazette, it is accepted as an official holiday.
May 1st Labour and Solidarity Day is also known as Labour Day in the world. However, before it could be named as a holiday, it had to be a day of blue and constant struggle for years. With time and persistence, today many workers can say that their rights are ”violated”. But this wasn’t always the case. Once, there weren’t even laws that could be shown as a source for their rights, it was a dream.
The workers’ rights awareness is on the rise around the world, but as in most subjects, there is still a long way to go in this one too. And the keyword for this road is ”solidarity”.
Turkish4 Family wishes all the labourers a happy May 1st Labour and Solidarity Day.
Thank you all and Elleriniz dert görmesin*!
*Elleriniz dert görmesin: it is a wish meaning ‘’ God bless your hands’’. It can be said for a meal, an article or work as a compliment. It means ‘’thank you’’ for the care the person we are talking to shows.
Translated by: Esra Nur Elmas